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Haylage the facts

We offer a complete service to make silage and haylage from mowing the grass to putting the wrapped bales in a stack.

Why use Haylage
The low moisture content of hay ( about 10% ) means the mould spores become airborne and may cause an allergic respiratory disease called 'Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease' ( COPD ) - commonly known as 'broken wind', 'dust cough' or 'dust allergy'. Up to a fifth of horses suffer from sub-clinical dust allergies.
Once a horse has been affected it will never recover and will always need special attention to minimize exposure to 'dust' in order to control the disease.
The quality, availability, cost and convenience of Haylage feeding is undergoing a radical overhaul as both producers and customers fully appreciate the benefits of this marvelous feed when compared with hay.
Haylage is a feed made from grass that is dried as quickly as possible after mowing.
It is then baled and wrapped with 10 / 12 layers of top quality stretch film.
An inoculant can also be applied to help the fermentation process take place quicker and reduce the risk of waste.

Feeding Haylage
Once a bale has been opened it should be used as quickly as possible as exposing it to air means there is now the potential for moulds to develop.
If you find a bale has gone a bit mouldy it should NOT be used for feeding horses.
Provided the molding is not severe it can still be fed to cattle but if it is very mouldy you should dispose of it.

Changing from hay to haylage
The large intestine contains bacteria to help digest the fibre in feeds. They are very sensitive to changes in the diet so make the switch gradually, say over a week, to allow the bacteria time to adapt. This should prevent stomach upsets.
Haylage contains higher quality nutrients than hay but because of its higher moisture content the nutrients are more diluted.
Remember that the same weight of fresh hay and haylage are not equivalent in term of nutrient value.
  • An average 500 kg horse ( eg. 16hh riding horse) requires a minimum daily fibre input of 1% bodyweight, i.e. 5 kg, but due to the wetter nature of haylage this should be increased to 1.5% or 7.5 kg fresh weight to give a similar dry matter intake.
  • Haylage dry matter has an approx. 10% higher nutrient value so feeding an equivalent amount of dry matter as haylage means that less supplementary feed will be required to meet its energy requirements.
  • A 7.5 kg pile of wet, solid haylage will appear much smaller in volume than 5 kg of light, fluffy hay - take care not to overfeed. Weigh the haylage until you get used to judging it
copyright © Dennis Stocks 2014