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 minimize losses from harvesting until feeding. No matter 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. So why bale silage?

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.

Bale and Clamp Silage - Systems for Silage Production

When it comes to silage production, two main systems are used: bale (round or square and wrapped in silage film wrap) and clamp (silage pit). Bales have many benefits compared with clamps as a means of conserving silage for winter feeding, including: flexibility, maximizing utilization of grazed grass, reducing dry matter losses and an excellent ensiling alternative with high value forages.

Bale Silage - The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
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
High unit costs

Not suitable for very wet silage

Labour/time at feeding outProne to damage if not properly handled

Plastic waste disposal cost and compliance with waste regulations.

Learn more about Bale vs. Clamp Silage

The Importance of Quality Wrap

A key component of producing quality bale silage is having quality film wrap. The best silage films are made by film manufacturers in partnership with raw material providers who have a strong understanding of the silage market. Leading brands of films made with Dow’s, DOWLEX™ Polyethylene Resins for silage provide customers with excellent cling and exceptional puncture resistance to help minimize silage spoilage and help ensure low oxygen and water permeability to preserve the nutritional value of the ensiled crop.

Bale Silage in Fields

Flexible Management System

  • Variable harvesting dates
  • Economical harvesting
  • Complete forage diet feeding

Rapid Sealing

  • Increases rate of fermentation
  • Reduces in-bale losses

Small Sealed Units of Silage

  • Reduces aerobic spoilage