February 21, 2001 | By: Haven Miller
HARDINSBURG, KY

Whether you call it "balage" or "haylage," baled silage is offering good results for some of Kentucky's cattle producers.

Sam Galloway, Breckinridge County producer, runs about 350 head on his farm. He said he bought a wrapping machine in 1998 and it's more than paid for itself.

"It's a lot cheaper than starting up the silo. I think we put this baled silage up for around $ 6 a ton, so it's more economical," he said.

Steven Hinton, also of Breckinridge County, is successfully feeding baled silage produced from a timothy/orchard grass mix to his cattle.

"The cattle will eat every bit of the baled silage, there's none wasted," said Hinton. "I think the ensiling made the hay better than what it would have been otherwise."

To produce the baled silage, Hinton rented a single-bale wrapping machine through a program supported by the local UK Cooperative Extension Service and a Kentucky Department of Agriculture value added grant that is used to apply plastic film. He said despite a few instances of mold on the baled hay, he's been impressed enough to plan on feeding quite a bit more of it.

"I may try to get through 50 percent of next year feeding it to my cattle," he said. "Even without the Extension Service program, I'd still probably try to rent a wrapper on my own, or possibly even buy one."

Drawbacks of haylage include availability of plastic in certain counties, cost of buying a wrapper when renting isn't an option, and a few instances of mold. According to Galloway, mold problems can be reduced by making sure holes bigger than a quarter found in the plastic after wrapping are patched. UV-treated repair tape should be used to patch holes to insure continued exclusion of oxygen.

For some farmers haylage offers an efficient way to utilize their forage crop.

"It's helped them in the winter, and also in the spring when they couldn't get their hay up in the right condition," said Rickey Miller, small farms assistant for Kentucky State University.

"It's improved cattle health," said Carol Hinton, UK Cooperative Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources. "We used to have a lot of cattle perform poorly and sometimes die after being fed a lot of low-quality hay, but with the higher quality of forage stored as baled silage we've had a lot fewer problems."

Contact: 

Carol Hinton, 270-756-2182