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Conservation of forage during the summer for deferred use is a common production practice for beef cattle enterprises. Pasture forage production is not always adequate to meet beef cow intake or nutrient requirements. Conservation of forage provides feed và nutritional resources to meet beef cow nutritional requirements during annual seasonal deficits in pasture forage production to maintain adequate cow productivity.

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Florida"s climate makes conserving forages for later feeding challenging. Forage for hay production must be harvested when the humidity is low khổng lồ ensure optimal drying conditions. Additionally, Floridomain authority growing conditions make conserving the unique of forage difficult, since frequently it must be harvested when it has matured past its nutritional peak. Scientists are exploring alternative sầu methods of forage conservation suited to Florida"s challenges. Extensive sầu work with the development & utilization of round bale silage (RBS) has previously been examined by Kunkle (2003). Round bale silage offers an alternative method of forage harvesting và storage to lớn traditional hay harvest và storage. Traditional giỏi harvest systems require optimal cutting, drying, and baling weather conditions. The use of round bale silage overcomes several of the challenges khổng lồ hay production in Florida và offer an attractive compliment lớn traditional giỏi harvest systems.

Certainly, RBS offers several advantages. A primary advantage is that RBS can mitigate adverse weather và drying conditions for giỏi production that frequently occur in Florida during the summer (Figure 1). Incorporation of a RBS system increases the flexibility of the forage harvest window. Sequential days of dry weather are not required for the conservation of forage in the RBS system. This flexibility allows for the timely harvest of forages khổng lồ capture forage nutrients before they are lost due to lớn maturity or weathering. Additionally, RBS does not require as much drying time as hay; therefore, less plant material is lost due to lớn processing and handling. Appropriate preservation dry matter targets for hay (approximately 85%) & RBS (approximately 50%) should be utilized. Excessive moisture in either hay or RBS will increase the opportunity for spoilage và ultimately decrease the quality và consistency of the conserved forage. Because it protects silage from weathering, an RBS system may retain more of the nutrients in the forage than a traditional system. Finally, RBS-conserved forage maintains its unique out of doors, thus no hay barn structures are required.

Figure 1. Probability of three consecutive dry days each week during the spring and summer. Credit: Adapted from Bates et al. (1989)


A demonstration was conducted at the Santa Fe-Boston Farm Beef Research Unit located in northern Alachua County Florida. A 50-acre Tifton-85 Bermudagrass field was divided into lớn two 25-acre sections. One section was managed khổng lồ produce giỏi only. Forage was harvested as large round hay bales (5-foot diameter) as growing conditions & weather permitted. The other section was managed on a 4-week harvest schedule. Forage was harvested and stored as large round xuất xắc bales when weather/drying conditions permitted. When weather did not allow for harvest as tốt, forage was harvested và stored as RBS. The xuất xắc only section was fertilized four times (1–90 lb N/acre, 3–80 lb N/acre) from April through August; the hay-RBS section received five applications of fertilizer (1–90 lb N/acre, 3–80 lb N/acre, 1–68 lb N/acre) because an additional forage harvest occurred.

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Hay production typically required 3 lớn 4 days of drying time with 1 lớn 2 rakings to facilitate dry-down of the forage. The RBS was baled in a similar manner khổng lồ dry tốt using a large round baler. It was preserved with an Anderson in-line hay wrapper. Production of RBS utilized a 3- khổng lồ 4-hour wilting time between cutting and baling và no raking. Bales for RBS were wrapped within 2 hours of baling. Hay and RBS bale weights và core samples were collected on every 10th bale produced on the day of harvest. Analysis of xuất xắc và RBS samples was performed by Dairy One (Ithaca, NY) NIRS analysis. This analysis provided detailed information about bale dry matter, protein, total digestible nutrient, fiber fractions, and other nutrients. Bale weights were obtained after baling, và either prior to lớn storage as hay or RBS. Total number of bales was recorded at each harvest khổng lồ calculate total pounds of forage harvested for each system.


