The advantages of a higher bale density

A bale of grass with higher density has multiple advantages. Fewer bales are needed to store the same amount of crop, which reduces the costs for transport, storage and film. But the greatest advantage is higher forage quality.  

Round bales with a 10% higher density – a calculation example 

A farmer has to bale 1000 tons of grass a year with an average dry matter percentage of 40%. With an average bale weight of 650 kg, the total is 1539 bales a year. If the baler is set to a higher baling pressure, the bale density increases. So, if the bale density is 10% higher on average, what is the result? 

Baseline calculation example: 

Amount of grass per year  1000 tons 
Average dry matter content  40% 
Bale diameter   1.3 m 

Low density: 

Average bale weight  650 kg 
Number of bales   1539 bales 

10 % higher density: 

Average bale weight  715 kg 
Number of bales  1399 bales 

In the example above, a 10% higher bale density adds up to 140 fewer bales per year for the same volume of silage. And there’s no need to use any film for those 140 bales. With film costing €99 for a roll of 1500 metres, the cost to wrap 6 layers of film is €4.501. Film binding costs €1.27 per bale2. The total cost for film is €5.77 per bale. This delivers a total saving on film costs of €808 per year. Using less film also lowers the environmental impact.  

Savings on film costs: 

Wrapping 6 layers of film3  €4.50 
Binding 3 layers of film4  €1.27 
The total cost for film per bale is  €5.77 
Annual savings  €808 

And, additionally, there are 140 fewer bales that need to be transported from the field to the yard and you save storage space for 140 bales. This gives a total annual saving of € 526 on transport and storage costs.  

Savings on transport and storage costs: 

Transport costs per bale5  €1.67 
Storage costs per bale6   €2.09 
Total transport and storage costs per bale  €3.76 
Annual savings  €526 

Less air, more and better forage

10% more grass in the bale replaces air, which results in less oxygen in the bale. Less oxygen in the bale is beneficial for a fast and effective preservation process. Some amount of energy and dry matter is always lost in the bale because sugars are converted into water and CO2 by bacteria that need oxygen. The less oxygen there is in the bale, the faster this process will stop so more dry matter and energy will be retained in the silage. A higher bale density also benefits good shape retention as the bale is less likely to collapse. If a bale collapses, the layers of wrapping can slip apart and allow oxygen to enter the bales between the film layers. This will restart the decomposition process leading to losses of dry matter and energy.

At least 2% loss of dry matter 

2% less of dry matter thanks to a higher bale density is a realistic assumption according to Sjon de Leeuw of agricultural consultancy PPP-Agro. In practice, the difference may even be much higher. In the example of 1000 tons of grass a year with a dry matter content of 40%, the total amount of dry matter is 400 tons. A 2% loss means 8000 kg more dry matter retention per year. At an average cost of €0.16 per kg of dry matter, this converts to a saving of €1,280 per year. The costs of producing the grass, such as fertilising, mowing and baling, have already been made. If additional forage has to be bought, then the costs of the dry matter losses are even higher.  

Savings through better preservation: 

Total dry matter per year  400 tons 
Lower dry matter loss in %  2% 
Lower dry matter loss in kg  8000 kg 
Forage costs per kg of dry matter7  €0.16 
Annual savings  €1,280 


‘Homegrown concentrate’

The greatest benefits are to be found in terms of agronomy. Better forage quality improves bale palatability which leads to a higher feed intake by the cows. Optimal preservation also reduces mould in the bales and lowers the health risks. This in turn lowers the costs for veterinary care. Higher quality forage makes it easier to maintain good milk production levels in dairy cattle.  

Fewer other ingredients have to be added to the feed to compensate, so it is easier to formulate a balanced ration. A good bale equals ‘homegrown concentrate’. 

Slightly more fuel may be needed to create a higher bale density, and there will be more wear and tear on the machine. But, in the majority of cases the advantages will outweigh these disadvantages.  

Summary of benefits

Financial benefits (calculation example): 

Savings on film costs : €808 

Savings on transport and storage costs : €526 

Lower dry matter loss : €1,280 

Total annual savings : €2,614 

Agronomic benefits: 

  • Better forage palatability à higher feed intake 
  • Less mould in the bale à lower health risks  à lower costs veterinary care 
  • Possibly easier to maintain milk production levels due to better forage quality  
  • A better bale a ‘homegrown concentrate’

Also read: 

Fixed or variable bale chamber, which baler is best for me?

