Question: Silage vs Hay

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Anonymous

I'm curious - what is the nutritional difference between silage and hay? What's the pros and cons of each?

Not that we're anywhere near ready to put up our own silage, but I'm curious.

Thanks. Lisa

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Anonymous

generally, the fresher a product, the higher it's nutritional value.

with grass it's basically the same: hay has to dry at least 5 days, sillage can only dry for about 24 hours, so less losses due to respiration. the hay is turned over more frequently, which accounts for a higher ash count in hay then in sillage. sillage is usually made of non leristematic grass (not yet in or past the reproductive phase), which means their are more leaves then oares (better digestable) in sillage then in hay. but the most important thing is the losses you get from respiration. they are lmost zero with sillage if you mow in the evening, around the end of april, and you bale it or put it in towers or whatever around the evening the next day.

also sillage tastes better, so the animals will eat more, and hence produce better. sillage is also easier to keep and make then hay: hay must always be dry, sillage can be kept outside al long as it is baled and wrapped. hi quality hay needs 5 dry days, hi quality sillage needs 24 dry hours. their is also less manpower and workinghours involve in making sillage. so nothing but anvantages. no-one in europe still makes hay, except for the alpine farmers, who can't get the machinery for sillage up the mountains.

the last time i made hay was 14 years ago.

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Anonymous

Thanks. Watching our neighbors do both hay and silage had got me to wonderin.

Now, here's my biggest question. What about mold and such? You're putting away a wet material - then covering it so it doesn't dry. How can that be a good thing? It boggles my mind that mold and other things don't grow in the silage, and if it does - doesn't that have a negative effect on the animals?

I guess that's been my biggest question. I know that the hay loses nutritional value depending on how it's cut, when it's cut, how long it's left to dry and all. But I also know that moldy hay isn't a good thing for most animals and some get downright sick from it. So I'm baffled.

Thanks for your quick response. :) I'm learning and I like that.

Lisa

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Anonymous

What kind of silage are you considering? Corn? Haylage? Something else?

How are you going to store it? Silo? Bunk? Bag?

We feed hay and corn silage in the winter. We use a silo and a bag. I vote for the bags!

Mold can be a problem, but it is one that can be managed.
 
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Anonymous

The point in ensiling is to exclude air. There is a different fermentation process when air is exluded. That keeps it from rotting or molding. Also silage odor is a thing that is defintely unique and takes some getting used to.

dun

Thanks. Watching our neighbors do
> both hay and silage had got me to
> wonderin.

> Now, here's my biggest question.
> What about mold and such? You're
> putting away a wet material - then
> covering it so it doesn't dry. How
> can that be a good thing? It
> boggles my mind that mold and
> other things don't grow in the
> silage, and if it does - doesn't
> that have a negative effect on the
> animals?

> I guess that's been my biggest
> question. I know that the hay
> loses nutritional value depending
> on how it's cut, when it's cut,
> how long it's left to dry and all.
> But I also know that moldy hay
> isn't a good thing for most
> animals and some get downright
> sick from it. So I'm baffled.

> Thanks for your quick response. :)
> I'm learning and I like that.

> Lisa
 
OP
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Anonymous

there are mainly two different acids involved in the sillage process. milk and butter acid. you want to have milk acid, and the last thing you want is butter acid, because it smells bad and the animals won't eat it even when 0.2% of it is present in your sillage.

you prevent this by creating an anaerobic environment as fast as possible: as soon as the grass is cut 24 hours, you either bale it and wrap the bales, or put it in a silo, press out the air by driving a minimum of 12 ton bulldozer over it, and then you vocer it with plastic and soil.

the milk acid bacteria produce an environment that stabilises the pH very quickly (within three days) so almost no roting has occurred. a good gras sillage should look almost the same when it comes out of the heap as it did when it went in.

the best way to determine whether you ahve good sillage, is by the smell. if it's a nice smell, it's good sillage. if it stinks like hell, it's bad sillage. and truxt me, your neighbours one mile further wil be able to smel that bad heap.

in general it's easier to make good quality sillage then it is to make good quality hay, because storing is relatively cheap (outside, with plastic and soil on top of it) and it takes less days of favourable wheather. buying sillage is never a good idea, because you cannot open the packs to see what's in them: the aerobic process would be started, and your feed would have to be fed in three days (otherwise the pH becomes favourable again for the butter acid bacteria, which is what makes perfectly good sillage turn bad).

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