Livestock producers still rounding up round bales for the upcoming winter feeding season can reduce storage losses that can occur after hay is stacked. Just follow these steps, says Doo-Hong Min, crops and soils specialist with Kansas State University Extension:
- Select a good storage site. The site should not be shaded and have good air circulation to enhance drying conditions. It also should be well-drained to reduce moisture absorption into the bottom side of the round bales. “A well-drained, 4-6”, coarse rock base would help minimize bottom spoilage of a large round bale.”
- Keep the bales off the ground. Ground contact can account for more than half of the total dry matter loss, Min notes. Putting bales on racks, fence posts, discarded pallets, railroad ties, used tires or crushed rock will promote good drainage.
- Cover bales. Round bales stored outside and covered with either plastic or canvas generally experience much less deterioration than unprotected bales, he says. If the bales are not covered with plastic or net wrap, consider reusable tarps.
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