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In hay baling, silage wrap is an option for producers who want to minimise waste and improve the quality of their products. When used correctly, silage wrap helps to create the perfect fermentation conditions for better quality hay. It also reduces curing time, improves quality, and reduces the amount of wasted hay.
High-moisture hay bales create favourable conditions for fermentation
Fermentation is a process that breaks down plant matter. Microbes break down plant matter and create heat at 20% or higher moisture levels. Regardless of the fermentation method, hay bales containing high moisture are best avoided.
Fermentation can be a complex process. It can produce high temperatures and lead to spontaneous combustion, which is a severe threat. Fortunately, spontaneous combustion can be avoided if you follow some basic precautions. First, you need to monitor the temperature of each bale. Temperatures can rise overnight, so daily monitoring is essential. Continuous monitoring can help you detect overheating bales early and ensure the safest storage environment.
Another critical factor in fermentation is bailage density. Hay with a high moisture content (around 55-65%) has a higher tendency to ferment than low-moisture hay. When baling high-moisture hay, it’s essential to use a baler designed explicitly for the process. A baler with heavy-duty tines and a pre-cutting knife system is a good choice. Also, remember that a high moisture content leaves a wet layer on the bale.
If you’re storing high-moisture hay bales, keep in mind that the temperature should remain below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also avoid storing the bales in areas with high sunlight and sharp stones. Additionally, ensure that the bales are stacked north-south to reduce sunlight exposure. Another important aspect is to repair broken bales regularly. However, avoid using duct tape or similar materials because they may result in secondary fermentation.
In addition to bacterial inoculants, it’s advisable to check the moisture content of the hay. A high moisture level will allow clostridial bacteria to thrive and produce butyric acid and ammonia. These bacterial growths are especially harmful to plants and crops with high protein content.
Another advantage to high-moisture forage is the lower cost. The price of high-moisture hay is considerably lower than that of dry hay. It is also more appealing to animals. Unlike dry hay, high-moisture hay has a higher quality immediately after cutting. High-moisture forage also produces higher yields. It means that farmers can get in the field sooner. Moreover, high-moisture hay bales reduce the impact of unpredictable weather conditions, such as random storms.
Reduces curing time
It reduces the curing time of silage wrap in a hay baling operation and benefits both the farmer and the consumer. While hay bales ferment shortly after being wrapped, it is crucial to avoid moving the bales until they have completely cured. It helps to prevent damage to the wrap. However, you must remember to rotate the wrap every 24 hours to avoid bursting. The number of wrap rotations varies according to the film strength. For instance, the less puncture-resistant the film, the easier it is for the hay bales to break through.
When using silage wrap, look for a silage wrap with multiple layers, with an inner layer that is more puncture-resistant. A millimetre number on the package indicates a wrap’s thickness. The wrap thickness should be measured before wrapping. For best results, wrap the bales within 24 hours of baling. Fermentation is prevented when the bales contain more oxygen than the surrounding air.
A study from the University of Kentucky examined the effects of wrapping time on the nutritional quality of alfalfa silage compared to field-cured hay stored on the ground. Interestingly, the latter had a greater dry matter content, lower pH, and higher butyric acid content than the former. These findings suggest that delayed wrapping can help reduce the amount of clondial activity that occurs in silage.
If you’re using silage wrap in a hay baling operation, it is vital to use a 6-8 mil film to protect the forage. The film should also be durable and resistant to ultraviolet light. In addition, it should overlap 50% of the bale while wrapping.
Another way to reduce curing time is to delay the wrapping by 48 hours. This way, the temperature of the bale does not rise as much as it would with a loose bale. The higher the temperature, the more likely the bales will spoil.
Ideally, the moisture content of the forage in a bale is between forty and sixty percent. Although the maximum moisture content is fifty percent, hay containing below fifty percent can be baled as long as the moisture content is kept under this threshold. However, the hay may be too dry by reaching that moisture level, leading to dusty hay and reduced nutritional value.
An improved silage wrap allows for faster baling and more uniform drying. It also allows for a single rake pass, compared to multiple passes necessary for hay. Simultaneous wrapping also reduces the mechanical work needed to harvest the grass, which can knock the valuable leaf out of the forage and reduce the feed value. According to a study from the University of Missouri, grass mowed at the boot stage contains at least two-thirds of the nutritional value.
Silage should be wrapped with at least six mil plastic wrap to limit oxygen. It is enough to limit microbial growth and prolong storage. More layers are often needed depending on the crop and the length of storage. In addition, the wrap must be applied immediately after baling to prevent spontaneous combustion and high internal temperatures, which can lead to mould, spoilage, or combustion.
Wrapping the bales with plastic should be done in dry weather. It is important because the plastic has to adhere to the bales. A dry day will give the plastic the best tackiness and eliminate oxygen from the bales. The bales should also be wrapped close to their storage location. Bales should be stored away from trees and other potential pests, and they should also be stored in well-drained soil.
The density of the bales also plays an important role. The higher the density, the better the return on investment will be. It will also allow for more bales to be loaded onto a trailer. It will allow the farmer to maximize logistics. The ideal density for a bale is around 7.5 to 9.5 pounds per cubic foot.
The correct moisture level for baleage is between forty and sixty percent. If the forage is too wet, it may lead to clostridial fermentation, which is not suitable for cattle. On the other hand, if it is too dry, it will also have a higher pH, making it difficult for the bale to ferment.
The film can also help prevent the outer layer of the bale from spoiling. However, it is essential to note that even the driest bales can have an outer layer of spoilage. When moisture and oxygen are present, the outer layer is decomposed by microbes. It is possible to reduce the level of oxygen and microbes by using a darker film. However, little research has been done on the effectiveness of this method.
Round bale silage is less expensive, but it creates extra labour costs. However, this can be offset by reduced field and storage losses. Round bale silage is best wrapped the day it is harvested and fed to animals. The cost of round bale silage can range from $3.50 to $8.50 per bale, depending on the dry forage.
Using clear plastic wrap for storing silage has several benefits. For one, it is more cost-effective than paper and can be recycled into other products. Also, it is thought to deter birds from feeding on silage. However, it is essential to note that the nutritional value of silage varies according to the type of livestock; hence, the right choice is crucial to ensure good nutrition and reduce costs.
A biopolymer developed by three PhD students at Imperial College London can reduce waste and improve animal health. For example, this product can be used in silage and hay baling. The researchers hope to introduce the product to farmers in three to five years. It would help reduce plastic waste in agriculture and prevent livestock from eating harmful plastic scraps, and large-scale production could make the product affordable for farmers.
In addition, the use of gravel bases on the ground for storing hay will reduce moisture loss. It will make access to the bales easier. It will also help keep the bales more dense and reduce bottom spoilage. It will improve profitability. Lastly, using gravel bases will help minimise the waste of silage wrap.
Using round bales in hay baling allows farmers to harvest warm-season grasses more frequently and reduce the cost of supplements. Furthermore, hay harvesting can be time-sensitive as the weather permits. In addition, the round bale system also reduces the cost of specialised equipment. Moreover, it does not require additional skills to operate the equipment. And it can be fed to livestock, too.
Visit www.netwrap.com.au/silage-wrap-australia/ to learn more.