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Plastic Bags For Big Bales
If you want to feed it like you baled it, then Bag-It!"
So says Joe Lawless, Jr., of Plastic Forage Savers, marketer of new Bag-It plastic bags for big bales. Individual bags, made of 4 mil black plastic, cost $3.50 each and cover any bale up to 6 ft. in dia.
When should bales be bagged?
It's a case of waiting until the baled hay has had a chance to go through a "sweat" and is dry, but hopefully, not waiting so long it gets rained on. "I personally wouldn't wait any longer to bag than my confidence in the weather forecasts," says Lawless, who generally recommends bagging about a week after baling. "Some condensation may occur on the top of bagged bales if the hay was baled a little on the wet side, he explains. "However, this condensation appears to cause little or no spoilage. The plastic seems to absorb enough solar heat to dry off and eliminate this moisture without spoilage."
Should the bags be tied?
"We generally leave them untied since there's very little spoilage on the ends, even on unbagged bales," answers Lawless. "It takes two men only a minute or two to bag and wrap a big bale. One man can do it but it's faster with two."
Does bagged hay sell for a premium?
"So far, I don't know of any bagged bales that have been sold," he told FARM SHOW. "The top producers are the first to try to do a more efficient job. When a livestock producer proves to himself the value of bagging, he'll require his hay suppliers to provide him with big bales in bags."
On a 1,250 lb. bale, priced at $80 per ton, 15% loss pencils out to $7.50 versus $3.50 for the price of a plastic bag. (They come ten in a roll, priced at $35 per roll.) Lawless thinks 15% would be a conservative estimate of the spoilage loss in unprotected big bales. "If you check unprotected bales closely, you'll find more spoilage on one side than the other, and very little at either end. There's a good reason for this," says Lawless, who cites this illustration:
"Take a slick-paper magazine of 200 or so pages, roll it up and tie it with the same degree of pressure as hay compressed in a bale. Now, if you were to slowly pour water on the very top, which side would shed the least amount of water the one with the ends of the pages turned down, or up? Works the same way when rain falls on a rolled up bale of hay. One side sheds less moisture than the other."
For more details, including dealer inquiries, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Plastic Forage Savers, Joe Lawless, Jr., Box 187, Jacksonville, Ill. 62650 (ph. 217 673-3931).

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1977 - Volume #1, Issue #1