Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/12/2004
Publication Date: 6/16/2004
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2004. Harvesting and storage systems for hay and haylage. American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings. 13. CDROM. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required. akm.
Technical Abstract: Many mechanical, chemical, and biological processes are promoted to help in the harvest and preservation of high quality forage. Knowing what to use, and what to avoid, is a complex decision, and that decision does not universally apply to all producers. Dry matter loss and nutritive changes occur with each harvest and storage process. Although some loss is inevitable, good management can reduce or compensate for these losses to provide the quality forage needed. The benefits received must be weighed against the added costs to determine the best procedures for a given farm. Experience has shown that rapid field curing is important and a good mechanical conditioner can help speed drying. Hay should be spread in wide swaths to further speed drying, but very thin swaths must be avoided to reduce raking loss. Tedding may be useful in drying grass crops, but it should be avoided with alfalfa, particularly after the crop has partially dried. Hay should be baled at about 18% moisture in low-density bales, but a lower moisture content is needed for high-density large bales. Routine baling of high moisture hay should be avoided. When moist hay is baled, use an organic acid based treatment to help preserve hay. Good silo management (rapid filling, good packing and a tight cover) is required to maintain ensiled forage quality. When using silage bags or bale silage, check for punctures periodically to assure that a tight seal is maintained.