"A quarter-size hole in the plastic results in a basketball-size spoiled area," Kallenbach said. "Puncture holes can be sealed with tape. That requires frequent checks of wrapped bales."
Watch for puncture holes
Big birds and rodents puncture the plastic. A bigger threat can be a pre-teen farm boy doing stunts around the bales, he discovered.
Also, it's better to let weeds grow up around wrapped bales than mowing too close.
"If you see those long white objects that look like a giant caterpillar, that is baleage wrapped into a continuous row of bales," Kallenbach says.
Making baleage requires a separate machine that takes the big bales delivered to it for a spiral wrap of overlapping plastic.
The 1-mil plastic sheeting, which comes in a roll, overlaps to provide at least a 4-mil-thick wrap.
More wrapping may be needed if bales are to be sold and transported.
Some baleage can be made into individually wrapped packages. Farmers find the preferred method is continuous in-line wraps, Kallenbach says. That eliminates need for end wraps on bales.
A hold back to adoption has been the cost of wrapping machines. The more expensive continuous wrappers cost $28,000 to $30,000.
That cost opens a chance for entrepreneurs to custom-wrap bales. The operator wraps and supplies the plastic at a set fee per bale.
Producers make bales and deliver them to the custom operator at the storage site.
An advantage of baleage is getting hay harvested early before seed heads set, when nutrient content is highest.
Early harvest allows quality regrowth during the cool-season-grass spring growth period. More high-quality forage can be harvested after the first cutting.
Livestock benefit from improved feed quality, making more gains or milk.
Source: University of Missouri Extension