Sunday, 14 July 2013

Wrapping Silage Bales

Although I have still a lot to show you from Castle Espie, the shots have not been processed yet so today I am going to show you what I saw in the field I am over looking from my 'old caravan'.  I had never actually seen this process done before and perhaps some of you have not either.  I mainly recorded the wrapping of silage bales on video which I will  show you at the end but for now I will tell you a little about the  process.

Silage is a form of conserved grass (or other crop) that is made by farmers during the summer months when the grass supply is plentiful and not required for grazing. It is fed to cattle and sheep during winter months and is made by preserving the grass under naturally produced acidic conditions which effectively pickle the crop. It is quite moist and usually preferred by livestock to hay as it is more palatable and of higher food value and often forms the bulk of the livestock diet for six months of the year through the winter months.

As you can see from this field, the grass has been cut for silage.  Grass is collected and rolled up in the baler chamber before the back lifts and the bale is dropped off.    They brought the bales from the various fields where it was cut on these big trucks as seen in the first photo.

Above you see they have laid them down in a row, end to end.  There were 4 rows and roughly 50 bales. 
Note how the material is much greener and fresher than a bale of hay and typically will have a moisture content of 30% compared with 14% for hay. 

All aspects of the big bale silage operation are mechanised and this has encouraged its widespread adoption in preference to hay making.

The bale is lifted onto a spinning plate and plastic sheeting layered around it. The whole process takes barely a minute and after wrapping the bale is pushed off to rolls down the ramp at the back of the machine.
Bales are wrapped very tightly and very little air is trapped inside. This ensures that the fermentation of the grass (the process by which it becomes silage) is carried out in the correct conditions. If air gets into the wrapped silage it can spoil and become unpalatable to livestock.

Big bales are moved by tractors with a clamp attachment that does not puncture the plastic and can be stored in any convenient location where there is hard standing. 

Now I will show you the video.  It is a bit noisy due to the machines working but for those, like myself who have never seen this process, I hope you find the video interesting.  It can be access at

This was a bit of a different  post today however I hope you enjoyed it and thank you for visiting.
MANY THANKS to ALL who left comments yesterday on any of my post and to Roy, Frank and Em who helped me ID the Dragonfly.


  1. I've seen the bales, but I've never seen how they're wrapped. Thanks for sharing Margaret. It was very interesting.

  2. Interesting to see Margaret. But how environment friendly is it, given the amount of tractors and machinery, not to mention the plastic, used to create each bale?...[;o)

  3. Great post - so interesting. I really enjoyed and the video was great. Fascinating to watch the silage being wrapped in plastic!! and the little boy seemed to be enjoying himself too!

  4. back in the midwest, they cut sileage and stored it in silos for many, many years. but these days, they blow it into a big long 'plastic bag' that lays on the ground. the individual wrapping like you show is sometimes done on hay bales here.

  5. Hi Margaret,
    Beautiful series of photos and video.
    Very interesting to see.
    Regards, Irma

  6. what a fun change in pace!! beautiful images, the close up is awesome!!

  7. this is totally cool, I'd never seen this done, I liked your little visitor at the end ;-)

  8. Hi Margaret.. Amazing the way farmers do things today isn't compared to when my Grandfather, and the family all helped pitch fork the hay into the hay loft!
    That is quite the set-up thanks for sharing!!
    The big farmers here do it that way, but some still do the regular bales!!

    I want to tell you after seeing on Roy's blog that you was having trouble of spammed comments I checked mine which I do forget to do, and your's on mine have gone to spam too! Hmmm!!

  9. My goodness, they don't spare the black plastic wrap! I was a bit fearful aout the child that was playing so near the machinery. Very interesting indeed!

  10. Interesting post Margaret.

  11. Not like the good old days of a silage pit!!

    Cheers - Stewart M.

    See you in a week?

  12. I enjoy watching this around my way for one reason, it always brings Redkites and Buzzards down to the field in search of food.

  13. Even in Italy I saw these on the country side -wrapped in plastic. I like the old ways of bailing hay better, but I might be nostalgic about it, because I like some paintings of the harvest!