Tips For Making Baleage

Wrapping forage as baleage requires know-how. Follow these tips to make baleage that works.

Published on: Sep 25, 2013

At the University of Missouri Southwest Research Center field day, producers were able to see and smell what makes good baleage.

A high moisture hay demo by Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri Extension, state forage specialist focused on the proper techniques for wrapping forage to use a baleage.

Kallenbach had the crew at the center wrap 6 bales in plastic wrap. One was wrapped correctly, while the remaining five were not managed properly. These five bales included bales that were too wet; too dry, wrapped with only one wrap, wrapped properly but punctured allowing air to enter the bale; and one baled properly but not wrapped for 48 hours.

Follow these tips for making baleage

When making baleage, consider proper moisture level, wrap bales within 24 hours of baling, and make sure holes in wrap are covered immediately.
When making baleage, consider proper moisture level, wrap bales within 24 hours of baling, and make sure holes in wrap are covered immediately.

After revealing what was inside of the baleage for all to see and smell, Kallenbach gave these tips for making baleage that works:

*Any hay, grass or legume, can be made into high quality baleage.

*The proper moisture level may vary from 40 to 60%.

*The best way to gauge moisture level is with a moisture meter.

*Molds develop if air gets inside the wrap due to punctures caused by varmints, kids, single wraps, etc. Mold also results when baled too wet.

*The moldy hay usually is sorted out by the cattle and seldom causes problems other than being a waste.

*Don’t plan on properly wrapped bales lasting more than 12 months.

*Bales should be wrapped within 24 hours of coming out of the baler.

*Watch the bales closely and cover holes ASAP, but not with duct tape.  Use a special tape from the wrap company.

According to Eldon Cole, MU Extension livestock specialist, haylage is a good way to capture forage at its peak nutritional point without as much concern for the rains that often come in late April – early May. The biggest drawback, he says,  is the need for extra equipment. "This is a good opportunity to do some neighborly sharing of haylage – making machinery."

Source: MU Extension Beef Newsletter