“I call it shed-wrap because it’s basically an individual hay shed for every round bale.”

Darron Schoen is describing B-Wrap, a new bale wrap he tested on his Monett, MO, dairy farm the past three growing seasons. Surface layers of B-Wrap bales stay as green as if stored indoors, and the protection lasts longer than with net-wrap, he says.

John Deere developed B-Wrap with Israel-based Tama Plastic Industry and Ambraco, its U.S. distributor. The wrap was recently introduced for the 2013 haying season.

“B-Wrap is rolled onto round bales just like regular net-wrap,” says Laura Cobb, senior marketing representative for the John Deere Ottumwa Works. “But B-Wrap protects hay much better than net-wrap, significantly reducing storage losses and maintaining nutrient quality of hay.”

The material features Tama SCM Technology, which Cobb says looks like solid plastic but has microscopic holes that let bales sweat. It works on John Deere 7, 8 and most 9 Series round balers equipped for applying net-wrap. Deere dealers will install conversion kits that allow balers to be switched between net-wrap and B-Wrap.

Visually, Schoen says, net-wrap protects most types of hay very well, with just the outer 2-3” of bales turning brown. In coarse grasses that tend to wick moisture, the dark layer may be 3-4” thick. With B-Wrap, there’s no discoloration and the entire bale is more palatable, the producer says.

“Apparently, there’s something we can’t see or smell, but the cattle like B-Wrap bales better.”

Another “huge advantage,” according to Schoen: The bales are easier to feed in winter.

“Plastic twine and net-wrap both have been a battle to get off whenever you have ice and snow. With B-Wrap you basically just take a knife and cut it and it falls off.”

He plans to use it on coarse grasses such as sudangrass and any hay that will be stored long term.

“If we ever get out of this drought pattern where we would have carryover hay again, I would definitely B-Wrap anything that I was planning on storing for more than a year,” he says.

Not knowing how much bedding his cattle will need this winter, he used it on all the straw he baled in 2012. Net-wrapped straw bales start to deteriorate after a year, but he expects B-Wrap bales to last two or three years.

B-Wrap loses much of its advantage if bales are stored under trees instead of in direct sunlight, he warns, adding that it’s best to store net-wrap bales in direct sunlight, too. But he sees cost as the main disadvantage. While rolls of B-Wrap are priced about the same as net-wrap, they cover fewer bales.

“But if you figure out how much hay you’re saving, especially those hays that don’t store as well in net-wrap, I figure it’s a pretty cheap investment.”

A 5’-wide roll of B-Wrap will cover 35 bales compared to about 200 bales for a net-wrap roll, says Cobb. She puts the B-Wrap cost at around $7/bale vs. roughly $2/bale for net-wrap. The standard B-Wrap kit has a list price of $399.