white bales row
        Source: Taarup

Principle of silage making
The goal of silage making is to conserve and store crop nutrients using lactic acid bacteria to ensure rapid fermentation in air-free conditions and to minimise losses from harvesting until feeding. Whatever the system, the ensiling and storage system's main functions are to exclude air during the ensiling process and to prevent air from entering the silage during storage.
Speed of harvest, moisture content, chop length, silage distribution and compaction can greatly influence the fermentation process and storage losses. Efficient fermentation generally ensures a more palatable and digestible feedstuff. This promotes maximum dry matter consumption by livestock that usually results in improved milk and/or live weight gain performance.

Big Bales - the pro and cons
Pros:

  • Less dependent on weather conditions
  • Quality of big bale silage can be as good as clamp silage, usually better when well managed
  • Lower aerobic spoilage losses compared to clamp
  • Easy handling and feeding systems (different silage qualities can be fed when needed)
  • Tailored dietary solutions, baled silage can easily be mixed with other forages to provide optimal nutritional requirements to different types of stock on farm
  • Ideal for conservation of surplus grass and grass harvested in autumn
  • Lower dry matter losses during production and storage (<5-10%) than clamp silage
  • Flexible storage system, bales can be stored in the field or easily transported to any location on the farm
  • Limited capital investment, low transport and storage cost
  • Low pollution risk, no effluent wastage if bales are properly wrapped, especially high dry matter bales
  • Surplus can be sold and create another income for their farm

Cons:

  • High unit costs
  • Not suitable for very wet silage
  • Labour/time at feeding out
  • Prone to damage if not properly handled
  • Plastic waste disposal cost and compliance with waste regulations.