A Scottish farmer and contractor describe how they’re using BaleSafe and other modern technology to take the risk out of making hay.

Making hay and straw is an important part of contractor James MacDonald’s business, so he takes a zero-tolerance approach to mouldy or heated bales. As a result, BaleSafe has become a regular part of his armoury, which he uses at any point he feels moistures are too high or the weather is threatening.

Running the latest generation of Krone BIG Pack balers, his 1270 Multi-Bale XC has a quadrant sized chamber which makes either one ‘eight foot’ bale (240cm x 120cm x 70cm) or up to eight small bales.

Also fitted with an additive applicator, two moisture meters, weigh scales and even a paint kit to mark any higher moisture bales in red, his company – trading as Nessko – offers a precision operation, designed to deliver consistency, reliability and transparency to all of its customers.

Operating around Inverness and in the Highlands of Scotland, he says every kind of weather can be thrown at the baling process.

However, he says the additive he previously used failed to offer any protection, so he switched over to BaleSafe around five years ago.

Ditching the plastic wrap

Today he treats around 40% of both hay and straw with the preservative, which can bring baling forward by 24 hours, and can save turning a crop of straw.

“We’d normally turn straw on the end rigs [headlands] but if we use BaleSafe, we can get away without,” he says.

“If the straw [on the headlands] has a moisture content of around 30%, using BaleSafe turns this into a useable product,” he says.

The end product won’t heat, and is also less dusty, which makes it better for handling and for palatability to stock. Also able to bale earlier and finish later, he says: “If you can gain an hour at the start and end of each day, that soon adds up.”

Bringing baling forward

Ian Hall, Kelvin Cave’s sales director, says: “BaleSafe contains human food-grade preservatives which stop the development of yeasts and moulds in high moisture hay, haylage and straw. This explains why James’s hay stays completely cool and fresh and can be kept unwrapped at moisture contents of up to 25%.

” Mr MacDonald says his customers are also now gaining more financially from ditching the plastic wrap.

He says: “Plastic is double the cost of last year and by using BaleSafe, they have the potential of a far superior feeding product at a higher dry matter, with no mould and no messy plastic to dispose of.

“And because these bales are square, they are far easier to separate than round bales and allow you to feed the correct weight each day. I know the exact weight of my bales and if a hay bale weighs 400kg you know how long that will last and can easily separate exactly how much to feed.”

Gaining moisture after cutting

One of Nessko’s customers is Alasdair Macnab, who farms 129 acres (52ha) at Kildun Farm, alongside the Cromarty Firth. Here, half of the land is below sea level and the cut swath can often pick up moisture from the ground. If not handled carefully, hay cut at 14% moisture can be 18% by the time it enters the baling chamber.

Above left: Farmer Alasdair Macnab with some of his baled hay. Above right: Nessko’s Krone 1270 Multi-Bale XC Big Pack baler.

Mr Macnab says: “I can remember my Dad making hay in the days before additives and in some years the process was a disaster.”

In those early days he says making hay rarely paid, but today he has the technology to mitigate the effects of difficult weather, and now has a good business selling baled forage.

He says hay at over 18% moisture and straw at over 20% is likely to be treated with BaleSafe on his farm.

“This gives us a far better chance of securing a good crop and also saves wrapping and the cost of wrap disposal,” he says.

The straw is used at Kildun to feed and bed the farm’s pedigree Limousin herd and most of the hay is sold.

“Customers are delighted and return year after year,” he says. This includes both equine and livestock buyers whose only priority is that the hay is of the highest quality. Sowing a field out with a stand of Timothy has improved this further as its high palatability and good scratch factor makes it popular for ruminants and horses alike.

Mr MacDonald adds: “Timothy grass treated with BaleSafe is a really excellent product. A lot of people with horses won’t have anything else, so when they ask me to supply it, I send them to Alasdair.”

How BaleSafe can be used
Once the forage is considered to be silage, it is advisable to move to the Safesil range of preservatives.

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