An important question to consider when purchasing a round baler or baler-wrapper: which type of bale chamber is most suitable? A fixed bale chamber with rollers, a variable bale chamber or a high density (HD) bale chamber that can produce a variable bale size? We have listed the advantages and disadvantages of each type of bale chamber below.  

Fixed bale chamber 

A fixed bale chamber is a round chamber with driven steel rollers that rotate and form a round bale. This is a reliable and easy method of producing a good bale. A fixed chamber baler will still produce a good bale even under difficult conditions, for example, with short or wet crops.  

When the bale chamber is being filled, the operator can use the full intake capacity. The baler will only start to compact the crop when the bale chamber is almost full. After being wrapped, the bale is ejected quickly to start forming another new bale. This means that a fixed chamber baler wrapper has a high capacity.  

Due to the maintenance-friendly, reliable concept and its user-friendliness and high capacity, an advantage of a fixed chamber baler is the low cost per bale. However, the disadvantage of a fixed bale chamber is that it offers no versatility in bale diameter, and compared with a variable bale chamber it is more difficult to create good bale density with drier crops such as hay and straw.  


  • User-friendly method; easy to produce a good bale 
  • Extremely reliable concept with fixed rollers 
  • Good cost price per bale 
  • Low power requirement 
  • High capacity
  • Very suitable for short and wet autumn crops 


  • Variable bale diameter not possible 
  • Less suitable for drier crops such as hay and straw compared with a variable bale chamber 
Bale chamber of a fixed chamber baler

Variable bale chamber  

A variable bale chamber has a combination of fixed rollers and adjustable belts that can increase the size of the chamber. Baling pressure is built up from the core until the desired diameter is reached. It is also possible to set whether the bale should have a soft or hard core and a soft or harder outer layer. The variable concept also has a better ability to produce a good bale with a high density from dry crops such as hay and straw.  

With a fixed bale chamber, the last bale to be formed might not have filled the bale chamber, so the final bale is not as firm. A variable bale chamber can compact and bind the bale well even if the chamber is not completely full.  

A variable bale chamber excels in versatility. It can produce bale silage with a diameter of 1.3 m in the morning, switch to forming smaller hay bales in the afternoon and finish with large straw bales in the evening. All possible with the same machine. 

A variable bale chamber is easy to use but demands a little more experience to produce the perfect bale. Especially in wet conditions, it can be more difficult to produce perfect bales.  


  • Variable bale size possible, from small bales for horses to large straw bales, for example
  • A larger bale size can save money
  • Well-compressed bales from start to finish
  • Variable density from core to outer layer possible
  • More suitable for dry crops such as hay and straw
  • Exceptionally good cost price per bale
  • Low power requirement#


  • The operator will need a little more experience to produce perfect bales 
  • Less suitable for extremely wet autumn crops  
Bale chamber of a variable chamber baler

Variable HD bale chamber

n 2022, KUHN introduced a variable high density (HD) baler-wrapper: the VBP 7100 series. This model combines the advantages of a fixed and variable bale chamber in one machine. It can bale extremely wet crops in the same way as fixed bale chamber, but it can also bale hay and straw with an extremely high bale density. The intake is designed to fill the bale chamber quickly in the same way as a fixed bale chamber. The bales are also ejected at the same speed as a fixed chamber thanks to a special bale chamber concept with two tension arms. This allows the tailgate to open and close quickly, and the belts are immediately tensioned ready to start forming a new bale. This innovative technology means the machine can easily create perfect bales in all conditions.  

An HD baler-wrapper can form bales with extremely high densities. As a high bale density contains a higher volume of crop, high forage quality and lower transport costs are guaranteed. The heavy-duty construction of the bale chamber makes the machine extremely robust. The machine is over-dimensioned, so if a standard bale density is used, the machine’s service life will be extended further.  

However, the price of a baler-wrapper with a variable HD bale chamber is higher than a model with a standard bale chamber. A larger tractor is also needed to utilise the high capacity of this heavier machine.    


