Forage methods examined at expo
Panelists at the recent Illinois Forage Expo shared their knowledge and experiences on the newest way to make hay in Illinois and the rest of the Midwest.
Even though he is in northern Illinois, Kendall Guither from Walnut gets six cuttings a year and has been doing baleage, or hay baled wet, for 25 years now.
“I’ve been doing 500 acres the last several years,” Guither told the audience at the expo held near Fairbury at Kilgus Farmstead.
John Kaeb of Arrowsmith is a grain farmer who also has 130 beef cows and grows alfalfa. He has been doing baleage from the first cutting for several years now. Doug Hanson, a cover crop specialist with Pro Harvest Seeds who raises beef, noted the importance of having stored feed if you have cattle.
Hanson feels baleage is a quality opportunity for producers as they can control their harvest. He struggles to come up with one type of forage which can’t be used to make baleage on.
Kaeb does not have a set moisture level to harvest baleage at but rather uses the touch and feel method to look things over.
“Typically, 40 to 60 percent is a good range,” Kaeb explained.
While dairy goats like it a little drier, wetter baleage is usually alright, in Guither’s opinion.
“You need enough moisture to get good fermentation,” he said.
Baleage tends to get confused with dry hay since it can still be a square or round bale. It is simply hay which is too wet to store safely as dry hay so it is sealed in plastic. The baleage can be fermented as individual bales or in a tube. Haylage is forage chopped with a silage chopper and packed in a silo, bag or bunk.
Members of the Illinois Forage and Grassland Council include educators, forage producers, students and government or industry representatives. The IFGC’s mission is to provide the framework which unites industry, producers, educational and government institutions for the production, marketing and wise use of forages and grasslands.
The recent Illinois Forage Expo at Kilgus Farmstead included an introduction to the Kilgus family, tours of the dairy, forage equipment demonstrations and an ice cream social. Those attending also had the chance to visit with different vendors throughout the day.