Reduce storage losses of round bales
Hay waste can occur during both storage and feeding. Research has shown outdoor hay storage losses of round bales can range from 5 to 35 percent depending on precipitation, storage site, and original condition of the bale. For example, the outer 4" layer of a 6' diameter round bale contains about 25 percent of the total bale volume and is most likely to be damaged by weather if stored improperly or unprotected.
There are a number of techniques that minimize outdoor storage losses of round bales:
- Bale or buy a dense bale as the bales will sag less and have less surface area in contact with the ground.
- Use plastic wrap, net wrap, or plastic twine. Research has shown that net-wrapped bales reduced grass hay dry matter losses by 32 percent compared with twine bales when stored outside.
- Store bales on a well-drained surface. A well-drained, 4" to 6" coarse rock base will minimize bottom spoilage, as will storing on wood pallets.
- Never store bales under trees.
- Store round bales end-to-end when storing outside. Position round bales as tightly as possible in long lines on a well-drained site. If more than one line of bales is needed, space adjacent lines at least 3 feet apart. This will increase air flow and allows sunlight to penetrate the bales. In a South Dakota study, dry matter losses of round bales were 4 percent for round bales stacked individually and less than 1 percent for round bales stacked end-to-end.
- When storing round bales outside without cover, never stack round bales in a pyramid. Stacking tends to trap moisture and limits drying action from sunlight and wind. A South Dakota study reported dry matter losses of round bales stacked in pyramids at more than 10 percent after one year of storage.
- Storage losses are usually reduced by approximately two-thirds with indoor storage and by one-half with good plastic covering (i.e. a tarp) outdoors.
1Krishona Martinson can be contacted at email@example.com
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