Making baled hay silage for sheep

Asked May 1, 2019, 7:13 PM EDT

Looking into making baled hay silage for sheep. We currently feed dry hay,We make about 500 4 x 4 round bales & about 500 small square bales. I am looking at silage special balers with or without pre-cutter or chopper.Bale wrappers etc.We currently have a John Deere 458 round Baylor ( not a silage special ) I am overwhelmed by the different brands and types and the lack of knowledge of the dealers. Any info would be greatly appreciated .Thank you David Wylie

Livingston County Michigan

1 Response


I spoke with Dr. Richard Ehrhardt about this question as he has mouch ore expertise on this subject than I do, as he makes his own balage to heef his sheep. Her is his response

A general guideline for round balers used in baled silage is that many companies make them with some similar to the base models but have scrapers on the intake rollers to prevent wet crop from wrapping around them and also having a heavier duty chasis/axle/tires to support the much heavier bales. Round balers for silage include ones that utilize belts and also ones that utilize metal rollers. The types with metal rollers do not roll that bale extensively as do belt balers and can often handle slightly wetter crops. The horsepower requirements of the belt balers is often lower than those using metal rollers.

There are also crop cutting options on both types of round balers. A crop cutter feature involved a series of knives that cut the forage during the intake process. These knives are stationary and can often be disengaged completely so that the baler acts the same as one without knives. The knives are also removable and one can add more or less knives to chop the crop to a shorter or longer cut. The crop cutter option allows for greater bale density and also allows the bale to be used more easily in a total mixed ration as the bales fall apart with agitation in a vertical mixer. The crop cutter option requires greater horsepower however when engaged so if a farmer needs that option, you would want to be sure your tractor has sufficient horsepower (probably more than 120 HP but check a dealer specifically as each unit would differ).

As far as brands, I would look for one that can be serviced close to you if possible. There are many good brands. Some have better pick-up than others and some have variable chamber size to make differenet sized bales (for most silage your want bales no bigger than 4x4 however due to their heavy weight). Newer units have features such as an intake floor that can be dropped to allow quick clearance of material that clogs the intake (common in short and wet crop). This feature is very handy as it saves a lot of time and stress when needing to remove a clog of wet crop when you are doing a big job.