Bale shapes and sizes
The best moisture level for baling hay or green feed depends on the type of baler you use. If you have a large hard-core round baler, 15% moisture is optimum. At this moisture level, the bales will keep for an extended period.
Table 1. Bale size to moisture contents
|Bale Shape||Height (ft)||Width (ft)||Length (ft)||Volume (ft3)||Typical weight (lb)||Safe baling moisture (%)|
Higher moisture levels
When moisture levels are higher than those shown in the table above, there will be:
- excessive heating in the bales
- mould growth
- loss of large amounts of dry matter
Moulds consume nutrients and generate heat as they grow. If the hay reaches 55 degrees C or higher, severe browning reactions begin.
Amino acids and sugars combine to form insoluble nitrogen compounds that are unavailable to animals. These reactions increase the amount of insoluble fibre. This leads to a lower digestibility or total digestible nutrients.
These reactions may also lead to spontaneous combustion.
Mould organisms under heat stress may produce toxins. These can be harmful to livestock and may reduce intake. Moulds also produce spores that, if inhaled, can cause lung disease or exacerbate existing respiratory problems.
Heating in bales occurs to some extent unless the feed contains less than 15% moisture.
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