Baleage vs. Haylage

Baleage and haylage are both ways of harvesting and storing forage for livestock that use the fermenting process for preservation

Baleage is similar to traditional dry hay bales, but the bales are wrapped in plastic because they are too wet to store safely as dry hay. Once wrapped either in individual bales or in long plastic tubes, the moist hay bales begin to ferment. Haylage, by comparison, is made of forage that is cut, chopped and stored wet inside a bunk, silo or bag, where it will ferment.

Regardless of which way you choose to harvest and store, you’ll need a tractor and different compatible precision implements to get the job done - and Kubota’s line up has you covered all season long.

Both baleage and haylage crops start off when they’re cut down in the field - using a Kubota plain disc mower or disc mower conditioner for example. A tedder - like the Kubota TE models - can be used to spread cut grass out in the field to help it dry faster and rakes - consider Kubota rotor or wheel rakes - serve to windrow the drying hay together.

To make haylage, the forage is chopped using a silage chopper and packed for storage. A silage defacer, like Kubota’s SD96, is a great attachment that makes loosening and breaking up packed forage for easy feeding to cattle and other livestock. It also minimizes spillage, which reduces the amount of feed that is wasted.

Baleage, by comparison, is partially dried, then baled and then wrapped in plastic 12 to 24 hours after baling to preserve the moisture content and ensure the hay can ferment properly. The Kubota BV Series of round balers are ideal for this job - compact and powerful, and creating dense and airtight bales every time.

Kubota’s new FastBale round baler model is both a baler and a wrapper in one unit, making quick work of getting hay baled and wrapped, but Kubota also has convenient bale wrapper attachments that focus simply on quick, efficient wrapping. When it comes time for feeding, the Kverneland 853 and 856 PRO series bale choppers are ideal for chopping baleage and getting it in front of your livestock quickly.

Baleage and haylage both produce high quality livestock feed when harvested and stored correctly, but there are a few things to consider when making the choice for your farm, including the nutritional needs of your livestock.

Baleage will take longer to ferment than silage because it is usually drier than chopped silages, and the plant stems are not cut into smaller particles like with haylage.

Compared to dry hay, baleage results in less loss during storage, fewer possible weather delays during harvest, and faster regrowth of subsequent cuts because forage isn’t lying on the field as long. Baleage also requires all the same equipment most farmers already have for making dry hay, with the exception of a bale wrapper, whereas haylage requires an additional specialized silage chopper.

Regardless of whether you opt for baleage or haylage, you’ll need the right-sized tractor to tow and operate your forage attachments. Regardless of the size of your farm, Kubota’s M Series tractor family will have an ideal tractor for your needs, from M60, M4D, M6S, M5, M5L and M6 utility tractors to large M7 and M8 models that will help you cover a lot of ground all day long.