Sponsored: The business benefits of baleage
Harvesting dry hay may still be more common, but baleage is on the rise in Europe and the United States, as well as Eastern Canada, says Erin Atkins, a marketing specialist for CLAAS of America.
“Producers are always looking at what others are doing and if they’re seeing that it works, they’re very open to trying different practices,” she says.
When it comes to baleage, there’s a reason why farmers are making the switch: producers can cut and bale with moisture at about 50 per cent, where they typically have to wait until moisture drops well below 50 per cent to cut dry hay, says Atkins.
“The upside is that you don’t have such a precise window,” she says. “The crop doesn’t need to dry down in the field as long.” This represents a major plus for producers in wet years.
But the benefits don’t stop there, Atkins says. Because wet leaves don’t break off, baling at higher moisture eliminates leaf loss, which directly translates to higher-quality feed – improved sugar content in a wet versus dry crop means better fermentation, which is good for beef and dairy.
Patrice Dery, territory sales manager for CLAAS in Eastern Canada, says there are other benefits as well, including reduced dry matter losses in the field compared to dry hay, less storage loss and, often, reduced feeding losses.
Baling does require a wrapper, says Atkins, and many farms aren’t equipped with that, which means producers have to assess the advantages of running baleage over harvesting dry hay.
Dery says CLAAS has devoted research and testing to baleage. Systems that complete the wrapping during baling to ensure the best possible hay quality, like their Rollant 455 RC/Uniwrap system, work particularly well. The system’s high-speed wrapping arm drive means the wrapping process is accelerated by over 30 per cent – so it takes only 23 seconds for six layers of film.
The 455 Uniwrap features reinforced compaction rollers and large-sized, long-life chains. The steel-roller rolling chamber is equipped with the hydraulic MPS Plus compaction system. The Roto Cut feeding system and the MPS help maintain good bale core pressure, which means higher bale density and proper ensiling.
Bert Roos, a Brownsville, Ont. producer, says he runs two CLAAS balers on his operation. Roos has been baling since 2001, and for him, baling is a no-brainer.
“The main reason we do baleage is that there aren’t enough good drying days in a row to make dry hay without getting a rain on it,” he says. “If you do get rain you lose too much protein, so it’s better to cut the hay and keep the protein in it.”