Commercial hay growers Tom and Ken Bailey, Ephraim, UT, have developed a custom-cut and blended bale that's extremely TMR-friendly.

The BaileyBale is a 1,350-lb, 4 × 2½ × 5' compact product that would make most dairy nutritionists smile. The machine the Baileys use to make their bale, called the 650 KG baler, was developed for their operation.

“The bale goes through a slicer,” explains Tom Bailey. “It slices the hay into different stem lengths — you can adjust its fiber length by the number of blades put in. We have the ability to vary from a 2" stem length all the way up to a non-sliced stem.”

More than that, the machine can blend together different hay products — such as alfalfa with timothy or oat hay — for dairymen. “They can call in and say, ‘We want a 50% alfalfa, 50% oat-hay mix, cut to 4-6" in stem length.’ Or they can ask for a feed that has 18-20% protein content, TDN levels ranging from 50-60% and relative feed values between 150 and 210,” Bailey adds.

Blended hay can save producers money, too, he maintains. “It offers the advantage of a complete package at an economic price.”

One of the bale's main selling points, Bailey says, is that it's pre-processed, ready to be used in a TMR mixer. The custom bale offers one more feature: it's compact. “You take a bale that's normally 1,700-1,800 lbs in a 4 × 4 × 8' package. We'll reduce that in size by 35-40% physically,” Bailey says.

That means the compressed bale is easier to load and ship, making freight more cost-effective. And that's a plus for the Baileys. They export BaileyBales as well as cubed alfalfa and 14 × 14 × 22" bales to countries including Japan, Taiwan, Korea, parts of Europe and Saudi Arabia.

The Bailey brothers grow alfalfa on 1,500 irrigated acres in a state envied for its arid climate. They also buy from growers throughout Utah and ship domestically to Florida, Texas, the East and the Midwest. However, they export over 90% of their volume.

At this point, they're hoping the BaileyBale will catch on with dairymen domestically and have been busy developing that market over the last year and a half. “The merits and value of the bale are very easily accepted by dairymen,” says Bailey. “Our focus with the bale is to create a more efficient operation for the end user, requiring less labor and less equipment to handle and process it And quality is our big thing; we can produce top-quality feed products according to buyers' specifications.”

Bailey thinks their blended bale is unique. It and the smaller bale have both been enthusiastically received at dairies and feedlots in other countries.

“Our business is growing. Where we were doing 15,000-20,000 tons a few years ago, at the rate we're going now, we'll do 70,000 tons of hay through the 2005 crop season.”