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Wrapping Bales (pics)

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SRBeef

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Whether it's your first winter or your 50th in the cattle business, the economics are not good. Despite global warming we had a very long cold winter in WI last year. I ran out of hay at the tail end as did several others in the area. Good hay is available but expensive as the cost of fertilizer etc. to raise it has gone up.

Here is what all that expensive hay can look like when it is fed in WI in the winter:



I've had bales that had maybe 15-20" of rain on them from when they were purchased to freeze-up, then several snowstorms and freeze/thaw cycles (although sometimes it seems like just freeze cycles!). This picture is mostly for the folks down south. In the Dakotas, MN, Alberta, etc you probably don't need a picture.

I think the outer foot is somewhere around 30% of the hay in a 6 foot diameter hay bale. I found myself peeling off almost a ft all around due to mold etc. Hard to make money when you throw away 30% of an expensive raw material...

I have tried bale sleeves which never fit right and are not a one-man job. I tried tarps which don't last very long in 40 mph winds as we had yesterday. Tough to spend the money on a hay shed for a herd the size of mine. Long time to pay back the cost.

So I am trying another approach, wrapping the bales. I did a lot of them yesterday and today. It would have been better to do this closer to when the bales came out of the field but maybe next year.

I started with two wraps but found three or four of this one mil stretch plastic seems to work better.

This is a fairly simple 3-point mounted, hydraulic drive to spin machine. I saw this one at a farm show and bought it off the lot. Should have fairly quick payback and the cows will get better quality hay.

I am also looking to have a bit of a cushion in hay and keep at least a few bales around over the summer and into a second season if necessary. This should stretch the useful life of some good bales.

Here are two pictures of wrapping a bale from today. I finished the last one in a drizzle as it got dark.

This may not be for the ranch with 500 bales but for many of us smaller guys up north it may save a fair amount of money in hay. If this can produce the same results as the hay sleeves but be easier/faster I'll be very happy. The plastic is very different. We'll see.



 

kickinbull

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Looks simple enough. What is the brand? I can't tell from the pic, but does the wrap move forth and back on it's own or do you have to do it by hand? Is is possible once the plastic is off the use the wrapper to feed/unroll hay?
 

SRBeef

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kickinbull":3twip45a said:
Looks simple enough. What is the brand? I can't tell from the pic, but does the wrap move forth and back on it's own or do you have to do it by hand? Is is possible once the plastic is off the use the wrapper to feed/unroll hay?

It is simple. It is called a "Round-About" and made by Unverferth Mfg. in Ohio. It is a simple, relatively low cost system, you move the wrap back and forth by hand. Yes I am told it can also be used to unroll hay if you want to feed it like that. I don't feed like that but I can see how it would work to unroll large bales.

Jim
 

SRBeef

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dun":1kx4ibzf said:
shloh1981":1kx4ibzf said:
What about the ends of the bales?

S
Exactly my question

There are bale wrappers that will wrap the entire bale. They are usually used to make baleage (sileage) when bales are mowed raked rolled and wrapped without the drying period used for dry hay such as this.

Some folks also stack bales inside continuous plastic bags.

In both cases the machines are much, much, more complex and expensive. You have to use much more plastic on baleage to insure an airtight package. I don't want to make baleage, I just want to keep rain, snow, mold, etc out of my bales. Getting some plastic under the bale, between your hay and the dirt, works wonders on keeping mold down.

Having the ends open lets the bale breathe a bit. Although I usually put them in a line up and down hill and push them tight together.

What I am looking for is something which will keep dry hay in a condition like this when I feed it. These bales had sleeves with the ends open but bales pushed together:



Making baleage/sileage is a process that is just not for small scale folks that can't be there full time. Takes a lot of equipment.

If I can keep expensive hay in the condition shown on this picture from last winter I will be happy. These bales were covered with bale sleeves which worked as far as preservation but are not practical for me due to bale size variation and time to install. This wrapping goes very quickly once you get the system figured out.

We had a discussion here maybe a year ago on placing large bales - should there be a space between them or pushed tight. I find in my climate etc pushing tight generally keeps the ends in better condition.

However today I finished wrapping the last few bales in a light rain so I left space between these last bales so they can breathe. I'm not saying this wrapping is for everyone. It just looks like a way to reduce waste and retain quality of expensive hay.

