Keeping it under wraps

Written by Marc Epp on .

Forages are at their best when first cut, but quality begins to deteriorate quickly between harvest and storage. An alternative to putting up dry hay is baleage, also called haylage or round baled silage. With baleage, forage is baled and wrapped in plastic at high moisture, up to 65 percent. Inside the plastic, the forage is ensiled and quality is preserved. This storage method minimizes weather risks that can affect hay quality while drying in the field. For regions that receive frequent spring rain and/or high humidity, the method offers producers flexibility in the field and allows less time between cutting and storage.

When it comes to harvesting and handling, putting up high-quality baleage is the same as conventional dry hay. Its quality is a function of forage maturity when cut and how it’s subsequently handled during baling and storage. If the bales are too wet or dry and spoilage occurs, there can be significant losses in value. As long as baleage is done correctly, however, there are decreased harvest losses and increased quality compared to the same-quality dry hay.

Here are some tips for harvesting, wrapping and feeding the highest-quality baleage:

Cutting and prepping: