Farm Progress

Baleage reduces hay production time and is cheaper than tedding a wet forage.

Maria Cox, Blogger

August 16, 2017

2 Min Read

My dad has taught me a lot, but probably the most important thing is that it’s never too late to try something new. Last week he turned 71. It was also the first time that we baled higher moisture hay and wrapped it to make baleage.

Typically we cut hay, ted it on the second and third days, and rake and bale on the third or sometimes fourth day. This standard operating procedure works like a charm if it doesn’t rain during that time window. Low humidity can also decrease the number of tedding passes. Dry bales weigh around 1,600 lbs. and we truck them to customers in 22-ton loads.

I’ve historically had strong feelings against wrapping hay. Wrapped hay bales are wetter, smaller, and weigh more. I can’t see how it would pay to truck such few and heavy bales to customers in a semi load. I figured we had enough dry round bales and didn’t need to get into wrapping.

Despite my opposition, I’ve also heard that baleage is great feed and reduces hay production time to two days.

Flooding leads to change

My thoughts on baleage changed this spring. In April, we had flooding that wiped out 150 acres of our perennial reed canary grass. This was the same acreage that we spent over $100 per acre to reseed last year. A high seed cost for the perennial, plus annual flooding as of late, made us look at other options. We decided on sudan grass. This annual crop is cheaper to seed and produces good tonnage.

We spent three extra days tedding the first cutting and still couldn’t get it dry. So, we had the second cutting wrapped. We cut the first day and baled the second.

I initially didn’t want to spend the money on the wrapping job, but I have now concluded that wrapping is cheaper than the time and machinery expense spent tedding a wet forage.

So here we are in August with several hundred marshmallow bales in rows. If the cows like it, we may do this every year. We’ve also learned that baleage can be incorporated into our feedlot ration.

I owe it to my dad for the baleage move. It’s hard to comprehend, but I am the more stubborn one of the two of us when it comes to change. I typically think that the cost of change is more than the opportunity of it. My dad usually pushes me along until I finally come around to realizing that making a change may cost at first but save in the long run.

Kudos to my dad on having another birthday and also showing me that change is uncomfortable, but good.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

About the Author(s)

Maria Cox


Maria Cox is a sixth generation grain, livestock, and hay farmer from White Hall, Ill.  She has been farming with her family since 2012, and also has experience in grain marketing and crop insurance.  She holds a M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and a B.S. in Agribusiness from the University of Illinois. You can find her online at and twitter @mariacoxfarm.

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