When is the grass ready for baleage and hay

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2 years 7 months ago #556419 by Dr Spock
Hi all. How do you know when the grass is ready for making baleage and when it is ready to make hay and when it is too late for either? I know whenever the time is right for either, I'll still be at the mercy of the contractors and weather.

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2 years 7 months ago #556421 by LongRidge
Hay and balage is most nutritious when fewer than 10 % of the grass has seeded. If it is being used for pregnant animals then you want it to be most nutritious, because the gut is able to hold less quantity when there is a baby taking up space. Cattle can handle much older and longer grass in their hay and balage than sheep can, so if your cattle are not pregnant you can go for longer grass so more quantity rather than quality.
Cattle are much less fussy about the quality. When I am feeding both sheep and cattle, I have them in adjoining paddocks so the sheep get the picking of the hay. Then swap the animals so the sheep get the paddock that the cows had, and the cows eat the hay that the sheep refused.

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2 years 7 months ago #556425 by Stikkibeek
The secret of really good hay is to have some seed set on the important grasses like rye and clover, but not so far gone it is changing to dry seed, otherwise you will be cutting mainly stalk. The other important thing to look out for, is that there is still a lot of green blades of grasses, as you need bulk too. If you have a heavy crop, when it's ready you will see some patches that are beginning to fall over. This is not a real concern as a good contractor will have a mower that will go underneath the grass. Of course if it has fallen well over, you may find patches that are chopped with some left behind. Turning, the hay (Tedding) is all determined by the contractor, as too is the windrowing prior to baling. If the hay is ready to bale, it should have a good "Nose" in other words, smell sweet and fresh. Then it's up to your team to stack it appropriately and let it "air" as it settles in the barn We keep our doors open during the first night and for about a week afterwards. Freshly baled hay will heat up quite a bit and heat+dampness will promote mould if not looked after. We feed out at the rate of 5 cattle to the bale and increase the bales if the winter is particularly hard.
For baleage, that is quite different. It could be cut, baled windrowed and baled the next day while still green. leaf content is therefore better for silage. The contractor should "innoculate" it, bale and wrap it within 24-36 hours + a little if heavy, The hard work for you then, is feeding it out as it's very heavy and needs equipment to handle it. If you don't have equipment, then choose a contractor who will put it in 2 or 4 packs (Standard bales wrapped together) so you can feed out in accordance with the number of stock you have. Packs are not too hard to keep from going mouldy if you can tuck in the wrapping plastic to keep the air out between feeds.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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2 years 7 months ago #556481 by Organix
Also based on our experience we opt for large round wrapped baleage to minimise the amount of plastic used, and we have to dispose of. The contractor places the bales far enough apart to unwrap them by hand as we feed out to our beefies with a wheelbarrow. We open the bale to enable us to unroll the silage and feed out a barrow load twice a day to our 4 or 5 cattle and a full barrow each feeding has a bale lasting about 2 weeks by which time the remnants are getting a bit past their best, but hungry beefies aren't too fussy when that's all there is on offer.

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2 years 7 months ago #556492 by jeannielea
That's exactly what we did for year too!

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