Silos for chicken houses
Silos are used to store and manage feed in a poultry house. They stand outside the poultry house and the feed is delivered by large trucks and placed in the galvanised steel silos. This helps with storage and with controlling rats and vermin. Small chicken houses do not use silo and have to to have their feed delivered in bags, which are then stored in a store room. Silos come in various sizes, usually measured in tons - this is the amount of chicken feed they hold. A 12 ton silo will hold 12 tons of feed. As you can see in the picture of the silo, it is made in sections, called rings. Each section adds to the capacity of the silo. A silo must be set up on a concrete slab which should be reinforced - the slab will bear the weight of the silo. Installing a silo will need a team of experienced men. This is not a job for a farmer who has not put a silo up before. It can be extremely dangerous putting up a silo, especially in high winds. Modern silos can be made of plastic, but usually these are smaller units. They are far more expensive than a galvanised steel siolo, and rats have been know to chew through the plastic - so for a large poultry operation steel silos remain the number one choice.
The chicken feed is then distributed to the chicken houses via an auger - first it is weighed out in a batch weigher (a clever piece of equipment that measures exact batches of feed), and then moves the feed to the chicken house where it is deposited into bins. The feed is then distributed through the chicken house via a chain feeding system with toughs or a pan feeding system. This is the best way to feed a large number of broilers or layers. If the chicken house has a manual feeding system like tube feeders then the feed is distributed by hand. Electricity is needed to run these feeding systems. Powerful motors drive the units (called drive units) and a power head will pull the feed to the house through a pipe using a spiral. A motor also pulls the chain in a chain feeding system.
When buying a silo in South Africa you will need to think about placement - close to your chicken houses and close to a good road that a large truck can access - best next to the fence so that you do not have to allow the truck onto the chicken farm or too near your poultry house. You will need a qualified team to erect the silo - it is not an easy job and requires a qualified team of silo erectors. You will also need a concrete slab - a strong slab - so the silo has a solid base to sit on - it will have to be re-inforced so as to carry the weight of the poultry silo - in this case 17 tons when filled. A single silo can hold and distribute feed to several houses. On the larger farms they will have several silos so as not to run out of feed. If your silo is showing signs of rust it is a good idea to have the ring replaced or repaired - once rusted through it will allow moisture inside, and that is a sure way to end up with moldy chicken feed. A silo will work with pellets as well as layer mash - although the two should no be mixed in the same silo. The poultry farmer will have to carefully calculate when his birds will need the particular type of feed - and make sure it is all used up so he can place the next type of feed into the silo. Hens in a layer house, and chickens in a broiler house will get different types of feed at different ages. This helps them with their growth cycle. Silos are used for many applications, silos for poultry are no different to silos for other animal feeds. The big difference in the whole system is the method by which the feed is distributed to the birds on the floor of the chicken house - pan feeding or chain feeding are really the only two options out there - and both of these feeding systems work extremely well - my preference are pan feeders, much quieter and less hassle if things go wrong. When a chain breaks in a chain system it can be a real job to repair (not to mention dangerous). There is also far less maintenance in a pan feeding system.