The Importance of Hay and Forage Preservation

Harvest and storage losses for hay and silage can represent a significant source of economic loss. After all, preserving home-grown forages reduces the cost of buying extra feed. In addition, preservation of forage quality is the foundation of a good livestock nutrition program. Quality roughage should contain the maximum digestible energy and protein available to meet the needs of high producing livestock. Several factors can reduce an ideal forage into an average or fair forage. One of the most frustrating factors resulting in downgraded hay quality are mold and microbes (e.g., fungi and wild yeast).

Before hay and forage are harvested or baled, the addition of preservative products almost always result in a good return to a producer's investment. Silage inoculants help economically enhance fermentation when crops are harvested with an ideal moisture concentration. Acid-based preservatives for hay, haylage or silage will reduce losses from molds, bacteria and fungi, especially when the forage is not harvested at the ideal moisture levels. Excessive microbial growth can cause hay bale heating, increasing dry matter loss and producing Maillard reactions, which reduce dry matter and crude protein digestibility. To combat these issues, Kemin has worked to create several effective preservatives for high moisture forage such as, organic acid preservatives for hay and inoculants and organic acid blends to inhibit microbial growth in silage.

Preservatives for High Moisture Forage

Baling hay at higher moisture levels reduces leaf loss and field curing time. By retaining the protein-rich leaves, producers harvest more protein per acre. Reducing field curing time allows for earlier hay regrowth, and this regrowth is less subject to damage by equipment. Earlier baling allows quicker irrigation so the next harvest can begin sooner. However, in order to bale hay at moisture levels above 15 percent, treatments are recommended to prevent deterioration and heating during storage.

FRESH CUT® Plus Liquid contains a blend of surfactants, antioxidants and organic acid preservatives for hay. This organic acid combination is primarily effective against mold and wild yeast growth. The surfactant helps the acid penetrate the stem of alfalfa and grass hay to improve product performance. FRESH CUT Plus also includes a buffer to reduce metal corrosion and increase worker safety. Incorporating this liquid formulation will provide easy distribution, dispersion and penetration into hay.

Silage SAVOR® Plus Liquid and Silage SAVOR® Dry are a unique, premium blend of organic acids formulated to enhance silage fermentation. Silage SAVOR Plus Liquid is a concentrated blend of three organic acids offering a wide spectrum of control against organisms found in all silage types. Silage SAVOR Dry is a convenient, dry product designed to assist in the fermentation of silages by providing an environment that is optimal for epiphytic lactic acid-producing bacteria to grow. The dry and liquid forms of Silage SAVOR create favorable fermentation, resulting in a rapid drop in pH to provide a stable silage. Additionally, each can be used on forage crops and high moisture corn to promote more uniform fermentation to help maintain nutrient value by reducing heating and dry matter loss. 

Inoculants for Forage Preservation

Kem LAC® HD is a water-soluble mixture of three lactic acid-producing organisms to be used in a wide variety of forages chopped for ensiling. This high-density (HD) inoculant blend provides more bacteria per gram than other products available on the market and can help speed fermentation. By producing a high level of lactic acid, the use of Kem LAC HD quickly lowers silage pH and aids in preservation of the crop. Kem LAC HD works in a wide variety of forages including corn, wheat, sorghum and alfalfa silage to help reduce dry matter loss and preserve nutrient availability. Kem LAC HD also controls silage temperatures from within the silo, while helping to reduce dry matter loss and shrinkage.

Kem LAC® LB 500 is a microbial inoculant that increases aerobic stability of ensiled crops with a mixture of two bacterial strains, Lactobacillus buchneri (LB) and Lactobacillus plantarum. These two bacterial strains working together help speed fermentation while producing lactic and acetic acid. Acetic acid has been shown to help enhance the aerobic stability of silage during feed-out. This product also provides excellent nutrient retention, improved production efficiency and a rapid pH drop to stabilize forage. All of these improvements to fermentation may help reduce feed waste.

Kemin—Improving Forage Production

Kemin is a global ingredient manufacturer providing local, innovative nutritional and health solutions for a changing world. We act in partnership with producers, feed manufacturers and feed dealers to create preservatives for forages meeting their needs and expectations, while achieving mutually profitable results. All Kemin products are created using thoroughly-tested raw materials and certified processes to ensure quality for our customers and their businesses.

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