Preventing bale damage 

Damage to bales can be caused during transport, by pests or weather conditions. Reducing the risk of damage is important to safeguard the best possible forage quality. Storing the bales correctly plays a key role in this. 

Firstly, selecting a well-drained site to store the bales is vital. This must be located far enough away from fences, trees, water and protected from weather influences. Ideally the bales should be stacked within 12 hours of wrapping to avoid exposure damage in the field. Using a bale grab is recommended, try to avoid a bale spike as this can puncture the film allowing oxygen and moisture to enter the bale which could affect the silage fermentation process and cause moulds. 

For optimal retention of bale quality, do not stack higher than three bales and round bales should preferably be laid on their flat side. It is best not to stack bales with a low dry matter content, as the weight of the bales may cause them to settle and collapse. This creates friction that causes the film layers to slip apart, or in the worst case, tear.   

Avoid bale damage caused by birds 

Cover the stack with a silage protection net to prevent birds from damaging the bales. Remember to secure the net to the ground so birds cannot fly underneath it and to stop birds from pecking through the net and still damaging the bales, leave space between the top of the bales and the net.  

Check and repair bale damage 

Have you stacked the bales correctly, bird-proofed the stack, excluded weather influences and is the stack far enough away from the livestock? In that case, you should have minimised the risk of damage. However, you should still inspect the bales regularly and check if the stack is not starting to collapse – rectify any damage immediately. It is important not store bales for too long; the maximum storage time depends on the number of layers of film and dry matter content of the crop. See the table below for our advice (the maximum storage time is also indicated on the film roll packaging): 

Bales offer flexibility

Baling forage enables more flexibility in your feeding cycle. Your livestock will have more consistent quality feed throughout the year with minimised feed and quality losses.  

Drive over piles and silage clamps are common methods of storing grass. Simply load several cuts of grass into a pile or clamp, cover it with plastic and soil or tyres, and you have a whole season of forage for your cattle. It is important to cover the silage well, utilise the space well, compact the pile and ensure it is airtight. The ideal dry matter content of grass for ensilaging into a pile or clamp is between 35 and 45% and certainly not higher than 45%, so driving over the pile offers sufficient compacting1 

Baling is the ideal solution for complete control of the feed ration and to achieve a consistently high quality forage. Every bale is a small store of feed that is opened fresh each time. So directly baling grass using a baler and wrapper combination, results in higher feed quality and avoids silage losses. Moreover, baling is suitable for a wide range of dry matter content. 

Mixing for consistent feed values

Just like clamp silage, the feed value of bales can vary. However, unlike clamp silage, bales with a lower feed value can be mixed with a bale with a higher feed value to give you more control of the composition of your feed rations and maintain correct dry matter contents and feed values in the rations.  

Bales are labour saving 

It can be a costly operation to make clamp silage due to the infrastructure, machinery and labour need. With the KUHN baler-wrapper combinations, the forage is being collected and preserved in one pass and all you need in the yard is a hard surface to store the bales on.  

Bales are easy to use

Bales are easy to handle, transport and store. Of course, there are a number of recommendations when it comes to preventing damage and optimal storage. As soon as the livestock need to be fed: choose the desired bale and open it with a sharp knife or a special bale slicer. A film-bound bale is opened in no time without leaving any silage behind. 

The ideal way to store bales

Depending on the number of layers of film and the bale’s dry matter content, bales that have been bound and wrapped in film can be stored for a long period. However, the storage conditions must be suitable.  Limit the stack height to no more than three bales and prevent the influence of external factors. 

The bales should be stored on a flat, well drained and preferably hardened surface.  If the site is in the open air, ensure adequate drainage so that rainwater can run off. Rain is not the only threat, nearby streams or other watercourses also pose a potential threat due to the risk of flooding which can damage the bales. For this reason, it’s best to choose a site far enough away from these potential troublemakers.  

Extra protection against external factors

Once a suitable surface and site for storage have been chosen, you should take into account a number of external factors that may affect the bales. Ammonia from manure and spraying agents can damage the film. Ensure the bales are not exposed to these substances or minimise the exposure. Dairy farmers with a farm on a flight path should also take into account liquids released from planes that could come into contact with the bales. There are reported cases of farmers who were unpleasantly surprised by bale damage, resulting in unusable forage. The best solution is storage under a roof, but if this is impossible, ensure a cover is placed over the bales. 

Space between bales 

Preferably stack the bales on the flat side. The flat side of the bale is the strongest and will create a stable stack. Leaving some space between the bales is recommended for easier handling and logistics. This makes it easier for a bale clamp to lift the bales, for example.   

To sum it up, the ideal way to store bales: 

  1. use a solid, clean surface; 
  1. choose a site far enough away from watercourses;  
  1. avoid exposure to ammonia from manure or spraying agents; 
  1. place under a roof, or cover with a tarpaulin if necessary;   
  1. do not stack higher than three bales; 
  1. leave a small space between the bales to make handling and logistics easier.