For nearly eight years, rubber material that once covered a flat commercial building roof has served as a durable, effective silage pit cover for Alfred Brandt, longtime Missouri dairy farmer.
Brandt was fortunate to obtain the rubber directly from a roofing company. He places the repurposed rubber roofing on top of black plastic traditionally used on silage pits.
“The rubber came to us in pieces ranging from 10-feet by 20-feet to as large as 30-feet by 50-feet. Any larger than that and the rubber is pretty hard to handle,” Brandt says. “One of my silage pits is 14’ x 40’, the other is 30’ x 80’. I use a lot fewer tires now, just putting a few on where seams overlap. The 1/8-inch rubber creates a tight oxygen barrier and helps keep animals like possum and raccoons out of the pile.”
Brandt also significantly reduced spoilage with the rubber. He says it’s not as effective to use just the rubber without the plastic.
“My neighbor tried that the first year,” Brandt says. “It doesn’t create a tight enough oxygen barrier.”
Repurposed rubber roofing is available from companies such as Repurposed Materials, Inc. Industry standard thickness ranges from 45 mil to 60 mil.
“Individual sheet sizes vary,” Damon Carson at Repurposed Materials, Inc., says. “Some sheets have patches missing where H-VAC openings occurred, etc. These can be re-sealed with ‘Eternabond,’ a tape available at roofing supply stores.
“Rubber material works effectively under any temperature. We sell rubber roofing by the pallet load. Other repurposed products that might be useful to dairy producers are conveyor belting and old advertising billboard vinyls which work well as hay tarps and pond liners.”
Brandt highly recommends rubber roofing covers on silage pits. “Have several people help move it,” Brandt says. “It’s heavy. You can’t do it alone.”