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3999 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  cdny4
Hi All,

Back in the Country, retired, after 37 yrs. in the city.
I have a few questions, please.

What is "Hayledge"/"Hayladge"?

What are it's advantages, over other feeds?

Is it good for Horses, sheep & goats, as well as Cattle?

How is it made?

How is it stored?

How do you feed it?

What's the feed-value?

Is it Better'n Hay?

What are the odds, I could get a neighbor to "put-it-up", for me, for shares?
Thanks, just somethin' new to me
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John, haylage is fermented hay, like silage, only made with hay. Good for cattle, but I wouldn't recomend it for anything else, you also would incure considerable storage expenses unless there was someone near you who has a baler that can wrap it. I would recomend sticking with hay.
the advantage of haylage is that you don't have to cure the hay. no waiting for dry weather. you can also get your hay field done waiting to rake and bale.

feeding to horses and goats seems controversial. i feed corn silage to horses and goats with no problem.

to make haylage you can cut and bale regular sized hay and then plastic wrap it. you can also chop it up and blow it into bags or put it up in a silo. i've heard of folks simply making piles of hay, compacting it and covering with a tarp. i think that method would be an art and would require some good experience to get it right.

it is stored in whatever you make it in. the less air that can get to it, the better. if your storage is not adequate, it will not ferment properly and you can end up with a moldy mess unsuitable to feed to anything.

how you feed depends on how it is stored. usually, once you open it up, you need to keep feeding everyday until it is gone. otherwise the exposed surface will rot and that rot will spread through out the whole thing.

feed value depends on what you cut, when you cut, how well it ferments and stores. you can get it tested going in and then when you start feeing as well. the quality can vary throughout though so how it tests at the start of a bag or silo, is not necessarily going to be the same at the end.

it might be better than hay depending on what you have and what you are doing. in very rainy areas it might be better because it might be too hard to get a good hay crop done. if you have no storage for hay and want high quality feed, you might be better off with haylage if you can store that.

if your neighbors have the equipment and you have some quality fields you might have some luck getting someone to do it. i sure wouldn't be able to around here.

i fill my silo with corn silage each year. i could do haylage instead. i'm sure i would pay the same price, though i don't know if a corn chopper can also chop hay (my guess is not).....$6.50 a ton for chopping and blowing it in. i also pay for all the fuel and labor (we use about 4 tractor drivers to get it done).

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Haylage works fine for sheep but any spoilage increases the risk of Listeria. If your getting it round baled ask if it will be inoculated (Pioneer sells silabac) to promote correct fermentation. It really does help. You can get it wrapped and it's very effective if not baled too wet, or you can make small stacks and cover it with black plastic, with the edges buried to seal it air tight. You do have to check any plastic wrapping for air leaking tears and seal them with a good quality plastic tape. All silage has a higher TDN than dried feed but it has to be made and stored right. Idealy an air tight upright silo is best and wrapped round bales likely a close second.
You folks may be confusing grass haylage with grass silage. Grass silage is put up fresh chopped - like corn. Haylage is dry down some before being processed. With the lower moisture content it doesn't need as much airtight storage as silage. Normally haylage is done with legumes, such as alfalfa.

From Beef Cattle Science by Ensminger, 1968 edition: "Tests to date have shown that haylage, which generally contains about 40 percent moisture, is an excellent feed for finishing cattle. More research is needed, but indications are that costs of gains may be a little higher than for corn silage. A fairly accurate rule of thumb is that it takes 1.5 pounds of 40 percent moisture haylage to equal one pound of hay."

Ken S. in WC TN
Sorry to disagree Ken. I don't know anyone who puts up fresh cut chopped grass or legumes as silage. Dosen't mean it won't work or doesn't happen, and I'd be interested to read any info you had on the topic. Haylage is ensiled forage of any type stored in any method at 35% moisture, and it is because of the lower moisture that it must be kept air tight. Corn silage can be ensiled on the ground uncovered if well compressed because of it's higher moisture. The top spoils but due to the weight, holds in place and acts as the air tight seal for the rest of the stack. Forages would dry on the top and blow off exposing the feed under to spoilage. If high moisture grass or legumes were sealed the moisture seepage would be enormous, breaking the seal. All silage should be harvested at 35-40% moisture so there is some aair in the pile/stack/bale/silo. This air allows aroebic digestion to start, (spoilage) which changes the PH of the crop using the byproduced, butric acid. Once the air is used up the PH will be correct for anaroebic bacteria (the inoculent if used) to start working producing lactic acid, preserving the feed. If air gets in the dormant butric acid producing bacteria can grow again spoiling the feed. There is a hay harvesting system which is mostly grass hay dried with the same bacterial inolculant used to make livestock feed silage. A few use propeonic acid too. This stuff is ending up as stored feed running 16-18% moisture although it is harvested at 20-25%. That stuff does not need to be stored air tight.
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Dairy farmers here at one time chopped their hay as it was cut chopped and blown into the wagon by the same machine. It was called grass silage. It was stored in either upright or bunker silos. The bunker silos used a heavy tractor running back and forth on top the stack continualy to press out the air the same as they done with corn silage. They were doing this before haylage was a consideration. With the use of glass lined silos it was found that chopped hay could be stored with a lower moisture content than grass silage, and it made a much better feed. Soon the farmers were putting haylage into there concrete upright silos. To harvest haylage for bulk storage in silos or the long loaf type bags, it needs to be chopped to run through the augers and blowers used to handle it. The hay is mowed and and left in windrows on the ground for a day or so until the moisture content gets down enough. From the windrows it is chopped and stored. It has been getting more common for the the haylage to be rolled into round bales instead of being chopped. The haylage bales are put on a wrapping trailer that tightly wraps plastic around the bale as the rollers turn the bale so it is tightly wrapped on all sides. These can be stored outside and fed one at a time as needed. These are popular with the smaller farmers who can't justify the expense the goes with silos and the equipment to fill them and feed out of them.
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I've never done the direct cut grass silage myself but I have read about it in the Grassfarmer and several graziers in SE MN were experimenting with it. They were using a flail chopper, dumping it in piles, covering with plastic and then using a vacuum pump to remove the air. The people that I know that have tried it found it too time consuming. The flail choppers available didntn' have the capacity to cover a large amount of acres. Here's an article that explains the process:

