Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2006
Publication Date: May 1, 2006
Citation: Coblentz, W.K. 2006. Baled Silage for Livestock. Progessive Hay Grower. 7(3):13-18. Interpretive Summary: Storing forage crops as baled silage or ‘balage' offers many advantages over other harvesting methods for many producers. These include: 1) eliminating the need for wilting to a low moisture content before baling; 2) less reliance on weather conditions, thereby increasing the potential for harvest at the proper maturity; 3) enhancement of flexibility because baling equipment can be used for silage or dry hay; 4) easy expansion of the system to accommodate as much forage as necessary; and 5) flexibility to handle small quantities of forage, which is much more difficult with larger silo types. Good techniques and management are essential for satisfactory preservation of forages as balage. Essential aspects of management include: 1) close monitoring of plastic wraps to maintain the integrity of the silo plastic; 2) wilting to proper ensiling moisture (45 to 65%); 3) prompt sealing of individual bales; 4) proper handling of wrapped bales; 5) good storage site preparation and maintenance; 6) and use of high-quality plastics with appropriate amounts of inhibitors of ultraviolet light, which are known to cause deterioration of silage plastics. Using baled silage in animal feeding programs can improve profit by reducing concentrate costs, minimizing forage losses from rain, and enhancing nutritive value relative to rain-damaged or excessively mature hays.
Technical Abstract: Storing forage crops as baled silage or ‘balage' offers many advantages over other harvesting methods for many producers; however, a number of key management issues must be addressed to ensure satisfactory fermentation and stable storage prior to feeding. These management issues are discussed in detail, along with some of the scientific background that supports typical recommendations made to producers that should optimize performance in the field.