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.”

Weighing bales delivers accuracy and insight

Weighing bales is where you as a contractor can make a valuable difference. Weighing gives you and your customer plenty of information and supports farmers in their forage management strategy. It also provides transparency for both stakeholders and is therefore a sound basis for accurate invoicing. This extra service also gives you an opportunity to charge more for each bale.  

There are various methods of weighing: using a weighing system on the loader tractor or telehandler or driving the vehicle loaded with bales onto a weighbridge. There are also baler-wrapper combinations (BalePacks) on the market with integrated, on-board weighing systems. The advantage of these systems is that the amount of material that has been baled is recorded immediately per client or field, without any additional actions. The information is visible in real time on the display. 

Charging per bale, a transparent system?

If the farmer and the contractor agree to pay on the basis of the number of bales baled, a conflict of interests may arise: The contractor would like to bale at a slightly lower pressure to save fuel and protect the machine, while the farmer would like to get his forage baled at a good price-performance ratio. Invoicing on the basis of bale weights can be a good alternative here. 

 Weighing and measuring the dry matter content  

In an ideal situation, when the bale is in the bale grab the farmer knows how much forage is going to be fed and its quality. The solution is to weigh the bale, combined with measuring the dry matter content of the material. Samples of forage can be used to reveal the dry matter percentage of the entire cut of grass. This value, together with the weight of the bales produced from that cut, gives an insight into the amount of dry matter per bale being fed. This information allows the farmer to feed as accurately as possible and ensure feed efficiency. 


Uninterrupted baling operations

The moment when bales are produced is critical. An uninterrupted baling operation is vital for the quality of the forage. Downtime is not an option, so in the event of a malfunction the part you need has to be on site as quickly as possible. KUHN Parts helps you with smart logistics and rapid delivery.  

The harvest season is a peak period for the entire contracting company. The planning has to be right; clients want their grass baled, the machinery operatives are working flat out and the balers are really put through their paces. No matter what the conditions, the machinery has to keep running. If a tractor breaks down, it’s often relatively easy to organise a replacement, but locating a spare baler is a different matter. Downtime costs money, but that is not the main issue. As an agricultural contractor, the last thing you want is a dissatisfied client. Due to time pressure, a client will just as easily switch to another contracting company. Winning back their confidence is a challenge.  

Prevention is better than cure 

The KUHN dealer is your main partner for maintenance and repairs to your baler. The dealers are trained professionals and have all the necessary tools available. That is a very relevant point: ordering a spare part is one thing, but replacing it is something else. KUHN dealers have the necessary knowledge and expertise. The same applies to the winter maintenance check. During this check, every part of the baler is inspected and components susceptible to wear are also checked. These include the pre-stretcher rollers, oil filters, the driveline, knives, wrapper table belts, chains and chain sprockets. This inspection is performed with the greatest care. Despite this, one of the parts may need replacing during the harvest season.  

Parts are never far away

The complete range of spare parts is stored at KUHN in Saverne, France. The 26,000 square metre warehouse holds 80,000 parts in stock. Parts can be shipped from the warehouse 24/7. And to prevent the baler from unnecessarily long downtime, KUHN dealers always have the most common wear parts in stock. So never too far away. If a dealer does not have a certain part in stock, the KUHN SOS Order can help. The dealer can place an urgent order and the part will be supplied the next day by express delivery. If the delivery is less urgent, the dealer can use KUHN i search to contact other approved KUHN partners around the world to find the right part.  

As well as the services provided by the dealers, KUHN users can also arrange a lot themselves. Via the online MyKUHN portal you can order parts quickly. If you place an order in MyKUHN, your own dealer will be notified and can ensure the parts are sent to you as quickly as possible. Signing up to MyKUHN is free. To sign up, simply register using the serial number of your baler or other KUHN machine.  MyKUHN offers users many other benefits such as access to operator’s manuals and your settings and maintenance information. 

KUHN is ready to serve you and your client 

During the harvest season what really counts is minimum downtime and a satisfied client. There’s no need to use your time and energy finding and ordering spare parts – KUHN Parts can arrange it for you. Via the KUHN dealer, MyKUHN or via an express order.  

Discover KUHN Parts:


Also read: 

  • How does KUHN make a good bale 
  • Save costs with a smart approach to wrapping 
  • Weighing bales delivers accuracy and insight 

Save costs with a smart approach to wrapping

Every layer of film wrapped around a bale is one, and every layer of film costs money. Taking a smart approach to binding and wrapping film will deliver you some significant savings. On top of that, binding with film offers multiple advantages.  

