What to feed a flock during a drought

During the grazing season, in case of drought, feed prices always rise sharply. In addition, often the farmer is not able to buy good quality hay at all during such periods. That is why it is important to plan a feeding program not only for the winter period, when grazing is not possible, but also taking into account possible drought. Then your flock will survive this difficult period without losses.

There are several options for storing exstuff. Hay is the most popular option and is quite easy to prepare and store. But you can also prepare haylage and silage. All this will be discussed further in thetra feed article.


Hay provides animals with essential nutrients at a fraction of the cost compared to other types of feed stuff. It is important to cut plants at the correct stage of growth, pack them at acceptable humidity levels, and store them properly. All this will ensure the best quality and nutritional value of such food stuff. We recommend using Polypak net bale wrap for hay baling.

If you decide to buy hay, be sure to check the shape, density and weight of the bale, the condition of the feed stuff, the presence of potentially toxic compounds (nitrates, hydrocyanic acid), and the nutrient content.

When storing wrapped hay bales, follow the recommendations we’ve given in this article. Then you will retain maximum nutrition in each bale. If storage conditions are maintained correctly, the storage period can be very long and provide your herds with quality feed during periods of drought or winter.

It is better to feed hay using ring, bunk or manger. This will keep losses to a minimum. It is also important to strictly dose the feed stuff and not keep it constantly available. If animals trample the hay, urinate and defecate in it, it becomes unsuitable for feeding. As a result, the farmer simply loses the money spent on purchasing or storing hay.



Haylage, or round bale silage wrapped in a stretch film, is another option for storing feed stuff for dry periods. Unlike wrapped hay bales, haylage contains more moisture and is stored securely in plastic film. It is due to the lack of air access that the feed stuff is fermented and preserved.

Usually, silage is more nutritionally valuable than hay, even when harvested from the same grass at the same stage of maturity. This is due to the fact that during drying the hay loses some of its nutrients.

Haylage is more suitable for those farms where high quality feed stuff is needed, for example, for newly calved cows.

Haylage preparing is less dependent on weather conditions than hay preparing. However, its cost is higher per bale.

Compared to silage in traditional silage pits, haylage spoils more often, since it is more difficult to monitor the integrity of the coating. Birds, rodents and animals can puncture plastic film. This problem must be detected and corrected in a timely manner. In addition, the disadvantages of this method of storing feed stuff include the need to dispose of used agrostretch.

Successful storage of haylage in bales largely depends on a number of factors:

  • You need to carefully select and prepare the storage area.
  • Protect bales from rodents and other pests.
  • Avoid large temperature fluctuations.
  • Do not cover bales.

These are just some of the recommendations for storing haylage in bales. We won’t write more about this in this article, but you can read the recommendations for wrapped hay bales and adapt them to haylage in a stertch film.

When feeding haylage to animals, it is better to use regular feed rings. Given the high cost, it is completely impractical to use open access feeding. Indeed, in this case, losses can reach up to 50 %, which is extremely wasteful.



Most often, corn or sorghum is harvested as silage. Typically, farmers grow these crops themselves and have silage pits or trenches, since this type of feed stuff is too expensive and inconvenient to transport. But if a silo or trench does not yet exist, then its construction may become a limiting factor for starting to use this method of storing feed stuff.

To work with silage, special equipment is needed to move it from the silage pit to the pasture to the feeders. Silage cannot be stored on the ground.

Since silage is more nutritious and high in calories, it requires less than hay when feeding.

Each farm chooses what type of storage and feed stuff to prepare in case of drought on its own, based on the available capabilities. We recommend combining at least two methods, and for hay baling or pre-baling of haylage using the Polypak net bale wraps.