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Control hay heating by wrapping lower moisture bales

Farmers attempting to bale dry hay while fighting weather that is too wet and/or too cool for drying to 15% to 17% moisture may have another option.

Alfalfa Checkoff-funded research found that wrapping relatively dry mixed-forage round bales with plastic film cuts off the crop’s oxygen supply, stops respiration, and preserves the forage as minimally fermented baled hay. “The large hay packages commonly used today are particularly prone to spontaneous heating, resulting in dry matter losses, poorer nutritive value, and, in extreme cases, spontaneous combustion,” said former USDA-ARS research dairy scientist Wayne Coblentz.

“It was striking the heating control we got in those bales with the elimination of respiration by simply restricting air access with plastic,” he added. Coblentz, recently retired as research leader at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center based at Marshfield, Wis., conducted the experiment with Matt Akins, who now holds that position, and Burney Kieke, a biostatistician with the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.

Wayne Coblentz

March 31, 2023



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