Haylage

Currently, we have no haylage available for sale.

Most years, we make both big round and small square haylage from our own land, and have found it to be very popular both with alpacas and the local horse community.  We can deliver it if required.

Big bale haylage Small bale haylage

What is haylage ?

Haylage is a grass fodder, made at the same time as hay, but instead of leaving the cut grass to dry before baling, it is baled a day or so earlier and immediately wrapped in plastic film.  That film serves to exclude oxygen, thus altering the process of bacterial fermentation so that the nutritional value of the crop is better preserved.  Because haylage has a higher moisture content than hay, it is important to appreciate that more of it (by weight) should be fed, in order to ensure an adequate intake of Dry Matter.  It is also true of course, that for the same reason, a bale of haylage weighs more than a same size one of hay.  Here’s a link to a short Wikipedia item on haylage.

Pros and cons of haylage versus hay

Due to the additional step of wrapping each bale, the cost of a bale of haylage is more than that of a bale of hay, but haylage has several significant advantages, including :

  1. For a crop of haylage, the mown grass is left in the field for a shorter time than it would be for hay, thereby reducing the risk of spoilage due to wind and rain.
  2. Once wrapped, there need be no great hurry to take the bales of haylage off the field, whereas with hay, the bales must be stacked and got under cover as quickly as possible to protect them as much as possible from the elements.
  3. Even when a hay stack is under cover, it will still be exposed to the atmosphere for several months during which time the bales around the edge and on top will deteriorate.  Those at the bottom are likely to rot or be otherwise ruined – e.g. by rodents looking for nesting sites and material.
  4. Every time a bale of hay is moved, it will lose some of its volume.
  5. When a bale of hay is opened, it will often be found to contain dust and spores which can cause respiratory problems (certainly in horses).  This can mean that the hay has to be soaked in water before being fed to the animals.  Not only is this an awkward and messy task, but the run-off is a pollutant which should be properly disposed of.
  6. It is necessary to take care when handling haylage to ensure that the plastic wrap is not punctured at any time.  If a puncture is seen quickly it can be taped over, but if it is left then fungi and mould can develop and spread into the bale.
  7. When a bale of haylage is opened it should be used within a few days.  If it cannot be used up in that time, it can be spread out to be allowed to dry, eventually becoming very similar indeed to hay.

Note that we stack our big bales on their ends – that means that there are many many more layers of wrap on the top and bottom surfaces (for better protection from birds), and – just as importantly – they retain their roundness, making them much easier to manoeuvre !

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