Wrapping Hay to Beat the Weather April 1, 2016
Some years rain plays havoc with hay quality. When dark clouds are on the horizon some go ahead and bale the tough hay and hope it doesn’t spoil or get hot and burn. Others wait out the storm and cross their fingers that the rains will hit their row crop fields but miss their hay fields.
If rain often damages your high quality hay just before it’s ready to bale, there’s a baling method that may help solve that problem.
Bale the tough hay, then wrap it with stretch wrap plastic to keep water and air out while keeping nutrients in. This can improve your forage quality and reduce weather-related losses.
Studies have shown excellent success wrapping bales containing 25%-40% moisture. After a full year in storage, the hay came out of the wrapping in great shape, with little storage loss, a nice silage-like odor, and well-preserved nutrients.
Wrapping tough hay reduces weather risk because wrapping often occurs a day sooner than normal baling. Both yield and forage quality can be higher because fewer leaves are lost than with dry hay.
This method does require a lot of plastic, though. Six or seven layers are needed to maintain feed quality. If you don’t use enough plastic or fail to repair any holes, this hay can quickly spoil.