Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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does anyone feed their horses silage like you would the beef or milk cows?  does it hurt the horses at all like too much protein or anything?  any ideas would be appreciated.


Anna WI

i would suggest not feeding it unless it was freshly cut because once it is put into the silo it starts to ferment. I would say leave that type of feed for the cows.


I've heard that haylage is good for heavey and aging horses because it stays moist.  But i could never find any when i had my older gelding.  Is there even such a thing?  And does anyone know if it is indeed good for horses?

I'd be afraid to feed silage, just because the rule of thumb I've heard without backup info is to not feed it.  Since I don't have the backup info, I did a little looking, and found this...

Silage and haylage can be fed to horses, and they provide fiber and bulk. However, these feeds can result in digestive problems because of the possible presence of molds and other toxic substances. Only high quality silage or haylage should be fed to horses. It may take horses some time to become accustomed to the taste of silage or haylage. Up to one half of the horse's hay ration can be replaced with silage. Usually one pound of hay is equivalent to 3 pounds of silage on a dry matter basis.

I also read that it can be more dangerous during drought years, as the stalks accumulate more nitrates.  These nitrates can be toxic at high concentrations, but they can also turn into nitrites, which have worse effects.  So basically, if you're going to feed silage, have it tested.  Here's something else I found regarding corn stalks...

Any suspect feed should be tested for nitrate levels. The most critical factor influencing possible toxicity is rate of nitrogen (N) intake, which is affected by forage dry matter intake over a given time period. Feeding practices that regulate dry matter intake can be used to manage high nitrate (NO3) forages.

When stored forages contain more than 1,000 ppm (parts per million) NO3-N, intakes generally must be managed to avoid elevated methemoglobin levels in the blood and other toxic effects.

Mary H.
I would not feed silage of any sort to horses - ever.  Their digestive systems are so very different from cows and this type of feed is a no no.  We have a mare here who was fed silage as a young horse and developed chronic founder along with Cushings.  Not saying it caused the Cushings but it sure created the founder situation.    We go with senior feed, beet pulp and supplements and we will add corn oil if the horse is very thin.  I know the alfalfa cubes are good but I detest working with it.  All the soaking and messing and you still can have chunks in there that cause choke.  Grrrrr - ok - you get the point on that!
Just kind of a sidenote since alfalfa cubes were brought up....they do make alfalfa and hay pellets that soak so much easier than the cubes, as well as just the dry almost powder-like that you just add water to. 
I also would never feed sileage or anything of the like to horses...too risky and dangerous. 

Good to know!

Wendy W - WI
I wouldn't feed it either.  Here is something else I found.

Mycotoxins have long been a concern to livestock producers when environmental conditions during the growing season were conducive to mold growth on the field crop. Mycotoxins are now more frequently being associated with crops like corn silage that include not just grain but a high percentage of stalks and stover. Recently, mycotoxins in corn silage have been identified with dairy herd health problems during years with near ideal growing conditions and record corn yields. A sensory inspection of the silage indicated no visible mold, a good smell, and from all indications top management from field to storage (i.e. proper moisture, well packed, etc.). These situations were frustrating for both the producer and those in the industry who were trying to find some answers. Unfortunately, there are still more questions than answers and a need for more research that is both time consuming and costly.
The whole article can be read here:  http://www.uwex.edu/ces/crops/uwforage/Mycotoxins.htm
Tammy Mn

Someone mentioned to me trying Baylege (spelling)  is this the same as haylege? 

Did a quick check....

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For the Christian Alternative band, please see Silage (band)
Silage (hay) somewhere in Allschwil or Schönenbuch, near Basel, Switzerland.
Silage (hay) somewhere in Allschwil or Schönenbuch, near Basel, Switzerland.

Silage is fermented, high-moisture forage that can be fed to ruminants (cud-chewing animals like cattle and sheep.)[1] It is fermented and stored in a process called ensilage, and usually made from grass crops, including maize or sorghum, using the entire plant, not just the grain. Silage can be made from many other field crops, and other terms (oatlage for oats, haylage for alfalfa) can be used.

It is sometimes a mix of two crops, such as oats and peas. Haylage means ensiled forages, made up of grass, alfalfa and alfalfa/grass mixes. This is used extensively in the Midwest and Northeastern areas of the United States. It is also used widely in Europe for dairy cattle diets.

Baylage is another form of stored forage. In this case hay, alfalfa or grass is cut and baled while still fairly wet. That is, it is too wet to be baled and stored as hay. In this case the dry matter is around 60 to 70%. The bales are wrapped tightly in plastic wrappers. The material then goes through a limited fermentation in which short chain fatty acids are produced which protect and preserve the forage. This method has become popular on smaller farms.

Tammy Mn

Thanks for the info Karen, the baylige still makes me a little nervous.

thanks everyone for your answers 
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