Wrapping slightly tough hay in plastic can improve forage quality and reduce weather losses, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.

Rather than play chicken with rainy weather, Anderson explains in one of his recent Forage Minutes, “Studies have shown excellent success wrapping bales containing 25-40% moisture. After a full year in storage, the hay came out of the wrapping in great shape, with very little storage loss, a nice silage odor, and well-preserved nutrients.”

According to Anderson, wrapping tough hay reduces weather risk because wrapping often occurs a day sooner than normal baling. On the other hand, yield and forage quality can be higher because fewer leaves are lost.

 “It does take a lot of plastic, though,” Anderson says. “Six or seven layers are needed to maintain feed quality. If you don’t use enough plastic or fail to repair any holes, this kind of hay can spoil very fast.”