Ross, I think you are talking about dry matter percentage rather than percentage of moisture. seepage.htm

I've put up a few thousand round bales as baleage/haylage/silage. We started out with an Vermeer individual wrapper and went very quickly to a Tubeline inline wrapper. We've baled from 40% moisture to 75% moisture but tried to shoot for 50%. When you get up to 75% and higher the bales get slimy and have a 'pickle' smell to them but the cows still loved it. The nice thing about baleage was there was NO waste, the cows licked it up like candy.

John, the main advantage in my opinion of haylage is being able to get the hay put up without getting it spoiled by rain. But, you will have to get set up to handle it. If you have a silo that may be an option. The downside to silos are maintaining a silo unloader and, if you are in the frozen north, the haylage will freeze to the walls during cold spells and you have to chip it off, great fun at -30F.

You could put it in a pile. The downside to a pile is there will be more spoilage, when you start feeding it you have to use enough off the face every day to keep it from spoiling, and if it gets cold it can freeze too solid to feed. If you don't have a good solid pad to put the pile on mud can also be a problem. Like said above you have to be careful of the plastic covering to make sure it doesn't get holes in it.

Baleage, or wrapping round or square bales in plastic is another way to go. The downsides are plastic costs and disposal, and make sure you don't make the bales too large, the higher the moisture the heavier they are! We were makeing 4x4 rounds and when the moisture got up to 70% it would make the rear end of our loader float, it's rated at 2000lb lift. A neighbor put up some 4x5 rounds as an experiment and couldn't pick them up with his JD 4020.
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Question I should have asked is how much are you talking about? Answer would be totally difference for one milk cow or 100 feeder steers.

At one time I had a Hay Wrap machine. Fit on the back of my Ford 4000. Neighbors put up the large round bales at the time and I had to put on 250 pounds of weight on the front of the tractor to keep it on the ground. Regular cut hay was wrapped with plastic on the sides and a bit over the ends. Cost was about $3.00 per bale for wrap and depreciation. What I noticed with it was, when set out, the cattle would eat anywhere they could get to. Very little wastage. With regular unwrapped bales, they go from the ends inside.

Wrap was not biodegradable. After being cut off with the bale in the air I would pack them into a garbage bag in a metal can. When full it went to the trash collection center.

You can use a Hay Wrap to make haylage. One bale is sealed at the end and set down to start a row. Next is wrapped as normal and jammed up against the first one, sealing it in the row. This is continued with the last bale sealed on the outside end. Basically you could put up haylage in a day. Cut as soon as the dew if off. By the time you finish cutting a field, went back to the barn to put on the windrower, fooled around a bit, windrowed, went back to the barn to put on the baler, fooled around a bit, material may have dried down enough to start rolling. Once rolled, you put on the wrap. Technically, one person with one suitable-sized tractor, should be able to put up ten or more acres of haylage a day. I didn't try this.

I sold the equipment after my neighbor when to the smaller, tighter bales. The spear on the Hay Wrap was too large to penetrate these bales. It kept knocking them over. I had to put them down by a tree, then ram the spear into them. Became too cumbersome of a process with only one tractor without a front end loader-spear option. I spoke with Hay Wrap about the problem and they said they could custom build a machine for me, but couldn't retrofit the one I had. I advised them it was for sale if they knew someone. Afterwards I talked to the local welding shop about cutting off the large spear and replacing it with a smaller one. Rained the morning I was to take it there and before noon I got a call asking if it was still for sale.

I don't have Hay Wrap's number handy, but you frequently see their ad in farming magazines.

Grass silage goes back to at least the 40s. Louis Bromfield was a fan of it. Read his Malabar Farm series of books.

Ken S. in WC TN
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we feed hay silage and corn dileage mixed with dry hay and oats-mixer wagon does the load.
chopper has a corn head and a hay head, but the hay has to be on the ground already, so add the haybine. we have a new idea, 1976-cost about 15000 a few years ago, new are running 300k, parts are getting hard to find for the old one, so lots of welding
if you aren't feeding a lot, the piles will have a lot of spoilage, so it may not be economical, use the bags. we're feeding 60 head right now. All we do is pile it and pack it on a cement pad. also feeds well on a flat wagon if your pasture is wet like ours is right now.
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