  • Combines a standard fixed bale chamber and a variable bale chamber in one machine: 
  • Variable chamber enables variable bale size 
  • Innovative technology makes creating a good bale shape easy 
  • Suitable for short and wet autumn crops  
  • The variable chamber is also extremely suitable for dry crops 
  • High capacity  
  • Heavy-duty construction 
  • High bale density 
  • High forage quality  
  • Lower transport costs  
  • Extended machine service life if used for standard bale density 


  • Higher investment
  • Larger tractor required compared with a fixed or standard variable bale chamber
Bale chamber of a high-density baler

Also read: 

    • How does KUHN make a good bale? 
    • Save costs with a larger bale diameter  
    • The advantages of a higher bale density 

Costs savings thanks to a larger bale diameter

A baler-wrapper with a fixed bale chamber produces round bales of approximately 1.3 m in diameter. A baler-wrapper with a variable bale chamber can bale and wrap bales up to 1.6 m in diameter. This flexibility can be extremely useful, and a larger bale diameter can result in a lower cost per ton of forage. 

A round bale with a larger diameter: a calculation example

Take a bale of 1.3 m in diameter and 1.2 m wide that is bound with three effective layers of film, then wrapped with six layers of film. The three effective layers of film binding cost €1.27 with the KUHN TWIN-reel system. This calculation is based on standard wrapping film rolls of 1500 metres that cost €99 each. The six wrapping layers cost a total of €4.50 for film. This adds up to a total cost per bale of €5.77 for film.  

If the same calculation is made for bales with a diameter of 1.45 m, the costs for film binding are €1.38 and the six layers of film for wrapping are €5.37 per bale. This brings the total cost of binding and wrapping a bale to €6.75. This is an increase of 17% compared with the 1.3 m diameter bale. However, in this case the volume of crop in one bale is higher. A 1.3 m bale converts to 1593 litres, while a bale of 1.45 m in diameter has a volume of 1982 litres: that is 24% more crop per bale. If you calculate the costs of film per cubic metre, the result is €3.62 and € 3.41 per m3 of crop respectively. That represents a saving of 6 %. A bale of 1.6 m in diameter has a volume of no less than 2413 litres. So, the savings are even higher! In total, 13 % lower costs for film per m3. However, in practice it is more difficult to transport bales of 1.6 m and they can be quite heavy.  

Calculation example 1.45 / 1.6 m bale diameter compared with 1.3 m

Bale diameter   Bale volume  Increase in bale volume compared with 1.3 m  Film used per bale  Film costs per m3  Bale handling costs  Output 
1.3 m  1.59 m3           
1.45 m  1.98 m3  + 24%  + 17%  – 6%  – 20%  + 3% 
1.6 m  2.41 m3  + 51%  + 31%  – 13%  – 34%  + 4% 

Table 1: Calculation example difference 1.45 / 1.60 m bale diameter compared with 1.3 m bale diameter  

Save film and time  

Let’s take a farmer who produces 2000 silage bales with a diameter of 1.3 m per year as an example. If this farmer decides to produce 1.45 m diameter bales using a variable baler-wrapper, the same volume of silage will fit into approximately 1600 bales. That converts to 400 bales fewer a year.  

The total savings on film for this farmer are €688 a year.  

An additional benefit is 400 fewer bales that need to be loaded, transported and stacked, plus the baler operator can stop 400 fewer times a year to bind and eject a bale. And as less film is used, the total number of times the film must be changed on the binder and wrapper is significantly lower.  

Advantages of a larger bale diameter: 

  • Saves on net and film costs 
  • Using less net and film reduces the time spent on changing net and film 
  • Fewer stops to bind and eject bales 
  • Fewer bales to load, transport and stack 

Also read: 

Tedding Grass In 2023

Tedding grass for silage is becoming more and more popular every year. By cutting grass early in the morning and tedding the crop immediately after can make wilting speed five times faster. By tedding the grass it increases dry matter and preserves the concentration of essential nutrients for high quality silage. Livestock will benefit from this when feeding during the winter period.

KUHN offer several model specifications tedders from small single rotors to large sixteen rotors. Each model has unique features suited to certain farms and crop types. All of the machines have unique KUHN features that make it the best tedder on the market.


