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the latter part of August, 1880, when Steele filled his experimental silo, which was originally a root cellar holding about twenty-five tons. Steele stated he then thought it was too late, but got help and filled it in one day, working until eleven o'clock at night. Although in after years he had poor silage, due to cutting too early, he stated to the writer that there was never better ensilage made than that of his first year, although he did not know it at that time.
In 1881 Steele extended the walls of the old root cellar up into the haymow, bringing the top of it even with the eaves. This made the size of the silo fifteen by sixteen by twentythree feet deep, twelve feet above the ground and eleven feet below. This silo was of stone construction, doubleboarded with building paper between, to serve as an insulation against cold. It has been in continuous use ever since and appears to be as good today as when it was built. Steele states he has never had a bit of frozen silage in this silo. He met with such success that other dairy farmers built silos soon after. Steele probably did more to popularize the silo in the early days than any other man in this state. He gave instructions to farmers in the vicinity as well as to the institute men who came to see his silo.
Steele also built a round silo before this type of construction became popular. His father at the time they were making maple sugar had a large tub to hold maple sap, and it was from this he conceived the idea of making a round silo. In 1888 he built the round silo which was eighteen feet in diameter and thirty feet high. It was built of two-bysix staves and lasted twenty-seven years.
On November 8, 1880, Steele was elected a member of the state legislative assembly. He was a member of the agricultural committee, and it was through his influence that Dean Henry was able to get an appropriation of $4,000 to experiment on ensilage and sugarcane, as he was the only one in the assembly who had a silo or knew anything about
ensilage. On account of Mr. Steele's successful experiments the vicinity about him became the first silo building community in the state. Some of these old silos are still in use, the most notable being the one built in 1882 by J. W. Hays, which has been in continuous use since then.
In 1881 Dean Henry of the University of Wisconsin built a silo twenty-seven by twelve by fifteen feet deep. The walls were of rubble sandstone eighteen inches thick, the inside being smooth with cement. This silo was not a complete success on account of the porosity of the walls. When ready to fill this silo, Dean Henry thought the event of such importance as to warrant putting notices in the city papers and sending out postal cards inviting prominent farmers from different parts of the state to witness the work, which was to start on August 5, 1881. This silo was opened November 29, 1881. Upon being offered the ensilage, three out of twelve farm cows refused to eat it. Those that ate seemed puzzled over it, and showed plainly by their cautious mincing manner that they could not quite understand what it was. Those that refused it entirely at first, soon fell to tasting it, and after four or five feeds they all ate it as naturally as hay. The first experiment performed was a feeding trial between meadow hay and ensilage. The result was in favor of the ensilage.
Most of the farmers in the state were feeding fodder corn in the bundle or sheaf. They wanted to know if there was any material loss in this method of feeding, and if so whether it would pay to use the silo to save such loss. The next year Dean Henry attempted to solve this problem. He built, that summer, a silo extending into an embankment fifteen feet, having a width of twelve feet. This silo was filled on September 4 and 5; the feeding experiment commenced on November 16 and ended January 5. The results of this experiment showed that in amount of food obtained, ensilage exceeded the fodder by fifty per cent. Further, the
ensilage-fed cows produced ten per cent more milk and eleven per cent more butter. The cows fed on fodder corn drank in the trials 6.841 pounds of water, while the ensilagefed cows drank only 1.061 pounds. Dean Henry's next experiment was a comparison between hay and ensilage fed to calves, which was begun on January 7, 1882, and ended January 30. This experiment also was very favorable to ensilage. Little more was done until 1887, when low prices for agricultural products drove farmers to studying how to reduce the cost of feed. It was for this reason that no other single question attracted so much attention in the institutes during the two previous winters as did the subject of silos and ensilage. During this year Dean Henry, with the assistance of the late Professor F. W. Woll, constructed six experimental pits in which to preserve different varieties of corn. Feeding experiments similar to those performed before were carried on, and the results were in favor of the silo. It was shown that ensilage-fed cows would maintain a flow of milk for butter fully equal to or more than that produced by those feeding on dry fodder. It was further shown that twice the amount of food could be stored in a given space in the shape of ensilage as in the form of hay.
