Making High Quality Baleage

At the 36th Alfalfa and Stored Forage Conference held recently in Cave City, Dennis Hancock gave an excellent presentation on making high quality baleage. The following Key Steps were taken from Dennis’s proceedings article.

  • Ensure that adequate moisture (45-60% moisture; 40-65% dry matter) is present to support the beneficial bacteria that cause fermentation.
  • Do not bale at high moisture (> 65% moisture) to avoid excessive alcohol production. High moisture can cause secondary fermentation, reduced intake, and even animal poisoning (e.g., botulism, listeriosis).
  • Make dense bales and wrap them as soon as possible after baling to exclude oxygen quickly. This minimizes heat damage and excessive DM loss. Apply 6 or more layers of plastic on individually wrapped bales and 8 or more layers on inline-wrapped baleage bales. If possible, double the plastic layers between bales when using an inline wrapper.
  • Ensure that the plastic is being pre-stretched 50-70% before it’s wrapped around the bales (refer to  specifications in the owner’s manual).
  • Add homofermentative and/or heterofermentative bacterial inoculants to promote more rapid pH drop and/or more stable silage, respectively. Use the inoculant for the forage crop to be ensiled.
  • Avoid mixing the inoculant in chlorinated water and use inoculant rates of at least 100,000 colony forming units/g. Keep inoculant temperature below 100 °F.

~ Dennis Hancock, 36th Annual KY Alfalfa and Stored Forages Conference. Full proceedings at UK Forage Extension website.