Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
July 1, 1999

Twine Spacing Reduces Hay Loss

The hay harvest season is in full swing in many locations throughout much of the Midwest. Windshield observation of the large packages of hay indicates a wide variation in twine distribution. It is not hard to detect the spacing of the twine from a distance. Watch for the slight variations in the top portion of the bales as you observe them. The larger the distance between the wraps of twine around each bale the greater the expansion and protrusion of the hay between the twine wraps in the finished bale.

Twine spaced at 8 inches or greater between wraps permits the hay to expand out between the wraps of the twine. Spacing of this amount permits the hay to expand, become loose and increases the tendency to absorb moisture from rainfall. When these circumstances occur it is easy to increase the potential for hay spoilage and mold development.

Research data assembled from a twine spacing study in 1991 determined the amount of spoilage in large bales with 2-, 4-, 6- and 8-inch twine spacing. In this study eight bales of alfalfa hay baled at 13% moisture were stored outside and exposed to the weather. The 2 inch twine spacing required 407 feet of twine per bale, the 4 inch spacing required 268.5 feet of twine per bale, the 6 inch twine spacing required 222 feet of twine and 166.5 feet of twine was required on the bales with the 8 inch twine spacing.

Spoilage checks revealed a large variation in the amount of hay removed due to deterioration between each group of bales. Bales with the 2-inch twine spacing had a loss due to spoilage of 12.9%. The 4-inch twine spacing revealed a 16.2% forage loss, the 6-inch twine spacing had a 29.4% loss due to spoilage and the 8-inch twine spacing had a 38.4% forage loss due to spoilage.

At today’s twine cost the 2 inch spacing would require $0.61 per bale, the 4 inch would cost $0.40 per bale, the 6 inch spacing would cost $0.33 per bale and the 8 inch twine spacing would cost $0.25 per bale. The difference of $0.36 between the 2-inch and 8-inch twine spacing is definitely a minor cost when compared to the 25.5% difference in the amount of spoilage.

These calculations indicate that for each 100 pounds of hay lost 25.5 pounds of hay could be saved if an additional 240.5 feet of twine was placed on the large bales at harvesting time. The cost of adding this additional twine would be $0.36 per bale. The 4-inch spacing would require additional twine cost of $0.15 compared to the 8-inch twine spacing and the 6-inch twine spacing would cost and additional $0.08 per bale compared to the 8-inch spacing. By adding the additional twine a reduction in storage loss occurs by reducing the area between the twine wraps at the baling process.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - July 1, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT070199.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004