Producers can prevent dry matter losses of stored feeds with a little forethought and planning, reminds Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois emeritus Extension dairy nutritionist.

Using oxygen barrier products and covering bunkers and piles correctly “can reduce shrink in the total crop by as much as 4-5%. We know a good silage inoculant will reduce shrink. There’s 2-3% savings there. If we get good (packing) density, that also can help us in terms of preserving the crop, he says.

“When we drive down the country road and see these round bales standing out in the field, we just have to cringe because they’re obviously going to lose huge amounts of feed value.”

Hutjens estimates that a bale uncovered and on soil can draw moisture from the ground and become rain-damaged, losing a foot to 18” of its outer surface to spoilage. “That’s an awful lot of feed that we have harvested but are just going to throw away.”

At the very least, get bales off the ground and onto rocks or pallets; then cover them with tarps or other material that will shed water. And strategically place bales end to end and in rows separated from each other, all to keep water from pooling and spoiling the feedstuff.

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