Baleage/grass silage comparison

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by JeffNY, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    I am curious if anyone here uses or has fed wrapped bales? I hear that it is better than haylage as it offers roughage, and good protein. Grass silage offers good protein, but doesn't have the roughage due to its chopped nature. Also curious if anyone who feeds it to a dairy herd, if they saw or you saw a difference between the two mentioned with milk production.



    Thanks in advance!

    Jeff
     
  2. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Jeff,

    One pub. you might want to take a look at is Hay and Forage Grower magazine. http://www.hayandforage.com It has excellent articles on managing your forage acres, pastures and forage quality. They do the annual Forage Superbowl each year at the Dairy Expo.

    Here in my part of Minnesota, we don't see too much use of baleage, most people have upright staves or Harvestores and the bigger operations are using bunkers/pits and baggies.

    From what I've read, baleage can give you higher crude protiein and slightly better digestability over haylage. Whether it bumps your milk production depends on how you adjust the ration once you know the feed values.

    Whether to go with haylage vs. baleage depends on your facilities. Do you have an upright and unloader that is ready-to-go? If so, then you should be able to time your cutting and chopping to get good haylage at less cost. Personally, I think that too many operations cut their haylage too fine, thinking that you'll get heating with the longer cut. You can get away with fine haylage if you are feeding enough dry hay, but I like the longer-cut haylage. I've never had problems with mold, but I always cap the haylage in the upright stave.

    What I see as potential problems with the baleage are: handling costs, variability of feed quality (each wrapped bale is a mini-silo, and fermentation conditions can vary across, if the plastic rips during handling then you'll get spoilage, and you have greater surface area potentially exposed), and depending on how you feed them, I think you could see greater loss. That's why I don't like round bales -- too much feeding loss. If you have a vertical TMR mixer or feeding wagon that can handle them, I suppose that's less of an issue.

    By the way, your heifer Turks is a very nice looking animal. She'll look even better once she sheds that long winter hair.

    I think Cornell has done some research on feed quality with baleage, and they also looked at using additives like proprionic acid and inoculants.
     

  3. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    We use a lot of baleage. We do not have any silo or bunkers to make haylage. We do buy a lot of baleage and dry hay since we cannot grow enough for the herd. The cows really like the baleage and will eat everything, there is very little waste, as long as the slices are spread out. Ther is a little variablity in the forage quality and some spoilage on the outside if not made right. We try to make first crop as baleage since it is a battle to get it done right with the humidity, rain, and other fieldwork. The biggest faults in my opinion is the plastic gets everywhere, worse than a sialage bag, consistency in the loads, more expensive to make, requires specialized handling and equipment. The advantages incude; cows really like it(esp in the summer), no leaf loss, ease and timeliness of baling, doesn't take up room in the hay shed. We always buy very high quality baleage, and any bales that come up grassy or excessive spoilage are fed to heifers drys or steers. Since the bales are tightly wrapped with four to six layers tearsare none existent, even with loads handle multiple times. If you can find someone in the area it would be worth a try, they never drop in the heat with good baleage, with the proper moisture content.
     
  4. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    We've been using a combination of baleage using a rented Tubeline wrapper, chopped haylage in a bunker and corn silage in a bunker. We just ordered our own wrapper to do all of our hay in baleage this year and fill both bunkers with corn. The cows like the bales a lot better, we didn't see a change in milk but we could cheapen our grain ration a bit with the bales.
     
  5. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    I asked because in the future if I could not get enough help to put up square bales, id need some alternative to the hay. There is regular round bales, and if stored properly they shouldn't waste, and there is more wagons and a barn to park them all. But we use grass silage, best thing I could have done, and what a difference it has made with the animals. One thing though, last year being my first year for putting up haylage, I read fine chopped haylage works better with those silo unloaders. Well it seems even the longer stems work well too. So next year im going to store it with longer stems, and as you said milkstoolcowboy, if capped spoilage should not be an issue. We cap ours, and put about a 1/4 load on top of the plastic. It seals it. This fall I chopped and fed some hay, and I noticed a big difference even with the longer leaves in that stuff. When it cooked a little in a wagon, the smell was a lot sweeter than the stuff chopped fine. Maybe it was me, but it seemed better. I was told that longer chopped haylage has better nutritional value? I read this somewhere else too. We do feed dry hay, so the fine chopped stuff is fine. But this spring ill leave the chopper set where it is (longer cut) and give that a go.

    The silo is a stave silo, and even though ive heard many things negative about silos, this thing works like a charm. Even when she is pushing 70amps. The silo did sit dormant for over 10 years, the unloader we rebuilt last spring. But that plastic waste with baleage? What the heck do you all do with it?


    I agree milkstoolcowboy, turks is one fine heifer, she has a nice disposition too.


    Jeff