More cuttings of forage were taken from the hay-RBS field, which was managed khổng lồ remove forage on a regular interval compared to the tuyệt field (Table 1). The increase in the number of cuttings resulted in an increased total number of bales, total wet forage harvested, & total forage dry matter harvested from the hay-RBS compared khổng lồ the hay-only production system. The hay-RBS section included one cutting of forage that was harvested as tốt. Mean bale weight produced from the hay-RBS section was 42% greater than mean bale weight from the hay section. Forage dry matter was very different between the two harvest sections because of the large portion of forage harvested as RBS. Hay section bale dry matter was 45.7 units greater than bales produced from the hay-RBS section. Mean bale crude protein (CP) & total digestible nutrient (TDN) % were greater for forage harvested from the hay-RBS section compared lớn the tuyệt section. When expressed on a dry matter basis, mean bale weight và bale TDoanh Nghiệp supply was greater for the tuyệt section than the hay-RBS section. However, mean bale CP amount did not differ between the two harvest systems.

When the forage conservation method (giỏi vs. RBS) was examined, mean bale weight was greater for RBS than for hay bales (Table 2). This is a result of the lower dry matter percentages associated with RBS compared with xuất xắc. Additionally, CPhường và TDoanh Nghiệp percentages for bales produced during the summer harvest period were greater for RBS bales than for hay bales. In contrast, greater mean hay bale dry matter yield and TDoanh Nghiệp yield occurred in xuất xắc bales compared to lớn tốt RBS, but CPhường yield did not differ. The improvement in hay CPhường. and TDoanh Nghiệp percentages between Table 2 và 3 occurs because the giỏi described in Table 3 includes xuất xắc produced from the hay-RBS section. Hay bales from the hay-RBS section were slightly greater in quality compared to lớn tuyệt only because of the regular harvest schedule that helped to capture forage chất lượng through managing forage maturity. Management of forage maturity mitigates the increases in fiber fractions, decrease in protein concentration, & increase in stem:leaf ratio as grasses grow and mature. A common misconception is that the ensiling process that RBS undergoes improves the nutritive sầu value of the RBS hàng hóa. In fact, the nutritive value of the forage is mix when the forage is harvested; wrapping RBS just preserves what is present in the forage.

Any forage conservation system will benefit from analysis to quantify the economic parameters of xuất xắc and RBS production. This analysis should include comparisons between giỏi & RBS cost of production & the cost benefit to producing & storing high-quality stored forage. Table 3, using inputs from the demonstration reported in Table 2, presents a cost comparison between tốt và RBS production. However, in this example forage is conserved exclusively as either giỏi or RBS. The calculations & comparisons between xuất xắc và RBS in the example are sensitive sầu khổng lồ the dry matter percentage of the RBS & estimated storage loss difference between hay và RBS (Table 5). Likewise, the different production inputs for xuất xắc & RBS (number of raking, baling costs, & fertilizer applications) & differing costs for these production inputs will drive sầu production costs differences (Table 6). Additionally, the number and kích thước of tuyệt or RBS bales produced will affect total production costs; more và larger bales spread production costs over more output, thus decreasing the production costs per unit produced (i.e., tons of forage, bales).

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Harvesting forage as round bale silage works very well as an alternative khổng lồ traditional tốt harvest. Forage harvest can occur on a regular schedule to lớn optimize forage quantity & chất lượng. To optimize the investment in round bale silage production, harvest forage at its nutritional peak to capture superior unique và to lớn increase production. Additionally, the decreased storage loss associated with round bale silage improves the economic viability of round bale silage as a complement or alternative to lớn tốt production.

Literature Cited

Bates, D. B., W. E. Kunkle, T. E. Dawson, A. Berthe, S. C. Denđắm đuối, C. G. Chambliss, R. C. Cromwell, J. G. Wasdin, D. L. Wakeman. (1989). "Round Bale Silage—A Forage Harvesting Alternative." Floridomain authority Beef Cattle Short Course. (accessed May 17, 2011)

Collins, M., D. Ditsch, J. C. Henning, L. W. Turner, S. Isaacs, and G. D. Lacefield. Round Bale Hay Storage in Kentucky. Univ. of Kentucky Coop. Ext. Serv. AGR-171. (accessed May 17, 2011)

Edwards, W., và A. Johanns. 2010 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey. Iowa State University A3-10. (accessed December 8, 2010)

Kunkle, W. E. (2003). Harvesting, Storing, và Feeding Forages as Round Bale Silage. AN145. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences. (accessed May 17, 2011)

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