New research from North Dakota State University makes a strong case for removing net wrap and twine before processing bales for your livestock.
In recent years, many producers have turned from twines to woven plastic net wrap to package protect their hay bales. There are many advantages to using net wrap – it allows for faster baling, better protects hay from moisture, and reduces hay loss. While these bale wrapping materials are intended to be removed prior to feeding cattle, time constraints or weather conditions sometimes prevent that from happening. When this occurs, some producers opt to simply process the bale while wrapped, trusting that the material will be broken down into a harmless size after processing.
Patz recommends removing bale wrappings before adding hay to the ration, and new studies show just how hazardous ingesting twines or plastic net wrap can be to cattle. While many cows will sort foreign material out of the ration, some curious cattle will ingest the wrap. Carl Dahlen, Beef Specialist with North Dakota State University, conducted experiments to determine how well bale binding materials pass through the rumen. Dahlen introduced hay and five binding materials – sisal twine, biodegradable twine, and 3 kinds of net wrap – to the rumen, then evaluated the materials after fourteen days.
“After 14 days in the rumen, none of the three types of net wrap or biodegradable twine samples disappeared. A large portion of the hay sample was digested and gone, and more than 70% of the sisal twine disappeared,” Dahlen says. “Biodegradable twine breaks down in UV light, but there is no UV light in the rumen,” he explains. Moisture will not break down the biodegradable twine.
A follow-up study conducted by Dahlen showed net wrap could linger in the rumen for much longer than 2 weeks, and was not easily passed from the digestive system with other feed materials. The undigested wrap can accumulate in the cow’s rumen, causing blockages that can be fatal. To ensure the safety of your herd, remove wrap prior to processing.
- “Bale netting is a cattle hazard.” The Western Producer: 5 June 2014.
- Klein, S.I. and C.R. Dahlen. “Disappearance of net wrap after in situ incubation in forage-fed steers.” North Dakota State University.
- Radke, Amanda. “Should You Be Worried About Cattle Ingesting Net Wrap?” Beef Magazine: 25 Sept 2014.
- Thomas, Heather S. “Why You Must Remove Net Wrap On Round Bales Before Feeding To Cattle.” Beef Magazine: 6 Oct 2014.