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Baleage Perfect Complement for Pasture-Based Production
Use it to balance the quality of your pasture.
Baleage -- forage wrapped in large round bales and allowed to ferment --
makes an excellent, low-cost stored feed system, especially for pasture-based
producers. So says Tim Fritz, a Penn State University Extension grazing
specialist in Montgomery County, Pa., in a recent discussion (summer '96) on the
graze-l internet discussion group.
Fritz and other cyberspace
graziers offers these tips:
grazing. Unlike filling silos or bunkers, you can harvest baleage in small
bites. "When you have surplus pasture in spring, limit the amount you
harvest each day as baleage so that when you bring these paddocks back into the
pasture rotation, their regrowth is staggered," says Fritz. Dry matter
should be 40 to 50 percent when baled.
the weather. Wingham, Ont., grazier Brian Jeffray likes the low weather
risk of making baleage, "especially when we can cut one day and bale the
next," he says. "It seems that lots of times when we want to hay here
in Ontario that is as long as you get between showers."
and match bales. At harvest, label bales so that when you feed it out
later, you know what's inside -- forage species, maturity, etc. Then you can
match the bale you feed to complement the quality of the pasture your cows are
grazing. Crack open the overmature grass baleage when pastures are rich, and
save the top-shelf baleage for when they are thin. Baleage is long-stemmed and
will help slow down the passage of feed, Fritz points out.
"The big negative of baleage is plastic disposal," Fritz adds. "The
other is variability. But you can turn that into a positive by matching the
baleage to the pasture."
"It is pretty tough for the
average farm in Wisconsin to justify the cost of a good baler and wrapper set
up," observes Tom Cadwallader, University of Wisconsin Extension Livestock
Agent based in Merrill, Wis. "They really do lend themselves well to the
©1997 Committee for
Sustainable Farm Publishing
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