The patented DIGIDRIVE System is made from foraged case-hardened treated steel. This allows the farmer/contractor to work a wide range of angles making the crop easier to work.

It allows for 180 degree tight compact folding during transport and entering narrow gateways. The DIGIDRIVE System is maintenance free meaning there is very little downtime during the busy silage season.

Since the launch of the DIGIDRIVE finger drive system twenty years ago, more than a million rotors have been working all around the world, tedding forage with exceptional reliability.


Asymmetrical Tines For Clean Pick-Up

The KUHN Tedders tine length has a massive factor in the quality of tedding. The outer finger moves into the forage earlier and this ensures a more complete tedding process. This system works very well on the areas that can be difficult to work e.g. field borders. Better tedding leads to higher quality wilting which results in high bale quality.


Smaller Rotors = Advantage

When you think of small you may not always think of better. In this case KUHN’s smaller rotors has many advantages:

  • Improved ground following on uneven surfaces
  • Improved overlap between two rotors
  • Rotor is more inclined meaning improved forage turning
  • Higher quality forage spreading for better and even drying

Silage Season 2023 Starts

The KUHN FBP 3135 Baler/Wrapper Combination was seen in action last week in County. Kilkenny. The machine was sold by KUHN dealer Cooke Agri our newest dealer in 2023. As expected the machine preformed exceptionally well producing top quality firm round bales. The balers key features were captured in the video below.

Key Features

INTEGRAL Rotor Technology

This simple, maintenance-free intake system guarantees an enormous throughput capacity at all times. The short distance between the rotor and pick-up tines maintains consistent crop flow. The design of this force-fed intake makes higher forward speeds possible for increased productivity and reduced crop damage.

TWIN-reel film binding system

Film binding system uses two regular 750 mm stretch-film rolls. Using regular wrapping film enables you to use a much higher pre-stretch ratio compared to conventional wide film binding systems.  This eliminates the need for special wide film, which simplifies your inventory management. Film binding improves the silage quality, bale shape, stability and opening of the bale.

3D Wrapping

This is an intelligent way of applying stretch film to bales. This system distributes the film quantity more uniformly and efficiently across the entire surface of the bale. 3D wrapping applies film where its most needed around the bale shoulders for example. The cylindrical wrapping system ensures more air is excluded retaining shape during storage.


The redesigned heart of the baler consists of 18 POWERTRACK rollers. The 18 renewed POWERTRACK rollers have symmetrical profiles which generate exceptionally high density and reliable bale rotation in all crop conditions. All rollers are made of 3.2 mm thick high-strength steel which are roll-formed and laser-welded on only one side for optimal durability. In addition, minimum of space between the rollers reduces crop loss.




KUHN completed the challenge of opening a net and film bound bales. The KUHN FBP 3135 Combination baler has the option of binding bales with net or with film. The KUHN patented* film binding system uses two regular 750 mm stretch-film rolls. It eliminates the need for special wide film, which simplifies film stocking for customers and reduces film binding costs by 37%. Film binding improves the silage quality, bale shape, stability and facilitates the opening of the bale.

Some farmers have their own preference and this feature is extremally useful. Film binding is relatively new to the Irish market. Not all balers can offer this feature which is why net binding is still quite popular in Ireland. Film binding has several key features such as less waste for recycling and the silage bale is much easier to open thanks to having less plastic applied. The operator can change the rolls without having to lift and heavy, wide film rolls up onto the machine.   There are few disadvantages of film binding that it is more expensive then net. In the long run film will cost you less and will improve your livestock’s milk yield and overall better feed quality. The operator can change the rolls without having to lift and heavy, wide film rolls up onto the machine.

If a farmer prefers net binding the contractor can switch by the push of a bottom. The KUHN FBP 3135 can carry both film and net at the same time. This makes switching from film to net an easy process without any lifting or changing of rolls. This saves time for both the farmer and the contractor.

