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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #341404

Research Project: Improving Nutrient Use Efficiency and Mitigating Nutrient and Pathogen Losses from Dairy Production Systems

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: There's a downside to delayed wrapping

item Coblentz, Wayne
item Akins, Matthew - University Of Wisconsin

Submitted to: Hay and Forage Grower
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2017
Publication Date: 11/15/2017
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Akins, M.S. 2017. There's a downside to delayed wrapping. Hay and Forage Grower. p. 8-9 Hay and Forage Grower. November 2017. W.D. Hoard and Sons Co., Fort Atkinson, WI.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The concept of wrapping moist large-round or large-square bales in plastic to create an anaerobic environment for silage fermentation has gained steadily in popularity, particularly for small and mid-sized dairy or beef producers. Most management principles for baled silages are similar to those of traditional chopped silages; among these, the exclusion of oxygen is paramount. Producers frequently ask questions about the effects of delays in applying plastic wraps to silage bales that are induced by inclement weather, or by commercial bale wrappers who are delayed in arriving at the farm to wrap bales. This report attempts to identify these effects, and provide some guidelines for appropriate management. Currently, extension recommendations for an appropriate, but reasonable, time interval between baling and application of silage plastics can vary widely, and range from 2 to 48 hours. Based on the experiments discussed in this report, the effects of a 24-hour wrapping delay on silage fermentation characteristics and the quality of baled alfalfa silages were relatively minor. For example, there was a loss of only 0.4 percentage units of TDN (energy) with a 1-day wrapping delay compared to bales wrapped within 4 hours of formation. While producers should strive to apply plastic wraps as quickly as possible, a 24-hour marker may serve as a good ‘rule of thumb’ for management purposes that defines the outside limit or maximum acceptable delay. Longer delays will likely produce more discernable negative effects. It also should be emphasized that this 24-marker should not be applied blindly to other crops ensiled under different conditions for which there is no supporting research.