baleage for winter?

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boondocks
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baleage for winter?

Postby boondocks » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:24 am

Soooo...some of you may remember we baled our own hay this year, for the first time. Weeeeelll, let's just say that between the cranky weather and cranky equipment, it's been interesting.
Net result at the moment is that we have more than enough wrapped rounds of baleage, but far less small hay squares than usual. For reasons having to do with, well, a lot of other reasons, we like to have have the flexibility to either throw a few squares or get the tractor out a couple times a week and give baleage. So, they usually get a fairly even mix, plus protein tubs and loose minerals.
What will they be low on if we feed them nearly all baleage winter, and very little squares? (Keep in mind upstate New York=6 mos winter). Can they get by or do they need more stemmy stuff? Plan to ask vet too and maybe test the stuff, but figured you all will either allay my concerns or tell me I'm gonna kill them. :)
I'm also gonna ask around and see if anyone wants to do some trading (would give them a good discount) but I think most folks are in the same boat. (Dry July-Aug so little growth, then rainy every second or third day since).
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby bball » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:50 am

They will need roughage to compensate for what the baleage is lacking. Coarse, sub par hay or cornstalk bales work well for this. Even heard of guys putting out some straw bales for them to gnaw on to get the roughage they need.
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby sstterry » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:37 am

bball wrote:They will need roughage to compensate for what the baleage is lacking. Coarse, sub par hay or cornstalk bales work well for this. Even heard of guys putting out some straw bales for them to gnaw on to get the roughage they need.

Just curious here, if they live on grass during the summer, what is the difference when they have baleage which is essentially fermented grass. Why the additional roughage in the winter? Around here, I have never seen baleage being stored.
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby bball » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:10 am

sstterry wrote:
bball wrote:They will need roughage to compensate for what the baleage is lacking. Coarse, sub par hay or cornstalk bales work well for this. Even heard of guys putting out some straw bales for them to gnaw on to get the roughage they need.

Just curious here, if they live on grass during the summer, what is the difference when they have baleage which is essentially fermented grass. Why the additional roughage in the winter? Around here, I have never seen baleage being stored.


On a DM basis, it can take substantially more volume of baleage to equate to hay, or even summer grass. Think of baleage as partailly digested grass, so it's already started the "breakdown" process that occurs in the rumen; as a consequence of fermentation. The DM just isn't there due to being baled/wrapped at 40-60% moisture and the fermentation process that continues to break things down. The old timers here worry about cows gorging on the tasty stuff and getting 'plugged' up because there just wasn't enough DM to keep the rumen processing along. I have never seen it firsthand. Easing into it slowly is advisable. Texasbred would be able to provide an in depth explanation I suspect, or correct any of this that is not accurate information.
I have fed baleage many winters with no problems, but I do keep out dry hay or corn stalk bales with it. They will flat devour baleage in short order.
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby sstterry » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:21 am

bball wrote:
sstterry wrote:
bball wrote:They will need roughage to compensate for what the baleage is lacking. Coarse, sub par hay or cornstalk bales work well for this. Even heard of guys putting out some straw bales for them to gnaw on to get the roughage they need.

Just curious here, if they live on grass during the summer, what is the difference when they have baleage which is essentially fermented grass. Why the additional roughage in the winter? Around here, I have never seen baleage being stored.


On a DM basis, it can take substantially more volume of baleage to equate to hay, or even summer grass. Think of baleage as partailly digested grass, so it's already started the "breakdown" process that occurs in the rumen; as a consequence of fermentation. The DM just isn't there due to being baled/wrapped at 40-60% moisture and the fermentation process that continues to break things down. The old timers here worry about cows gorging on the tasty stuff and getting 'plugged' up because there just wasn't enough DM to keep the rumen processing along. I have never seen it firsthand. Easing into it slowly is advisable. Texasbred would be able to provide an in depth explanation I suspect, or correct any of this that is not accurate information.
I have fed baleage many winters with no problems, but I do keep out dry hay or corn stalk bales with it. They will flat devour baleage in short order.

Thank you. That is the explanation I was looking for. I have a friend in GA that feeds it and he swears by it. It is strange that in our part of the country no one puts it up.
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby sassafras manor » Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:30 am

In our experience with baleage we found if fed as the primary source prior to calving the cows got overconditioned and we had to pull an unacceptable amount of calves. After that lesson we fed it only after the cows calved and even then it was mostly to first calf heifers.
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby chevytaHOE5674 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:19 am

I make 100% baleage (around 1000 4x5's) for a customer of mine and that's all he feeds all winter long. He's been doing so for about the last 15 years and he's had no trouble.
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby sassafras manor » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:16 am

chevytaHOE5674 wrote:I make 100% baleage (around 1000 4x5's) for a customer of mine and that's all he feeds all winter long. He's been doing so for about the last 15 years and he's had no trouble.

My neighbor and I both calve in late February to early March and both fed the baleage from the onset of winter with the same results. The cows ate it like it was candy and were FAT. Glad to hear your customer has had good results.
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:20 am

People like to blame calving problems on anything other than poor management.
I have had 100% baleage for my cows for over 30 years. I calve 1-1 to 3-1, in Upstate NY, (so 6 months of hay). My cows get baleage from the last day they have grass available until they have grass in the spring. Most of it is 1st cut in June.
Baleage is the same as dry hay, just still has moisture. Same long stem (or short if you have cutters).
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby boondocks » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:45 pm

Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:People like to blame calving problems on anything other than poor management.
I have had 100% baleage for my cows for over 30 years. I calve 1-1 to 3-1, in Upstate NY, (so 6 months of hay). My cows get baleage from the last day they have grass available until they have grass in the spring. Most of it is 1st cut in June.
Baleage is the same as dry hay, just still has moisture. Same long stem (or short if you have cutters).


Thanks Jeanne! Helpful to have a local perspective too. Our vet confirmed what you're saying too. I think we will still try to get a few more small squares cut if it ever stops raining every other day. We like to be able to toss them a few squares to tide them over sometimes, or to lure them into the corral. Also have a low spot that the tractor almost can't get thru if we get prolonged mud season or a Feb thaw.
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby Supa Dexta » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:00 am

All baleage here after the new year. Hay is for horses and old guys that have time to mess with it.
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby Stocker Steve » Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:01 am

Many talk about hay quality, and some even test hay, but you seldom hear about rate of passage through the rumen and how it effects nutrient intake. Fast movers (like beet pulp byproduct) shoot thru and are not well utilized unless they are only a small part of the ration. Slow movers (like mature meadow hay) do not provide enough nutrients in many cases unless you supplement some bypass protein. You may save feed $$$ overall by testing and then providing a supplement.

I suspect balage quality and fiber content varies almost as much as hay. Have you tested it yet?
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby boondocks » Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:08 pm

Stocker Steve wrote:Many talk about hay quality, and some even test hay, but you seldom hear about rate of passage through the rumen and how it effects nutrient intake. Fast movers (like beet pulp byproduct) shoot thru and are not well utilized unless they are only a small part of the ration. Slow movers (like mature meadow hay) do not provide enough nutrients in many cases unless you supplement some bypass protein. You may save feed $$$ overall by testing and then providing a supplement.

I suspect balage quality and fiber content varies almost as much as hay. Have you tested it yet?


Hi Steve,
We have not tested it. I know we should....
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:33 pm

When did you put it up? and what is it? Native grass?
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Re: baleage for winter?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:37 pm

My mid June baleage is usually 16% protein. Last analysis (not last year's - July awkkk)
Moisture - 74%
Crude P - 16.6
Avail P - 14.8
ADF - 37.9
NDF - 51.6
TDN - 59

Not sure what all numbers mean. That was hubby's expertise. This represents mostly grass hay with little clover.
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