Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/10/2011
Publication Date: 3/22/2011
Citation: Martinson, K., Sheaffer, C., Coblentz, W.K. 2011. MFRP Project: Plastic-Wrap Preserved Mature Orchardgrass Round-Baled Hay Up to 34% Moisture. Forage Focus. p: 20. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Effects of harvest moisture and bale wrapping on forage quality and mold formation in orchardgrass hay intended for equine feeding have not been investigated. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of initial bale moisture and plastic wrapping on temperature, forage quality, and mold formation in large round-baled orchardgrass hay. Forty 4 x 5-ft. round bales of mature orchardgrass hay were baled at three different moisture ranges, 12.4 to 16.6% (LM); 18.0 to 23.2% (IM); and 25.9 to 33.7% (HM). Selected bales within each moisture range were individually wrapped in plastic, and temperature sensors were placed in each bale for up to 10 weeks. The lowest maximum temperature and heating degree day accumulations were observed when initial bale moisture content was 12.4%, or when hay was wrapped, regardless of initial moisture content. Wrapped hays resulted in similar forage quality and mold counts compared to LM when initial bale moisture was 12.4%. Hay baled at 16.6% resulted in fiber components and mold counts similar to higher moisture bales. Mold counts for hay baled at 16.6 and 12.4% moisture were 24.8 x 106 and 2.7 x 104 cfu/g, respectively, demonstrating that large, round bales were prone to molding at relatively low moisture concentrations. Maintaining forage quality and reducing mold growth was achieved by baling dry hay (12.4% moisture) or wrapping round bales of orchardgrass hay up to 33.7% moisture.