One great way to reduce waste and to shorten the amount of time to harvest is to make your own baleage. If done correctly, such a project can increase the quality of feed without being a financial burden. However, it is essential to understand the steps that need to be taken to make quality baleage so that the time and resources put into doing so do not go to waste.
First of all, 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 is at risk of overheating. Even someone with lots of experience baling hay will deal with hiccups that are out of their control. If this is the case, being too ambitious with how much hay you planned to bale can result in wasted hay.
Of course, it is important to wrap the bales with the correct materials, as well. Generally, you can purchase a single wrapper or wrappers that will work for multiple bales. The latter are more expensive but generally will be able to wrap more hay. Therefore, you should consider how many bales you will have to wrap as well as your own financial constraints before you make any purchasing decision.
There are certain considerations that must be made regarding characteristics of the bale itself. The most important one is that the moisture in the bale should be between 50 and 65 percent. Higher than 65 percent will allow bacteria to colonize the hay, which can both kill the hay as well as make any livestock that consumes the hay sick. On the other hand, hay that is below 50 percent moisture will prevent good types of bacteria from colonizing the hay, which will deprive the hay of its 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, as otherwise the hay may begin to spoil. However, feeding livestock with the hay immediately after it has been baled is probably not a good idea either. Instead, wait approximately two months in order for good bacteria to become present in the hay. Being too quick to feed animals with the hay can result in livestock not reaping the full nutritional benefits of the hay.
Creating your own baleage can be a great way to save money and increase the quality of your forage. Nevertheless, doing so haphazardly can be dangerous for your livestock and take a toll on your bottom line. As such, it is important to take certain precautions in regard to the quantity of hay used, wrapping the hay, the characteristics of the bale itself and the feeding schedule to be used.