Hay, beleage orhaylage: pros, cons, features

Most farmers prepare feedstuff for the winter in one familiar way and do not think about any other alternatives. Now production costs and maintenance costs have increased so much that it is imperative to consider all options and choose the most suitable for the farm. Better yet, combine several at once to increase productivity.

Comparison of hay, beleage and haylage

Before baling, hay is usually dried to a moisture content of 15 %. This way it will be stored for a long time without mold developing. For haylage, the optimal humidity is 60-65 %. For storage, special stacks or bunkers are used, in some cases (and this technology is being used more and more often) in polymer sleeves. Such storage allows you to preserve feedstuff. This occurs due to their natural acidity and in the absence of constant access to oxygen. Beleage or haylage in agrostretch film is packaged at a wider range of humidity – from 25 to 65 %, depending on the feedstuff and feeding plan.

Among the options of the feedstuff described above, hay is of course the cheapest. Haylage requires more collection and storage costs, but at the same time has a higher nutritional energy value. Beleage is closer in quality to haylage, and the cost of its packaging depends directly on what equipment the farmer already has and what he will need to buy or rent.

When harvesting for haylage and packing into bales, the feedstuff is removed from the field faster. The hay is left there to dry for several days. Thus, when harvesting forage into bales, the chance increases that the yield from the same area will be higher, since there is more time and prerequisites for the growth of new grasses.

The advantage of hay is the absence of high costs for equipment, storage and even transportation. But there is a risk that when the field dries out, it will start to rain, which will delay harvesting for several more days. An additional negative factor is the shading of areas by drying windrows and a decrease in grass yields because of this. Also, the yield will be reduced due to the movement of the wheels of the harvesting equipment. And when collecting hay directly, leaves are lost during raking and pressing, which also reduces the value of the feedstuff in the future. This, together with its low nutritional value, makes hay not as profitable food for the winter as it might seem at first glance.

Tips for increasing hay yield and quality

To increase the yield and quality of hay:

  • Mow with a wide cut.
  • This will reduce drying time in the field by at least 1 day.
  • Rake the hay with a little dew.
  • Add a preservative to better preserve the leaves and increase the energy value and protein in the composition.
  • Harvest some of the hay when the moisture content is between 18 and 20 %.
  • Condition the hay using a properly adjusted conditioner.

These tips will also allow forage to be removed from the field more quickly to reduce risks from rain. This will also increase productivity.

Haylage and beleage

Haylage and beleage contain more protein and energy than hay, as the leaves are better preserved during harvesting. They contain more highly digestible dry matter and other organic matter, due in part to higher moisture content and faster wetting in the rumen.

Harvesting feedstuff into haylage and bales occurs faster, which speeds up the subsequent regrowth of grasses for the next cutting. It also reduces the risks associated with adverse weather conditions.

Haylage may be too expensive an option for many farms due to the need to purchase additional equipment and prepare a storage area. In this case, beleage will be a more affordable alternative for preserving certain types of feedstuff. Because bale net wrapping equipment is cheaper. In general, you can form bales with the baler you already have and pack them in a bale net wrap, then hire someone to wrap the finished bales in agrostretch film.

The disadvantage of baling is that the entire process must be completed within the first 24 hours after cutting. It is during this period that the highest quality feedstuff is obtained with minimal heating.

When transporting bales in stretch films, you need to use additional equipment, and not the usual spear available on all farms. But if you wrap it in a long pipe, you can get by with a standard one, which will be used for feeding.

For all their difficulties and higher cost, beleage and haylage are of higher quality than hay. And this gives a greater increase.

They also have the potential to yield more feed from the same field area due to faster harvesting.

Most often, beleage is prepared for horses and livestock farms. The feedstuff is ideal for those animals that have a high need for energy and nutrients: young, pregnant, lactating and elderly. But such feedstuff is not suitable for animals prone to weight gain or with metabolic disorders.

It is advisable for each farmer to better work out the diet for his animals and think about what types of feedstuff to prepare and use to monitor the health of the herd and maximize profits. Polypak is ready to support farmers around the world with its high-quality bale net wraps. You can simply store these bales in the field!