Is haylage an option after wet weather?

Haylage is an option for farmers who might not have managed to bale hay during the past week’s favourable weather.

That is according to Teagasc Drystock Advisor Hugh Mahon, who said there is a small number of people making haylage.

For anyone who might not be familiar with haylage, it is grass that has been cut and allowed to wilt and dry up to a certain point before being baled and wrapped with plastic.

Haylage is 55-60% DM, compared to silage, which is 25-30% DM.

The crop might be either deliberately produced or made because the hay crop was not baled before wet weather.

Mahon said that most people have made their hay by now. In fact, some people have made too much and there is the option of selling later on in the year when the price rises.

“It is important to plan for hay. In the event that the weather turns foul during haymaking, haylage is a real option for saving the valuable feed,” Mahon said.

‘Straightforward procedure’

Mahon added that once baled, six rounds of plastic wrap should be applied within two hours of baling. This ensures fermentation occurs. Good, dense bales are also necessary for proper fermentation.

Mahon warned of the consequences of haylage that is too dry – fermentation will be reduced.

A pH of 4.5 is ideal for fermentation to occur.

‘Feed quality indifference’

When asked about a possible difference in feed quality between silage and haylage, Mahon replied: “There is no difference. Feed quality is controlled through sward management.

“If a grass sward was grazed and closed in April, and cut in late-May, haylage can be just as good as silage in terms of feeding quality,” Mahon said.

Horse owners, in particular, like to make haylage. Teagasc Regional Manager Donal Mullane said: “The reason for this is because there is more certainty to it’s quality. It is a palatable feed.”

Silage and haylage prices

According to DoneDeal.ie, silage bales are currently being sold for €20/bale. Baling was carried out on Friday, June 23, in Co. Kilkenny.

Haylage is €5 more expensive at €25/bale in Wexford. This was baled and wrapped on the same day as the silage.

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