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  1. #1
    Veteran
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    west sussex
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    2,132

    Default The difference between hay and haylage

    So, hoping for some advice, my mare has hay, and went completely doolalley on haylage, the yard I am at now include hay and haylage, they do have some hay, but more haylage.
    The yo bales it himself, and he just makes it like hay, then wraps it up to store it. When you look at it, it is like hay, smells like hay etc.
    just wondering, which part of the process increases the sugar......
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Sport horse
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    220

    Default Re: The difference between hay and haylage

    I've wondered this myself. The yard I'm on used to use haylage that was quite green and smelt amazing - incredibly sweet. They then changed to another haylage that just seems like normal hay wrapped up. Neither seems to make a difference to my horse though, he's still a lazy plod.

  3. #3
    Old nag
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Shropshire
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    6,563

    Default Re: The difference between hay and haylage

    I think it is that haylage is more like raw grass, but preserved anaerobically, even though it has had time drying before it is baled. Hay goes through changes, it is drier when it is baled so some of the nutrition you would find in fresh grass has changed, and it does mature in the bale, you will smell an aniseedy type smell for the first few weeks. Not sure whether it is sugars or other elements but it does change.

  4. #4
    Old nag
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    Mar 2010
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    dorset
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    Default Re: The difference between hay and haylage

    Some one will explain it better than me but I will have a go. It is not an increase of sugar more the process decreases sugar. Sugar is affected by type of grass, time of day it is cut, how long it wilts, age of grass. So an older grass cut early in the morning and wilted a long time to make hay will have less sugar than a young grass cut midday and short wilt to make silage or haylage.
    You can have haylage that is almost hay and also very rich haylage trouble is you do not know till you open it. I would say the stuff your yard makes should be lovely for horses as he is really just making hay but wrapping for easy storage.

  5. #5

    Default Re: The difference between hay and haylage

    Hay loses its nutritional value over time, hence why people used to use last years hay for laminitics. Haylage better preserves all the nutrients from the time of wrapping.
    The type of grass makes a huge difference, often Haylage is made from just ryegrass, which is very rich in sugars.
    If your yard is making meadow hay and meadow Haylage, there shouldn't be much difference between the nutritional values but as Haylage is more palatable and easier to eat your horse might be scoffing more. I've never found my horses hot up on meadow Haylage but they will on the wet ryegrass type.

  6. #6
    Schoolmaster
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    549

    Default Re: The difference between hay and haylage

    Actually, sugar doesn't increase in either hay or haylage. Grass creates sugars so long as it is moist and the sun is shining, so the grass may still create and store sugars for a brief while after it's been cut and before it has dried out too much (i.e. while lying in the field and wilting). But after this, no more sugar is created. In hay, the sugar is preserved as is (no reduction), and in fact, storing the hay for longer doesn't mean it looses sugar! Other nutrients (mainly vitamins, some fatty acids) degrade, but for all intents and purposes, sugars and "calories" stay the same. So, old hay is not necessarily better for laminitics.
    In haylage, the fermentation process converts sugars into volatile fatty acids (a different type of energy for horses to digest), so sugar levels decrease in haylage and are often lower in the end than in hay, but that depends of course on how much sugar you started with in the first place! The amount of moisture in the haylage is important for how efficient the fermentation is. If the haylage is very dry, then fermentation may not be very efficient and some sugars may be left (more like hay). You don't really know unless you test.
    There's a lot of good info on sugars in grass/hay/haylage on www.safergrass.org.

  7. #7
    Old nag ycbm's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
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    10,136

    Default Re: The difference between hay and haylage

    Calorie content does not reduce in old hay, only the vitamins. There is a misconception that it's safer feeding old hay to laminitics than new hay. I researched this when deciding whether to soak some three year old wrapped hay that I am currently feeding. I was hoping not to have to, but no such luck!

  8. #8
    Veteran
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    Jul 2005
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    Malton, N yorkshire
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    Default Re: The difference between hay and haylage

    Meadow hay should have a wide variety of grasses, whereas most hay/haulage will just be one or two.
    We grow our own meadow hay. It has 27 varieties of grasses, herbs etc, some of which were hand picked/planted.

  9. #9
    Old nag
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    Nov 2004
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    Shropshire
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    Default Re: The difference between hay and haylage

    My sharp horse actually does much better on haylage. I switched him to it this winter just gone from hay the winter before. I also stopped giving hard feed, in any way, shape or form. He had just haylage, grass in the field and work. He was more settled, happier in his work, looked incredible at the end of winter (he usually comes out of winter looking like he's done a season's hard hunting despite hay and loads of hard feed!). I fed no supplements - his coat and feet were the best they've ever been. He can be quite a tricky horse as he's sharp, reactive and gets very silly over nothing then can't come back down to earth. He was still sharp because that's his nature but he was much more able to cope with life in general.

    So in his case, he gets on really well with haylage. It just seems he can't cope with hard feed (and he was getting a fairly plain low sugar, high fibre feed so nothing in there that should theoretically hot him up).
    Don't discount it - try it first. The haylage I had was really good. Very dry for haylage, fresh smelling and great quality. I won't feed very wet, green looking haylage.

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