Forage Harvesters: A Guide to Top Manufacturers and Models for Silage and Haylage Production
W William Pattison

Forage Harvesters: A Guide to Top Manufacturers and Models for Silage and Haylage Production

Apr 27, 2023

A forage harvester, which is also referred to as a silage harvester, forager or chopper, is a vital farm tool used to harvest forage plants that are turned into silage.

Silage, which is made by chopping grass, corn or hay into small pieces, is then compacted and stored in a silo, silage bunker or silage bags. This fermented feed is used to feed livestock, while haylage is a similar process that uses dried grass. Forage harvesters can be either self-propelled units or implements attached to a tractor. They consist of a drum or flywheel with several fixed knives that chop the silage and blow it out of a chute into a wagon connected to the harvester or another vehicle driving alongside. Most larger machines have paddle accelerators to increase material speed and improve unloading characteristics. Older forage harvesters were operated by cables, then hydraulics, but the newest types are operated by electronics. Today's largest machines have engines producing up to 1,100 horsepower (820 kW) and can cut up to a 35-foot (11 m) swath of corn in a single pass. They have an output exceeding 400 tons of silage per hour.

Self-propelled machines with tractors or trucks running along with the forager are the most efficient way to make silage. Grass silage is usually cut before harvesting to allow it to wilt, then harvested with a collection header. Maize and whole crop silage, on the other hand, are cut directly by the header, using reciprocating knives, disc mowers or large saw-like blades. Kernel processors are often used when harvesting cereal crops such as corn and sorghum to crack the kernels of these plant heads. In most forage harvesters, the KP can be quickly removed and replaced with a grass chute for chopping non-cereal crops. Silage made from grass, canola, oats or wheat is chopped into pieces ranging from 5 to 76 millimetres (0.2 to 3 in) depending on the knife, cutterhead and length of cut transmission configuration. Additives including bacteria, enzymes, mold inhibitors and preservatives are added to accelerate the fermentation process. When silage is made of corn or sorghum, additives are not necessary because of the high sugar and starch levels in the plants. However, additives are frequently added to corn and sorghum to augment their fermentation. Forage harvesters are an essential tool for livestock farmers who rely on silage and haylage as feed for their animals. There are several manufacturers of forage harvesters, each with their own range of models that offer unique features and capabilities. Here are some of the top forage harvester manufacturers and their models:

Claas - With 65 models available, Claas is one of the largest manufacturers of forage harvesters. Some of their most popular models include the Jaguar 960, Jaguar 950, and Jaguar 940. Website:

John Deere - John Deere offers a range of 48 forage harvester models, including the popular 8000 Series and 9000 Series. These machines are known for their reliability, efficiency, and high-quality performance. Website:

New Holland - New Holland has been a leading manufacturer of forage harvesters for decades, with 32 models available. Their FR Forage Cruiser Series and FR Self-Propelled Crop Cruiser are popular among farmers. Website:

Krone - Krone is known for producing innovative and high-performance forage harvesters. Their BiG X Series includes 14 models, including the BiG X 1180 and BiG X 880. Website:

Fendt - Fendt offers four forage harvester models, including the Katana 65 and Katana 85. These machines are designed to provide high-quality silage and optimal productivity. Website:

In conclusion, forage harvesters are essential for farmers who rely on silage and haylage as feed for their livestock. With a wide range of models available from top manufacturers like Claas, John Deere, New Holland, Krone, and Fendt farmers can choose the machine that best fits their needs and budget.

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