Hay list: wrap it right and store it right

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Care is needed when storing round bales of hay.
Care is needed when storing round bales of hay. © Texas A&M AgriLife Extension/Blair Fannin

Using net wrap and storing large round hay bales with care goes a long way in minimising losses, a Texas A&M expert has told farmers.

Storing bales under cover, rather than leaving them outside, also helps minimise losses, Dr Stephen Hammack told farmers at the recent Blackland Income Growth Conference in Waco, Texas.

“There’s generally less loss when net wrapped versus twine wrapped,” Hammack said. “The tighter they are, the less the loss.”

Dr Stephen Hammack.
Dr Stephen Hammack. © Blair Fannin

Also speaking at the conference with Hammack, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist emeritus, was AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist Dr. Jason Banta.

According to research at Louisiana State University, there was 3 percent loss over a 280-day period when round bales were stored in a pole barn, 9 percent when stored under a tarp, and 15 percent loss when left outside with no protection.

“You want to minimize ground contact,” Hammack said. “You can use pallets, tyres, a rock pad or store bales in a barn. You also want to store in a sunny location with a breeze. You don’t want to store in shade because the bales will take longer to dry out after a rain, leading to increased losses.”

Hammack recommends not storing bales side by side, but rather end to end. A plastic tarp covering also helps protect the bales and it prevents water from penetrating the top of the bale.

“You can waste a lot of money on hay or save a lot of money with different storage and feeding methods,” he said.

There are several methods that can be used to eliminate feeding waste. Hammack said the best way is to restrict intake by using hay rings or rolling out the hay.

He also said it was important the animals cleaned up the hay before they were fed any more.

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