Wrapping Hay To Beat The Weather

Wrapping Hay To Beat The Weather

April 11, 2008

Does rain often damage your high quality hay just before it's ready to bale? Even when you study weather reports and do your best to cut when good drying weather is expected, rain can come unexpectedly and damage your hay.

When dark clouds are on the horizon and your hay still is a little too wet, consider baling it tough, then wrapping it in plastic to keep water and air out and nutrients in.

Recent studies have had excellent success wrapping bales that were 25%-40% moisture. After a full year in storage, the hay came out of the wrapping in great shape, with very little storage loss, a nice silage odor, and well preserved nutrients. With this method, both yield and forage quality can be higher because fewer leaves are lost than with dry hay. Wrapping tough hay also reduces weather risk because wrapping often occurs a day sooner than normal baling.

Wrapping does require six to seven layers of plastic to maintain feed quality. If you don't use enough plastic or fail to repair any holes, hay with this level of moisture can spoil very quickly. 

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist