| ||At what moisture level is hay or greenfeed dry and ready to bale?
The appropriate moisture level will depend 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 of time. See the chart below for other bale size- moisture contents.
Typical weight, lb
Safe baling moisture, %
|*The lower moisture range is preferred in areas of low humidity; the higher moisture % for other areas |
Source: Adapted from an article presented at the Alfalfa Intensive Training Seminar, National Alfalfa Alliance, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 2-4, 2004, Dr. Mike Collins, University of Kentucky
What will happen if I bale my feed at higher moisture levels?
When moisture levels are higher than those shown in the above chart, the bales will lose large amounts of dry matter caused by excessive heating and mould growth. Moulds will consume nutrients and as they grow they generate heat. If the hay reaches 55º C or higher, severe browning reactions begin. Amino acids and sugars combine to form insoluble nitrogen compounds that are unavailable to animals. These reactions are undesirable because they increase the amount of insoluble fibre that leads to a lower digestibility or TDN. In addition, these reactions may lead to spontaneous combustion (for more information see the ‘Heated Bales: Management and Handling’ FAQ).
Mould organisms under heat stress may produce toxins, these toxins can be harmful to livestock and may reduce intake. As well, moulds produce spores that if inhaled can cause lung disease or exacerbate existing respiratory problems.
Do all bales heat?
Heating in bales will occur to some extent unless the forage contains less than 15% moisture.
For more information:
Moisture Content of Hay When Baling
What is the right moisture level to make hay
Or contact the Alberta Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276)
Prepared by Juanita Kopp, Alberta Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development