This was a period of eager interest among farmers of Wisconsin in the question whether to build a silo or not, and as Hiram Smith said at the closing institute held at Madison, 1886: "Owners of silos are flooded with correspondence from all over the northwest; nearly every owner of a silo is visited almost daily; farmers come five, ten and twenty miles, some singly and some in couples and sometimes in platoons; in short, farmers are flocking to the silo like pilgrims to the Holy Land."
Nearly all of the earlier silos had partitions. No reason for this was advanced; it seemed to be a building custom more than anything else. However, the partition allowed more to be fed off daily, thus preventing moulding, though
losses from this cause had not been experienced in general. Farmers also weighted the ensilage by means of planks and stones, the weight applied being from one hundred to two hundred pounds per square foot. Some farmers did this as a matter of habit, but the real reason lay in the heat generated. When ensilage is first put into a silo it will heat up. It was reasoned that the heating of any material like green fodder can go on where air is supplied. If pressure is applied, the supply of air is cut off and the heating will cease. We might add that this one fact kept some farmers from building silos, for they feared that their barns would burn down. This idea was gradually corrected in the late eighties.
With our present knowledge of construction, it is surprising that the square and rectangular silos continued to be built as long as they did. The United States Department of Agriculture, in a report published in 1882, made mention of the merits of the round silos, but farmers did not build them. One reason that might be advanced is that many of the square and rectangular silos were built in barns because farmers thought that was the proper place for a silo. The early silos were of stone, and for this reason it seemed to many that all silos had to be built of stone. In some localities stone was not to be had except at considerable expense. From 1885 the building of silos from lumber, in the corner of the barn, gradually took the place of the stone silos. This type of construction continued until in 1891 Professor F. H. King, of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station, introduced the round silo.
Previous to 1891 Professor King had made a special study of the different types of silos then in use. He journeyed throughout Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois in quest of information. It was from these investigations that he brought forth a new type of silo which became known as the King silo. King observed that many farmers were having trouble with ensilage spoiling in the corners of the
square and rectangular silos, and decided in favor of the round silo as a type which would be free from that objection. Round silos had been advocated before, but farmers did not build them. Professor King had more to do with developing and advocating the round silo and making it a success than any other man.1
In all discussions that took place in the eighties relative to the silo, the farmers who argued against or made laughing stock of those who owned silos were men who did not own them. All kinds of arguments were used against the silo, which no doubt made silo building rather slow at first. Some of the reasons advanced against the feeding of ensilage were that the cows would lose their teeth, that it would eat out their stomachs, that it would cause trouble at calving time, that it would affect the quality of the milk. Only one farmer who had a silo expressed any dissatisfaction. He stated that the feeding of ensilage made his cows half drunk. This he attributed to carbonic acid. So strong was the prejudice against the silo, that in some communities creameries refused to receive milk from farmers who fed their cows ensilage. This was true as late as 1908 in Rock and Walworth counties, Wisconsin. Even today Swiss cheese makers object to accep'ing milk from farmers who feed ensilage. Some who fed ensilage expected too much, such as a large increase in the flow of milk. Some of the men who addressed meetings rather overstated the advantages of the silo. While some claimed they got a larger flow of milk, others claimed they did not. However, all agreed that by the use of ensilage they could keep a larger herd through the winter, and the cost of keeping the cows was not so great per head as when dry feed was used.
1 Round wooden silos were first described and their use advocated in an article by Professor King published in July, 1891, as Bulletin No. 28, by the University of Wisconsin, Agricultural Experiment Station. After the appearance of this bulletin, this type of silo and the stave silo were practically the only kinds of wooden silos built in the country for a number of years.