Oct 18, 2017
Moisture levels in Hay Bales
Moisture is one of the most important factors in Hay spoilage and loss. The average moisture level in Hay is 15-20%.
Higher moisture levels cause heating or even fires in the bales. In wet hay, Compounds of insoluble Nitrogen are formed and Protein becomes unavailable to animals. Hay losses its quality, TDN (total digestible nutrients) decreases and loss of DM (dry matter). To know the available Protein, producers can ask for ADIN (Acid Detergent Insoluble Nitrogen). To determine ADIN, we must first test the ADF (acid detergent fiber) then use the residue and test the crude protein. The report will show the available protein. This is an important test, as Protein is often the first limiting nutrient, Heated feed can easily only have only 50% of the protein available to the animal. So that great deal you got on heated feed, might not be that great.
Increased moisture also creates Mold formation. Spores of Mold (Asperigillus and Fusarium are commonly found) can lead to Mycotoxin development. Feeding animals with high levels of mold and mycotoxin can result in serious respiratory and health problems. As a general rule, feed forages with less than 10,000 cfu/gr of mold, any higher should be done with extreme caution. Every herd and breed can differ, some are more sensitive than others. Also the type of mold is also very important to know. Aspergillus and Mucor are types of mold that has shown to cause problems in pregnant cows. Mold growth in hay can start to happen at 15% moisture. Temperature can also play a role of how fast mold in wet hay can accumulate. It is important to note that a mold test is a snap shot in time, and that it can easily change over time if the bail stays wet.
Low moisture in hay makes leaves fall off and loosing nutritional values.
The shape of the bale, its size and density (small square bales, large square bales and round hay bales), equipment used, storage conditions, climate and type of the hay are all important factors. These factors will effect on Moisture levels in Hay bales.
Moisture can be determined by drying oven, or by NIR which has proven to be quite accurate and reliable. Moisture for all forages at CTL goes through a 3 step process, first the sample gets dried at low heat overnight(moisture received), then it gets ground, then the ground sample gets analysed for a final moisture count either by oven or NIR (moisture analyzed).
Moisture content is very important in Hay Bales. It should be checked & controlled before harvesting, while harvesting and after the hay is baled! This will ensure ultimate quality for your livestock.