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Cover bales this winter to stop losses stacking up

If just 15cm of damp affecting the outside of a round bale is equivalent to a 35% loss in total volume, then leaving straw and hay bales scattered across fields or in uncovered stacks is losing farmers £1,000s every year.

“With dry conditions earlier in the year creating forage shortages and stunted straw in a number of areas, that potential financial loss is likely to be even greater this winter as hay and straw values rise in response to increased demand and reduced supply,” states Thomas and Fontaine’s Dr Gerard Thomas.

“Even where bales are stacked, there’s still significant loss from rain and snow if left uncovered, with the wet material reducing palatability, less absorbent as bedding, and increasing the risks posed to livestock and workers by moulds and mycotoxins.”

When farming margins are already under a lot of pressure, it’s astounding to see valuable bales just left out in the weather, claims Dr Thomas. So whether bales are kept for on-farm use, or destined for sale, he’s urging all farms to stack and cover bales as soon as possible after baling.

“The cost of covering isn’t as high as many people think. Any decent stack can be quickly and easily covered with a normal polythene silage sheet, but the key is to use a weighted cover like Secure Covers on top, to hold the sheet in place and protect it from wind and bird damage.

“Without it, damage to the sheeting will quickly allow water into the bales, and the losses start to stack up,” he adds.

“Stackpack clips can be used to attach tyres or gravel bags to tension the covers, holding them in place throughout the fiercest gales. And because Secure Covers are reusable, they’ll give many years of good service, whether on silage clamps or bale stacks, paying for themselves many times over in terms of reduced losses.”

For more information contact your local Trident merchant (see for details), or call Trident direct on 01733 422230.

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