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Baleage

Attempting to make small scale silos (individual bales), that both ferment properly and are sufficiently sealed to prevent aerobic deterioration, is considerably more challenging than standard silage storage techniques. High quality grass forage is required to have sufficient sugar content for good fermentation. Ideal moisture content for baleage is between 50 and 60%. Lower moisture baleage will not ferment properly, although it may keep in storage for short periods, it is not stable. Exposure to any air will result in quick deterioration. Higher moisture baleage risks butyric acid production, resulting in sour silage that may become toxic to animals.

Round balers with a variable chamber or with a hard core center are more likely to produce tight, dense bales. Balers with knives for pre-cutting will also result in dense bales. Dense bales will maintain their shape after wrapping, and will have less oxygen in them. Tedding a windrow and driving too fast while baling will are likely to result in less dense bales.

Bales should be wrapped or bagged immediately after baling with at least 6 mils of plastic containing an ultraviolet radiation inhibitor. When wrapping, plastic layers should overlap 50% and the plastic should be stretched 50% for proper tension. Bales wrapped in the rain may not seal properly. Bales should be stored on a well-drained surface that is free of anything that might puncture the plastic or provide cover for rodents. Stored bales should be monitored weekly and holes repaired with tape designed for this purpose. Bales with holes should be fed as soon as possible.