Feeding big round bales can be an efficient way to feed your cow herd this winter, but cows eating big bales often lead to a muddy mess after a couple of days tromping around the same area. When cows continuously come to the same spot to eat, forage on that surface is damaged for some time afterwards.

Jim Gerrish, forage specialist at the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center in Lennius, Mo., says producers can reduce waste and reduce mud by reducing bale size. Approximately 12 to 15 cows can feed from a round bale ring at a time. And it takes those 12 to 15 cows up to three days to clean up the consumable forage in each bale. Mr. Gerrish reduced the standard big round bale size from 6-feet by 5-feet to a smaller 5-feet by 5-feet bale. He found that the smaller bale size allowed the same number of cows to clean up a single bale in only two days. Then by feeding the next bale at a different location time spent in the mud is reduced.