Another thread here is discussing economics, costs etc. When times are tough I find we need to be especially careful with details - like reducing loss/deterioration of expensive, and in my case all purchased, winter hay. I am also looking at probably keeping maybe 20% of my expected annual hay needs in reserve. This wrapping should keep that hay in better shape longer. We'll see.

Jim

Edit: By the way, I was advised NOT to wrap the plastic over the edges since this would form a pocket for water to sit if any did get in - mold follows as most are aware.
 

dun

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With our net wrapped baleag the majority of the spoilage is on the ends where the are pushed togehter. Rain and snow melt gets between the bales and just soaks in.
 

SRBeef

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dun":27ggujvv said:
With our net wrapped baleag the majority of the spoilage is on the ends where the are pushed togehter. Rain and snow melt gets between the bales and just soaks in.

As I recall, in the bale storage thread a year ago or so the jury was split on that one too.

About half of the folks in that thread said to push round dry hay bales tight, the other half said to make sure there is space between the ends! I've had good luck storing them as my hay supplier does - a line up and down hill and pushed together. My problem is moisture in the top and rot/mold on the bottom from moisture picked up from the soil. wrapping around the outside, like sleeves, seems like it solves both problems.

Around here "baleage" is green silage and has to be wrapped completely with a sheet plastic. It's used a lot on oat hay which just doesn't dry down very well so it is wrapped green.

This should probably be over on the grass/hay board but I thought it fit in with the economics of winter feeding being discussed here.

Jim
 

ToddFarmsInc

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That's a pretty neat setup. If I had some really special bales, I would probably consider doing that. (they would have to be pretty dang special) I currently have about 700 round bales stored for this winter. I'm afraid it would take me some time to wrap all those puppies.

But then again, we don't have quite as extreme wether here as way up north. I store all my hay on a slope, so the water naturally drains down hill away from the hay, and I but mine together tight in rows, and the ends stay in really good shape. I also only store the hay one tier high, unless under a roof then I will stack them on top of each other. The problem I have encountered with stacking bales up two or three tiers high is the rain runs around the outside of the bale and follows the slope inbetween the bales and I have suffered a lot of spoilage that way. (lesson learned after that year)

The way I store my hay, I suppose that only about the outside 4 inches or so goes to waste and even then, the cows will nose through that hay and eat some of it.

And when the wether gets really bad, I have a nice large barn my grandpa built that the whole herd (about 100 head) can walk under and eat square bales out of a manger.

That is a pretty neat bale wrapper though.
 

marksmu

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This could be a dumb question since I am along the coast in Texas, but why not just build a pole barn? It seems like you would save yourself money in the long run....Im talking about a cheap uninsulated pole barn? I seem them advertised here all the time for a 30'x110'x16' for $6,999.00...that wrap is going to add up over the years, and that pole barn can have a multitude of uses other than just hay.

There may be something Im not thinking about, buy why wrap, when you can store out of the elements?
 

SRBeef

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marksmu":9rff9l7n said:
This could be a dumb question since I am along the coast in Texas, but why not just build a pole barn? It seems like you would save yourself money in the long run....Im talking about a cheap uninsulated pole barn? I seem them advertised here all the time for a 30'x110'x16' for $6,999.00...that wrap is going to add up over the years, and that pole barn can have a multitude of uses other than just hay.

There may be something Im not thinking about, buy why wrap, when you can store out of the elements?

That's a good question I have wrestled with. For one thing, I don't think there is any way that I can get a 30x110x16 finished hay shed with gravel on the floor for anywhere near 7,000 here. If I build anything it will be a 3-sided shed for machinery storage which is needed at the same time. Maybe down the road a bit.

As far as plastic, I did about 70 bales yesterday afternoon and it looks like the plastic cost will be about $2 per bale which is not bad to preserve maybe $25 (1/3 of a $75 bale) of hay which has been wasted or poor quality. The profit is in the details.

Next year I'll use the wrapper to remove them from the hay trailer and wrap them as they are received.

Thanks for the suggestion. Gets me thinking.

Jim

Todd - I've found the same as you on storage - in a line up and down a slope butted together. Our damper climate and winters may be harder on hay than KS.
 

bigbull338

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wrapping hay is a great idea.but cutting that plastic will be a booger in winter.ive got a friend that milks 300 cows.an he puts up about 2000 bales of baleage more or less every year.
 

