Wrapping hay in plastic is an option worth considering when rainy weather threatens to interfere with a quality harvest, says Bruce Anderson, forage specialist with University of Nebraska Extension.

Studies have shown excellent success wrapping bales containing 25-40% moisture, he notes. “After a full year in storage, the hay came out of the wrapping in great shape, with very little storage loss, a nice silage odor and well-preserved nutrients.”

Wrapping tough hay reduces weather risk because it often occurs a day sooner than normal baling. “Both yield and forage quality can be higher because fewer leaves are lost than with dry hay.”

The downside of wrapping is that it can take a lot of plastic to do the job right. “Six or seven layers are needed to maintain feed quality. If you don’t use enough plastic or fail to repair any holes, this kind of hay can spoil very fast.

“Wrapping slightly tough hay in plastic can improve your forage quality and reduce weather losses. If rain damage often plagues your haymaking, it might be worth looking into,” Anderson says.