Preserving hay color, protein content and feed value is an important concern to hay producers. Spray conditioners/ preservatives can be applied either from the swather or at entrance to the baler to help preserve the crop. Harvest and storage losses for baled hay can represent a significant source of economic loss. These losses are directly related to the length of time cut hay lays in the field prior to baling. Baling hay at higher moisture levels reduces leaf shatter and field curing time. Additionally, more protein-rich leaves and softer stems improve digestibility. In order to bale at moisture levels above 15 percent, forage quality solutions are required to inhibit microbial growth, deterioration and spontaneous combustion of the hay during storage.
Hay preservatives can be grouped into three general categories: organic acids or their salts, fermentation formulas and ammonia-based products. Formulations of organic (primarily propionic) acids are the most popular. These conditioners work by inhibiting growth of aerobic microbes (mold) within the hay, thus diminishing heat buildup, and lessening losses of dry matter and nutritive value. These products can be used to improve all types of hay crops, not just alfalfa. Propionic acid-based preservatives are liquids that are usually buffered to reduce corrosive damage to farm equipment, and are applied via a tank or reservoir mounted on the baler. The preservative can be applied through spray nozzles fastened above the pick-up attachment on the baler, which is common for large-round balers, or discharged directly onto the hay within the bale chamber for small or large-square balers. Fermentation additives are applied from the swather directly on the windrow and will not cause rust to equipment.
KeyAg Distributors based in Murtaugh, Idaho manufactures Dyna-Cure®, a hay conditioner which is sprayed directly on the windrows from a tank attached to the swather. Dyna-Cure is an organically certified fermentation product (Lactobacillus) which is completely safe for all livestock sectors. It helps stops the growth of molds and aerobic bacteria that promote spoilage, reduce hay palatability, and decreases nutrient value. It also helps to improves palatability, digestibility and overall feed value. This product has been on the market for over 30 years and is used extensively in the western United States but is gaining popularity across the country.
“This product is manufactured in Southern Idaho and is an advanced hay conditioner. Primarily it conditions hay so we can put up soft leafy hay in a dry form. It is best applied at the windrower so the product is on the hay throughout the drying process. It advances and accelerates the drying process which could lead to quicker processing time. This is a tool a producer can use to help put up a better and more marketable crop and can give them a competitive edge. During raking there is less leaf shatter and when we bale there is less leaf shatter at the pickup point. More dry matter recovery improves bale density and weight,” said John Kelly president of KeyAg Distributors.
Warne Chemical and Equipment Co in Rapid City, South Dakota is a distributor for Dyna-Cure® and also manufactures the applicators. “Last year was huge for Dyna-Cure, with excessively wet conditions challenging those in the hayfield. This aids in getting the alfalfa made and cows love it,” said Lester Neilson of Warne Chemical. “You can use it on grass hay, alfalfa, sorghum, sudan and millet hay. It helps to prevent the mold and allows you to bale it at higher moisture. It’s good for all conditions, and the driving reason is the aid to be able to bale sooner, with higher moisture, retention of more leaves and helps you put up a better quality product. With the expense of putting up hay you can’t afford to put up bad stuff.”
John Peck a hay producer from New Underwood, South Dakota has been using Dyna-Cure® with impressive results. “I had a friend who used it and last year we had so much rain, this product saves you a day of drying time. The color stays green, doesn’t bleach and since it’s an organic bug, it’s safe. We sell everything so the color is important. It absolutely paid for itself, with damp ground and rain all the time, every day counts. Our protein was higher and it even helped prevent mold growth in our first cutting which was rained on. I even videoed the rakes when we were raking the alfalfa with the hydraulic rakes, we didn’t lose any leaves. It made a night and day difference and I’m sold on it for sure.”
Matt Bowen rancher and hay producer from Phillip, South Dakota saw the difference in John Peck’s hay and has decided to install a preservative applicator on his new large square baler. “I am going with an acid based product I can purchase from John Deere in 260 gallon totes. I want to increase the hay quality, extend our baling time and reduce curing time.”
Kemin has developed Fresh Cut® Plus, a liquid hay preservative for hay baled at higher moisture levels. The liquid formulation allows for more complete distribution and penetration into hay. It is an organic acid blend effective against a wide variety of mold strains and wild yeast growth. By controlling the growth of these living things, Fresh Cut® Plus helps prevent heating, resulting in a better product. With less heat the chance of bale combustion is greatly reduced. It is buffered to protect equipment from corrosion while improving worker safety. Once the product is applied it is perfectly safe for all livestock, but during the application process standard safety procedures should be followed. A tank is installed on the baler and the product is sprayed on the hay at the pickup point.
“We can put hay up at higher moisture, with more leaves and better feed value. By being able to bale at higher moisture it can be used as a management tool, so we can get ahead of weather. In dryer climates the crop can be put up faster so water can be reapplied quicker and increases yield of the same acres. With the increased demand for quality US hay around the world, producers need to produce a higher quality product. We don’t have to be the best, we just need to focus on producing a higher quality product,” said Eugene Rodberg, product manager for Kemin Animal Nutrition & Health North America, Des Moines, Iowa. “We have been selling this since 1984. It’s amazing how many ways people are using our products. This is not a magic bullet but it helps to make high quality hay production easier. We usually tell producers for every dollar you give us we will give you three. Most folks can set it up themselves, farmers are pretty resourceful. The wetter the hay, the more product is needed so cost can vary but usually it runs about 12 to 15 dollars a ton.”
Lester Neilson said. “You will complain about the cost of it all summer but your cows will sell it to you this winter.”