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Why Baled Silage May Work Best in Wet Climates

In regions where it is difficult to dry hay because of wet weather, silage is becoming a popular alternative. This move toward silage began in the Midwest and Northeast where producers have found that the time between rainfalls is shrinking. This is a problem since making dry hay requires about five days of dry weather. Silage, on the other hand, only requires about one day.

The silage making process is easier and more flexible but it also allows you to cut hay when it is at peak quality. Dry hay requires producers to wait until there is a long enough stretch of dry weather which means the quality of hay can suffer. And quality really is the name of the game since it is means better feed efficiency. This feed efficiency means heavier beef cattle and dairy cattle that produce more milk.

There is less leaf loss with silage which allows leaves to hold a greater amount of protein from the plant. Therefore, the wetter the forage, the higher the crude protein content. Silage also is more appealing to cows.

But the benefits of silage don’t stop there. Some agricultural experts report that the silage making process leads to higher yields. Specifically, each day you drive over a field of alfalfa following mowing, about 6 percent yield is lost at the next cutting. Hay left in the field an extra week, then, can lead to a 42 percent yield loss.

Silage can be made with as little as 25 percent moisture content or as much as 70 percent. The key, however, is to get the hay wrapped within 24 hours after mowing. This allows fermentation to occur and the oxygen supply to be cut off.

Bacteria in the wrapped silage eliminates oxygen and this assists in the conversion of starches to sugar, creating lactic acid. Bacteria and lactic acid don’t alter the quality of the forage but do act as a preservative when it is time to use the hay bales as livestock feed. This means that quality changes occur after the wrapping is removed from the silage. That is why it is important to feed the baled silage as soon as the package is opened.

One final note, if you plan to make a great deal of silage, it is in your best interest to make sure that you have to type of hay and forage tools designed for making silage. And with all of its advantages, you may be making more and more of it.

 

Posted By: The Hay Manager

Posted on: 04/24/2018
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