If you are baling silage using silage wrap & film, you must be feeding enough animals! You are probably feeding at the rate of at least one bale per day in the cold of winter. Just as the bale is being fed, the next bale is being exposed to the air. Individually wrapped bales are generally not subject to exposure before being fed and therefore feeding time is somewhat more flexible.
Here are some additional “general rules” on how to feed silage bales or, in some cases, what not to do.
Pick a Good Location for Storage
Make sure that the storage location does not increase the chances of exposure to the elements or air. Some storage locations increase the likelihood of punctures in the plastic wrap.
This would include areas near trees that have fallen limbs, rodents and other vermin dens. Areas where stubbles of fresh-cut, thick grass should also be avoided, as many of these can create punctures that go unnoticed until it’s too late.
Mind the Fodder’s Moisture
Make sure the fodder is between 50 and 65 per cent moisture before wrapping and silaging. Baling, when fodder is too dry has got to be the most common problem; a field can start with the correct humidity and still end up being too dry. Dry fodder does not provide bacteria with enough moisture to allow sufficient fermentation.
Fungi allowed to grow during storage and feeding can lead to deterioration. Packing too wet is less common. However, silaging when it is too humid can lead to damaged silage as soon as it is exposed to air. Be careful to avoid excessive moisture in the fodder (e.g. little or no wilting before embalming, etc.), as this can lead to clostridia or botulism.
Don’t throw bales after they’ve been wrapped. Compression carriers or manipulators are better, but they can still stretch, rip, or drill bales. Any punctures in the plastic film can lead to small areas or even whole bales deteriorating.
When feeding several bales that have been wrapped utilising a silage wrap & film, simply throw them into the baler, lift and pull each one. The plastic between this bale and the next one will tear. Then cut the top open and peel a large section of the plastic.
To feed an individually wrapped bale, cut a large X at the end and pull back the flaps. Throw down the bale, lift, cut through the top, and go down the other flat side to peel the plastic into one piece. In both cases, the wrapper or cord should be removed before feeding to the animals.
Deal With Waste and Rejection Properly
Waste and rejection are rarely a problem when feeding silage unless a bale is being fed to only a few animals. If the silage remains when the feeding time has passed, place a fresh bale.
The silage process is usually completed within three to six weeks, depending on a large number of factors. Mostly, at any time, fodder can be fed, but this should only be done in emergency situations.