Film Binding Key Features

  • Less plastic waste
  • Better oxygen barrier
  • Tightly packed bale
  • Easier to stack bales
  • Fast film removal
  • Ease of feeding
  • Improved silage quality
  • Less mould
  • Better feeding quality
  • No heavy lifting (net much heavier)
  • Reduced risk of bursting bales

KUHN Bale Opening Challenge

KUHN headquarters took on the challenge of opening a net and film bound bale. As you can see from the results film binding is much more efficient for farmers. There is less waste and the bale is opened a lot faster then a net bound bale. Net can cause issues when taking it off as feed can fall out as it hasn’t been compacted enough. This usually leads to mould and silage waste that cannot be fed to cattle.

Film binding produces a much firmer rounder bale making it easier to feed and stack over the winter. These bales retain its shape very well. By being tightly packed ensures no oxygen gets in ensuring no mould growth on the feed. This makes for a high quality silage bale to help with higher milk yields.

How to exchange the wrapping film rolls

How to exchange the wrapping film rolls

On a busy day of harvesting, contractors want their work to be complete efficiently, quickly, and as easy as possible. The wrapping film used on the baler-wrapper is exchanged regularly during the baling process. KUHN has made this process as easy as possible.

Watch this instruction video to see how quick and easy the process is: 


How does it work?

With the FBP and VBP models, the film rolls can be removed from the film magazines from a comfortable working height. The film rolls on the wrappers are also at a convenient height. The conical design of the pre-stretch rollers creates a convenient space to insert and position the stretch film. The ends of the two film rolls can be clamped in a special holder on the wrapping table to hold them firm at the start of the wrapping process. They are then released immediately so no film residues are left on the machine or on the field. When both wrapping film rolls have been exchanged and the empty rolls have been stored, the operator can quickly continue baling and wrapping round bales. 

The steps in summary:

  1. Open pre-stretcher
  2. Open roll holder
  3. Exchange film roll
  4. Close roll holder and pre-stretcher
  5. Pull film through the pre-stretcher and attach to the wrapper
  6. Repeat steps for the other film roll 

The KUHN film binding system uses the same film rolls as the film wrapping system. No special, wide mantle film is needed. An added benefit for stock management! 

Read more: 

  • Save costs with a smart approach to wrapping [link to blog 8] 
  • The right number of film layers for good forage quality [ link to blog 19] 
  • Uninterrupted baling operations [ blog 15] 

Mould in the bale can cost you dearly

Sometimes mould forms in a bale. Feeding mouldy bales to the cows involves a potentially high risk. “A small patch of mould is not a big issue, you can cut it out of the bale. But if there are several mouldy patches, it’s best to cut your losses and get rid of the affected bale,” says Sjon de Leeuw, management and strategy consultant at PPP Agro Advies. “But prevention is better than cure.”

Homogeneous composition

There are various factors that can cause mould to form in bales. The main cause is air penetrating into the bale. Crude ash in the bales also creates a risk of mould. De Leeuw: “And when the composition of the bale is not homogeneous, for instance because wet and dry grass have been mixed, mould formation is inevitable.”

Measures to prevent mould start at harvesting. The mower must be set properly to avoid crude ash in the grass. The same applies to the tedder, rake and baler settings. “If a contractor does a good job and bales, binds and wraps the crop in the right way, any risk of mould formation is already reduced during an early stage of forage production,” says de Leeuw. “Subsequently, it is essential to ensure the bales are stacked in the right way in the right place. Measures taken to prevent air entering the bales through holes caused by birds, for example, will further reduce the risk of mould.”

Feeding mouldy bales is the same as feeding toxins

“In general, farmers have difficulty throwing feed away. But that is my advice if you find a mouldy bale. Should you decide to feed your animals a mouldy bale, what you are basically doing is feeding them harmful toxins. Those toxins can cause rumen acidification, reduce milk production and lead to issues with hoof health and weakened immunity. If you delay taking action until you have to cull cows, you are much too late. Prevention is better than cure.” advises de Leeuw.

De Leeuw: “Feed losses translate to a higher cost price. If something went wrong during the harvesting process or the bale was damaged during storage, there is a high risk of mould. On average, you can expect a €0.01 feed loss per kilogram of dry matter. So, as you can imagine, the damage caused by mould can be considerable. But my strong advice is, if you discover mould in the bales, accept your losses as the financial damage will always be less severe than having sick cows. If you feed poor quality rations that €0.01 per kilogram will soon multiply and cost you dearly. And that will make the cost price far too high.”

