Switching to haylage??
My BO has decided to switch from grass hay to haylage sometime next year. I don't know anything about haylage, and would like everyone's opinions on anything having to due with it. I just want to get as much information on it as possible before my boy starts eating it. Does it have more nutritional value? What are the hazards of feeding it (I've heard of botulism??)? How do you store it? Etc.
Thanks for your help!
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Haylage is made from the same thing as regular hay, except it's cut and baled without allowing the grass to dry first. Once it's baled, it's wrapped in polythene to keep in the moisture and allow for some fermentation.
If it has mold in it could very well cause botulism, but then, so can regular hay. Rule of thumb is if it looks and smells moldy, don't feed it.
It is said to have more nutritional value. I used to feed it in Germany because it was easy to find in roundbales straight from the producer.
I also fed the small square bales. It takes some getting used to the smell, tho. Horses love it!
BUT....it needs to be stored right, covered well, so the plastic wrapping doesn't get punctured by birds or the hunting kittie. Once air enters it spoils very rapidly. Means big round bales only when there are several horses who consume a bale in about 4 days. Same for the small bales. The botulism risk is there, sometimes a dead mouse accidently baled in is enough.
It takes a lot of watching when feeding it. Any damaged wrapping or little hole, and that bale is unsafe.
I stay away from it. Unless I have a COPD horse. Im worrying enough as it is. Don't need the extra excitement;-)
I've never thought to feed it desert, but you make some really good points about the risks if the plastic wrapping gets punctured.
I think it might be easier just to feed regular hay soaked down with water for a COPD horse.
We fed it when we lived in one area where darling little vandals used to travel for miles to set fire to hay. We had it made off out own land, it has to be cut higher than for hay to avoid getting soil into the bales and you have to be really careful of the wrapped bales getting punctured and wet, the heat from the bale itself can then set off mould and botulism.
It will get a whiteish substance on it that is part of the natural fermentation process but thats harmless - it shouldn't be grey, black or pink or smell bad
We never had problems feeding it to the brood mares and youngsters or to the horses in hard work but I would advise caution for anything thats either not ridden or in light work especially if they are an easy keeper and/or prone to laminitis - they will gain weight more easily on it and as its higher in sugars than average hay might fizz some horses up too if they are already a bit that way inclined
You could reduce the amount of what I call 'bucket feed' if you feed quality haylage
Its not something I would be feeding the horses I have now as they just dont do enough in the winter months to justify it and I have one that I swear would maintain weight fed on baler twine and the bags the feed come in.
I have one of those myself jaydee, so I hear ya!
I am blessed with one who looks at anything edible and gains..........just like me;-)
We must have crawled out of the same gene pool then as I need someone to invent a food that tastes really good but has all the calories of a cardboard box.
I get these diet sheets and the meals add up to more than I already eat so how does that work?
I bet we would gain on straight cardboard, too;-)
My mom used to say, gotta live on air and love......if that would work........hmmm:-)
Thanks for the info everyone. The bale would be split between 5 horses, so it should go pretty quick. Is there a shot to protect against botulism? I love the more nutritional aspect. Our hay here sucks! Tried to buy a bale of alfalfa, and apparently you can't buy it this year around here. He said the guys refuse to ship it in from out of province because gas prices are so high. I hate this hay shortage thing! Its driving the economy way down. My feed alone has gone from $23 this spring to $32 a bag now. It seems to increase in price every week. I shudder to think that its going to cost come winter.
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