Jogeephus

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SRBeef, just wondering, does anyone put up baleage up your way? If so, was wondering how the cold affected it with all the moisture in the bale. Here, they will be steaming when you open them on a cold morning but our cold is nothing like what ya'll have.
 

SRBeef

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Jogeephus":2i4scoth said:
SRBeef, just wondering, does anyone put up baleage up your way? If so, was wondering how the cold affected it with all the moisture in the bale. Here, they will be steaming when you open them on a cold morning but our cold is nothing like what ya'll have.

Jo, There is lots of wrapped baleage put up in WI. I have some neighbors that do it but I don't know anything about it. Must work. When I was scouting around for some hay this past spring, one fellow was selling some oat baleage at a hay auction. He cut one open on a sub freezing day. Smelled good, different color to it, not sure of protein etc, not something I wanted to experiment with at that point.

By the way, here is a picture of some of the bales I wrapped yesterday. The last five on the left end were wrapped in the drizzle so I left room between them, the others wrapped before the rain started I pushed together as I usually do.

Funny how the bales have distorted (not round) even in the 1-1/2 months of mostly dry weather since I bought them.

Here the picture:



Went pretty fast once I got a system going. Next year they will be wrapped as unloaded from the trailer.

Jim
 

SRBeef

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bigbull338":jtochhxr said:
wrapping hay is a great idea.but cutting that plastic will be a booger in winter.ive got a friend that milks 300 cows.an he puts up about 2000 bales of baleage more or less every year.

Actually I have found that cutting the plastic sleeves off is a lot easier than removing frozen netwrap.

If it has a lot of ice and snow on it I just drop the bale once or twice and everything comes off - then cut through the plastic AND the netwrap which is not frozen into the bale as it is when used alone.

You DO remove the netwrap on dry hay bales don't you???

Maybe baleage is different, I don't have any experience with fully wrapped baleage.

Jim
 

novaman

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If you plan to wrap bales with plastic, would you be better off finding hay wrapped with twine rather than net? The reason I bring this up is twine is cheaper than net so you may be able to buy the hay for less. However, it could be more of a pain to cut off all the twine? Just something that hit me when I was looking at your pictures. As someone else mentioned, you would likely come out better by building a shed for the bales. I don't know how many bales you typically have for a year's supply but it wouldn't take an overly large building to house the 70 bales you mentioned earlier.
 

SRBeef

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novaman":xt80od24 said:
If you plan to wrap bales with plastic, would you be better off finding hay wrapped with twine rather than net? The reason I bring this up is twine is cheaper than net so you may be able to buy the hay for less. However, it could be more of a pain to cut off all the twine? Just something that hit me when I was looking at your pictures. As someone else mentioned, you would likely come out better by building a shed for the bales. I don't know how many bales you typically have for a year's supply but it wouldn't take an overly large building to house the 70 bales you mentioned earlier.

Yes, I would prefer twine but it doesn't really matter too much - just don't like that much plastic to dispose of. However most folks baling hay prefer the speed of a netwrap baler so I buy the best hay I can find for the price regardless of twine or netwrap. The netwrap actually comes off easily under the sleeves and I assume this wrap. The wrap is only 1 mil thick per layer.

I have found using a hook-type blade in a regular retractable blade knife works well. I think it is called a linoleum/flooring cutter blade.

As far as the shed goes, just can't afford to put one up. And the return on the investment would take much longer, if ever, on a building for my small size operation. At about $2 per bale of plastic wrap on up to a max of about 100 bales and amortization of this simple wrapper I have under $500. a year in hay storage costs, probably closer to $400 depending on what you use for the life of the wrapping machine. I want to turn a profit in my beef operation as soon as possible. I can't do it building hay storage buildings if a lower cost alternative exists like wrapping.

I'm trying lots of different things, such as grazing standing corn, to keep my hay consumption down since I buy all of my winter's hay. Thanks for the suggestions.

Jim
 

m&kCattle

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Neighbor has the same wrapper, worked good for a lot of years. He always held the plastic over the ends of the bale to cover around 20% of each end, then butt them together. He had very little hay loss that way. ( as opposed to pic where the ends are open )

We use a turn table wrapper, it is a lot quicker but we wrap the majority of our hay. Good thing is not having to let the hay dry down. We mow, bale, and wrap sameday. As for winter, we use a utility knife to cut the plastic off, comes right off bale. Feed in a rack. I really love this method of making hay for our area. Toughest part is finding someone to take the plastic.
 
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