Baling alternative forage crops

The availability of various types of forage contributes to creating optimal rations. And producing various types of forage crops yourself means you can buy less from external sources. In addition to grass, you can decide to grow lucerne, legume mixtures, herb rich grassland, cereals or clover, for example. “The motto is: always combine bales that have a rich structure quality with bales with a poorer structure. And it’s also important to keep a close eye on the protein and sugar content,” says Sjon de Leeuw, management and strategy advisor at PPP Agro Advies. 

Attention for producing and preserving forage

The nutritional value of lucerne and clover is not always evident and according to de Leeuw, highly depends on all the various steps in the production and preservation processes. If all the steps from mowing to preservation are done correctly, the crops are ideal for storing as bales. “But if you want to limit loss of leaf material with clover, you have to carefully weigh up whether to use the tedder or not in the time before baling,” says de Leeuw. “So, how can you dry the crop enough to bale it and how can you create a homogeneous bale? Clover is rich in protein. If clover is baled before it is properly dry – or is not evenly dry – there is a higher risk of heating and rotting during the preservation process. However, if the clover is over-dried by being tedded again, you will lose more leaf material than desirable. In that case, you have to accept losing the important protein content of the crop. The same advice applies to lucerne, with lucerne being even more sensitive than clover. If you want to ted the crop, do it immediately after mowing. In both cases, finding a responsible and optimal balance is key.”  

Efficient use of forage

Careful handling of grass, clover or lucerne will help maintain a good stock of forage on your farm. “So that you can minimise the quantities you have to purchase elsewhere”, says de Leeuw. “But having a good stock of forage is not where it ends. The forage must contain an optimal net energy value for lactation. The next challenge for you as a dairy farmer is getting your herd to utilise the forage well. If it becomes less tasty and palatable, you will see that reflected immediately in a lower feed intake. The rate at which forage passes though the rumen and intestines should not be too high, because this leads to a too high feed intake and too low feed utilisation and conversion. How high the rumen passage rate can or may be largely depends on which forages are available and can be fed as rations.” 

KUHN GA 7631 Twin-Rotor Rake Is Handling Irish Crop With Ease

The KUHN GA 7631 Twin-Rotor Rake is proving a successful purchase for Roscommon Contractor Kenneth Harrington. This Twin-Rotor Rake stands out from competing models. Its outstanding robustness, reliability and exceptional ground following are all key features that make this machine so popular.
Its MASTERDRIVE GIII Gearbox is designed to ensure reliability and durability even in the most challenging conditions. The Irish crop tends to be very heavy, but this is not an issue for the GA 7631 Twin-Rotor Rake. Swath formations are clean thanks to its double-curved arms. This feature reduces the distance between tine passes allowing for raking at higher speeds. The neat swath formation ensures faster drying and makes it easier for the baler/harvester to pick up. This leads to higher-quality forage for winter feeding.
Protecting the ground is an essential aspect of silage-making. The KUHN GA 7631 Rake achieves less ground pressure thanks to its perfect rotor adaptation. This helps protect the ground and plant stubble promoting clean raking for higher-quality forage. The ground is undamaged, encouraging faster regrowth for the second and third cuts.
Hydraulic work width and windrow width adjustment come as standard. The KGA 01S electronic control box is available to control individual rotor lift to prevent damaging rows and individual hydraulic adjustment of raking height.

Kenneths Verdict

“I find the KUHN GA 7631 Twin Rotor Rake unbelievably smooth and silent. Its suspension and ground following are exceptional on uneven ground! Its MASTERDRIVE GIII gearbox can easily handle the heavy Irish crop, which helps speed our work up when under pressure. This gearbox requires very little maintenance and is extremely reliable. Its hydraulic cut-off valves used instead of mechanical stops are a nice touch as the rake never fights against itself on the headlands. Its hyper-tangential tine arms provide cleaner raking making it easier for pick-up. This feature allows us to work faster and we don’t have to worry about breaking any tines. The rake is very compact and is easily transported on roads and through narrow gaps. We are delighted with the KUHN GA 7631 Twin-Rotor Rake and glad we chose KUHN.”