Tips For Feeding Baled Silage

Colquitt County Ag Agent Jeremy Kichler wrote this article on baled silage in the UGA Forage Newsletter:

Baled silage has increased in popularity among forage producers over the last few years. This production system, when compared to hay, can help producers avoid high losses associated with outside storage. Baled silage production can be an advantage to producers because of the ability to bale forage at a higher moisture content when wet weather patterns occur.

Cattle or forage producers should never leave baled silage exposed to air for more than two days during feeding. If the daytime temperature exceed 60 degrees F, then cut down exposure time to no more than one day. If you are using an in-line bale wrapper, you must feed enough animals to consume at least one bale per day in the winter. Once a bale is taken away to the feeding site, the next bale is being exposed to air which can result in wasted forage.


A poor choice in a storage site can increase the likely hood of holes appearing in plastic wrap, which results in oxygen  exposure. Once the bale is exposed to air, then the forage begins to deteriorate which results in additional feed costs. Baled silage needs to placed away from fence rows and trees which can cause holes in the plastic. Growers need to inspect stored forages on a consist basis in order to find and repair plastic holes quickly. If you have to repair small holes before the baleage is fed then patch the hole with tape that has been treated with a UV inhibitor.

Producers often struggle with baling forage at the correct moisture. Forages in this production systems need to be between 45-65% moisture before it is wrapped and ensiled. Baling the crop too dry is common because a field may start out at the right moisture and end up being too dry. Forage that is too dry does not contain enough moisture for bacteria to perform sufficient fermentation. If forage moisture is too high then spoilage occurs quickly when exposed to air.

If you have used an-line wrapper and need to feed a bale then simply spear into the bale, lift, and pull away. The plastic between it and the next bale will tear away. Then cut over the top and peel the plastic off in one large section. If you have individually wrapped bales, cut a large X in the end that will be speared and then pull back the flaps. Spear the bale, lift, and cut across the top and down the other flat side to peel the plastic off in one piece. In both cases, twine should then be removed before placing in the paddock and placing a feeding ring around the bale. Wastage and refusal are rarely an issue with feeding baled silage, unless a bale is being fed to too few animals.


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