There are times when high quality high just isn’t in the cards. In fact, sometimes the weather makes even attaining low quality hay nearly impossible. It’s times like these that some farmers choose to turn too-wet hay into silage or haylage. The downside there, however, is that quality has already been lost — had you planned for silage at the outset, you could have maintained a high quality feed, good yield and missed the bad weather.
All that said, silage is a more pricey project than haying, and some farmers simply haven’t done the research to get set up with the feed stock. Ray Bittner, rancher and farm production advisor with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, would like to change some farmers’ minds about silage. “Yes, it costs more per acre to do (vs hay), but if done right, it can actually decrease your overall ration cost,” Bittner says. What’s more, the flexibility of harvesting at high moisture means fewer weathering losses and the decreased wheel traffic bumps yields over hay production.
In this interview, Bittner outlines what farmers should consider if moving to a silage operation, what temperature ranges to avoid and offers some advice on making the highest quality silage possible.
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