How to Make Baleage that Benefits Livestock and Your Bottom Line
To reduce waste and shorten the amount of time to harvest, you may want to consider making your own baleage. When done correctly, this process can cost-effectively increase the quality of feed. Before you dive in, however, it is essential to understand the steps required to make quality baleage.
First, particularly for beginners, do not use too much hay. If hay is not wrapped in half of a day after it has been baled, the bale can overheat. Even someone with lots of experience baling hay can run into issues. Over ambition often leads to wasted hay.
Next, it is important to wrap the bales with the correct materials. You can purchase a single wrapper or wrappers that will work for multiple bales. The latter are more expensive, but you will be able to wrap more hay. Consider how many bales you will have to wrap before purchasing.
There are considerations that must be made regarding the characteristics of the bale itself. Moisture in the bale should be between 50 and 65 percent. Higher than 65 percent will allow bacteria to colonize the hay, which can kill the hay and make any livestock that consumes it sick. On the other hand, hay that is below 50 percent moisture will prevent good types of bacteria from colonizing the hay, which will lower the hay’s nutritional value.
Once the hay has been baled, be vigilant about when you will use it as feed for your livestock. Within less than a year is a good rule of thumb, otherwise the hay may begin to spoil. Feeding livestock with the hay immediately after it has been baled is probably not a good idea either. Instead, wait approximately two months for good bacteria to become present in the hay. Feeding animals newly baled hays can result in livestock not reaping the full nutritional benefits of the hay.
Baling your own hay can be a great way to save money and increase the quality of your forage. Keep in mind, however, that engaging in this process haphazardly can be dangerous for your livestock and take a toll on your bottom line. Therefore, it is important to take the necessary precautions when it comes to the quantity of hay used, how you wrap the hay, the characteristics of the bale itself and your livestock feeding schedule.