When using bale silage, fodder is available in smaller units and the farmer has more fodder-management possibilities. Grassland management is easier with baled silage because the time at which the silage is made is not constrained by the need to get it into the clamp or silo.
Fields from which cattle have been moved after grazing the first spring grass, or from which a first cut has been taken, can be grown for further cuts of silage. Additionally, small areas that would be uneconomic for clamp silage or inconvenient for grazing can be used productively for baled silage.
Many practitioners produce bale silage as the work flows can be easily and individually organised. Unlike clamp silage, the production of bale silage with combined wrap-baler machines is a “one-man technique”. Time needed for coordination and planning as well as the risk of interruptions are both minimal. There is only one machine involved. For clamp silage on the other hand, a number of people and machines are involved and have to work together seamlessly for optimal output. Disruptions during any phase of the process will lead to interruptions to the chain of production.
Once a silage clamp is closed, the fermentation process begins. It cannot be re-opened until required for use. Since few farms have more than one clamp, baled silage provides a viable alternative for second and third cuts, adding flexibility to grassland management and allowing farming strategies to change quickly.
Additional benefits of bale silage adding flexibility to farm and grassland management include:
Less dependence on weather
Compared to other systems of fodder conservation, bale silage production is less dependent on weather conditions. Although the weather has to be good until the bales are wrapped, transportation and storing can be done when the weather is poor.
Feed closer to the animal
Bales prove useful where farms are composed of a number of distant outlying plots. This separation also tends to occur where farms consolidate, which is a process being seen across Europe as a whole. Bringing the grass to a central point can be uneconomic, as is the idea of multiple clamps or silos.
Tailored dietary solutions
Another benefit of baled silage is that it can easily be mixed with other forages, for example in the feed wagon, to achieve the required dietary balance. Analysis services and advice on such matters are increasingly available.
Performance-oriented dairy farmers can label and store bales according to quality — for example according to cuts. This way the best quality silage can be used when the animals most need it, for example with the higher yielding cows at the appropriate period in the milk cycle.
Depending on the quantity of fodder needed, the purchasing or selling of bales is also an additional advantage. Farmers can sell surplus fodder, as bale silage can be traded easily. In some cases, they produce high quality bale silage in easily manageable mini bales, which then are sold to horse keepers. Thus, they have created another income for their farm.
Transporting the bales can pose a risk as inappropriate handling can damage the film. A balance must be kept between the benefits of portability and the risk of damage. Care in handling will minimise the risk.