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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Planning and thinking stages at this point only.

Have to make a change in putting up hay in the next few years. Father aging, son growing up and probably leaving, and the &%^$# &&@#@#$ weather! Currently we dry bale all of our hay for feed and sale. I'm weighing out what to do for way less manpower available and not be so dang fussy about the weather. Switch to chopping the vast majority? Then pile it, bag it, or build a silo? Long term and short term cost / benefit? Or get a baler and bale and wrap balage?

I'm thinking the balage deal might be alright, but I would still have to have dry bales for in the barn, because there is no good way to move heavy product around in there. Chopped at least I can cart it around?

I'm talking for the feeding of beef cows/calves/ and finishing. Do they need dry forage and how do you adjust to this?
 

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Hey Tbone, been a while, trust things are good. Shoot me an email, my old computer crashed and be dammed if I can find your addy, been meaning to say hi for a while;)

From what I know of your operation, I would suggest bales in either the tubes or individually wrapped. Chopping as you already know is labor and machine intensive. I haven't actually ever done high moisture bales but do know several who have and they are quite happy with it. I forget how you store the silage you already put up, but in my experience the bigger the volume with the least surface area is the best storage method...for me that is a pit, but then its big enough that feeding 200 head daily from it, it takes three days to completely renew the face to keep ahead of spoilage...and that is in my cooler climate during winter. By late April it can rot faster than you can feed it depending on temperature. You are much warmer and wetter, so I suspect it would be worse. My experience with piles has not been good, way more spoilage than a pit as you can't pack it as good, you get a thin layer towards the edge of pile that spoils and freezes, and the bagged silage likes to freeze and if the bags leak, lots of spoilage. And there is the mess of the dam plastic too. Not so bad when dealing with bales IMO.

If I was to do silage on a small scale, it would be bales in tubes. I am seriously thinking of trying some bales in an old pit just for the helll of it to see how they would be to feed that way, but I'm a bit concerned about getting all the air out and the time it would take to keep exposed feed fresh.

As for roughage along with silage, mine eat it on their own free choice. But yes they need it so their stomachs work right. I use mostly slough hay and straw. All they want. If you need to stretch silage out, then you can add chopped straw or such directly with the silage to increase the amount of roughage intake, but then to maintain feed quality you need to increase grain into mixture as well.

Just some quick thoughts from my experience;)
 

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I think baleage may be the least labor intensive and can be made with these unpredictable Michigan summers. Many different balers out there to make silage bales with, but need to watch the rollers and bearings to make sure the stems aren't getting wrapped around and cause fire. Bagging can work too, but can get spendy with renting the bagger and buying the bag. Advantage of a bag is you can feed only what you need and don't have worry about maintaining a clean face. I've made a bag outside the barn and forked feed into a wheel barrow and fed, and never dealt with much spoilage, except when vandals sliced the bag open.
 

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we milk 300 cows in Saskatchewan, and feed dry cows and heifers as well, so here's my 2 cents...

if it is a one man show, period, then baleage would be my strongest consideration. One guy could cut one aft, bale the next, haul and wrap the next, etc... Is a mixer involved in feedout? Or just handling bales themselves? A Mixer can introduce more flexibility in adding straw, grain, finshing mixes vs backgrounding, etc...

If getting it hired out, then yeah, chopping may be a pretty strong contender, can easily leave it as a one man show for feeding afterwards. Bunker vs bags would be my choices, but that is mostly because that's what I am used to. We have bunkers that slope out a bit, so packing is great and side wastage is next to none, and I know some guys get that close if they use the expensive oxygen limiting plastic on top as well....

But yeah, pro's and con's to each situation. How much longer are you farming by yourself? What is worth sinking capital into vs hiring out vs...? A little easier to sell off a bale wrapper vs a silo when it does come time to shut er down?

Oh yeah, would you sell much or any if silage? Would individually wrapped bales sell in your area?

I have heard of finishing rations work on just silage and grain, if the chop length is long enough...
 

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If your land is close to your yard, could an old Field Queen get you past those frustrating weeks, then you could still make hay when the sun shines.

I always think its risky to go all in on anything.


Of if you want to ramp things up and put your shingle out !

.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
LOL Haystack, I think video 1 is closer to my speed, though you're telling me I still need a pit or bag to put it in! If I had a round baler capable of silage baling, it would still be capable of dry baling, no? If not, I can keep my current baler going (though it is worn out).

To the question of how long I plan on doing this myself, that is indeed a good question! 17 years? Son may not leave the area after all? Won't know for a few years, just kind of getting a plan in place.

Mixer is not currently on the farm, but I have thought of that. That would be a good addition.

The weather for making all that dry hay is just not happening, and when the weather is good, now there's hardly enough labor to go great guns when you need to. If the son takes off....no way.

1. New (different) silage capable baler
2. Wrapper
3. Mixer?
4. What else?
 

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Maybe a combi baler is exactly what you need. It doesn't take a lot of custom work with some equipment that can do the job to exceed the net revenue of a small livestock operation, and equipment really never dies unless you want it to.

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Here's a bunch more interesting new toys to look at.


Last year I did some 4x4x8 squares as silage for a neighbour. It was sorghum oats and weeds, a heavy crop in a 30' row. It took it in nicely but I had a bit of a fight with a couple of the knotters. It turned out the needles need to be set slightly to one side as it clearly states in the book.

We did it a bit too wet but that was the only real issue we had with the 4900. He ramped under them with a chain stackmover because they were very heavy. In the yard he managed to get them two high with a loader, but just barely. He put them on plastic and up and over the pile.

Apparently it was his best feed,liquid even ran out of them in the winter when feeding. He had to cut the strings and feed half at a time because they were too heavy. He'd like to try it again, a bit dryer, one row on the ground, no plastic underneath and use dry ones to hold the cover down.
 
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