Using six layers of film as standard in order to ensure the bale is sufficiently sealed and protected is often what you see in practice. But various factors influence the maximum number of film layers the bale actually needs. The guideline is: the drier the crop, the more layers of film. If the crop is wet, it’s probably fine to use fewer layers of film for wrapping. In addition to moisture content, the intended storage period is an important factor. After all, the more layers of film, the better the oxygen barrier so oxygen takes longer to reach the forage in the bale.  See the table below for our recommendations.

Good film for minimum air permeability 

In all cases, high quality film is vital for good preservation of the bale. Plastic wrapping film is never 100% airtight, but good film is characterised by minimum air permeability. Using lower quality film will affect how the crop is processed in the baler-wrapper combination and the overall forage quality. In addition, cheaper film increases the risk of forage losses, as air can penetrate the bales faster so to compensate for that, you need to use more layers of film to wrap the bale. 

Low costs with the same film 

Binding bales with net has been standard practice for years. However, film binding has been gaining ground on using net in recent years. And with its rise in popularity, the benefits of film binding are also becoming more evident. For example, a bale bound with film is more dimensionally stable, easier to open and has more oxygen-tight coverage. In addition, the farmer only has one type of waste material that is easy to dispose of. However, all benefits come at a price. Compared with net binding, binding a bale with film is up to €1 more expensive2. However, if the same film can be used to bind and wrap – as is the case with KUHN balers with film binding – this extra cost can be reduced to €0.50. If you decide to change from the standard six layers and take the condition of the crop material and storage conditions into account more, you can apply a total of five layers. This means the cost is identical to a net tied bale plus six layers of film wrap. And with young crop material with a sufficient sugar content3, you can even get away with using a layer of film less!   

Opening round silage bales: net versus film

Which bales are faster to open: net bound bales or film bound bales? To find this out we took up the silage bale opening challenge!

Film bound bales easier and faster to open

We opened a round grass bale bound with net and one bound with film. The outcome is clear: the film bound bale could be opened way easier and faster, without loss of forage due to it staying in the net. Moreover, a film-on-film bale has only one residual product which makes waste management more efficient.

Curious how we conduced the test? Watch the video:

Also read:


Calculate the quantity of wrapping film required for the coming season

The new grass season is just around the corner. As an owner of a baler-wrapper combination or a bale wrapper, you would like to know in advance how much wrapping film you will need and how much it will cost. That way, you can stock up in advance so you don’t miss out during the season. And just as important: buy the film at the best possible price. Did you know that you can easily calculate this with the KUHN Film Calculator?

How the film calculator works

The film calculator can be used for round and square bales. Enter some data such as the bale dimensions, the desired number of film layers and the current film price. You will immediately see the estimated quantity of film required and a cost indication. You can also download this overview as a PDF.

Use the KUHN Film Calculator and be prepared for the wrapping season!


Also read:

Five benefits of film binding for silage bales

Opening a bale, preservation, bale density and waste disposal. Working with silage bales involves more than you might think. If you purely examine the costs for film and net, then binding bales with film is slightly more expensive compared with using net. But you can more than recoup those extra costs thanks to the many benefits of film binding.  

1. Easier and faster to open 

Net-bound bales take an average of 30 seconds longer to open than film-bound bales, because the silage can get stuck in the mesh of the net. A bale that has been bound in film can easily be opened with a knife or special bale cutter. 

2. Less loss of silage 

Silage getting stuck in the net is not only annoying, valuable forage gets lost with each bale you open. In wintry conditions, when a bale is frozen, the losses are even higher as the net can freeze against the silage grass. An additional disadvantage is that pieces of net may become attached to the forage and present a risk to animal health.  

3. Higher feed quality 

Film bound bales have better dimensional stability, are more airtight and have a higher density. Net bound bales , on the other hand, tend to expand slightly and draw air into the bale. This encourages mould formation, among other things. Research has revealed that the loss of dry matter caused by mould is 80% lower in bales bound in film compared with bales bound in net1 

4. One type of waste 

When disposing of the used binding and wrapping materials for recycling, it is important that the materials are collected separately. For example, the used film must be separated from the bale nets. When bales are bound and wrapped using film, there is only one kind of waste. Save time by saying goodbye to separating the waste! 

5. Better yields 

Binding bales with film costs €0.50 to €1.00 per bale more, depending on the chosen system. However, the benefits in processing speed and convenience, and a guaranteed feed value offset these additional costs. In addition bales bound in film generally lead to better yields in the form of higher milk2 or beef production.

Film bound bale even cheaper than net bound?

We mentioned the price difference between the net and film used to bind and wrap bales above. However, a film bound bale can be even cheaper than a net bound bale. Like to know how? Read: Film bound bale cheaper than net bound with KUHN balerwrapper combination

In some situations, using net is a better option 

Of course, there are also situations where using net is a better option than film binding. For example, with very dry crops such as hay or straw. It is therefore important to get good advice so that you choose the solution that suits your farm management system best and delivers the highest return on investment.