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May 23, 2014

Brush up on haylage history

May 23, 2014

Reviewing past year’s setbacks can point to adjustments in management, inoculant choice

 Haylage can present unique ensiling challenges and taking a closer look at your operation’s haylage history helps determine management improvements and inoculant choices to consider this year. Keeping a close eye on your local conditions and silage making history can help produce high quality, stable grass and legume silages, says Renato Schmidt, Ph.D., Technical Services, Forage, with Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

“Legumes and grasses present different challenges than corn, especially as they are forage crops that might have limitations on soluble sugar content, which is the key to starting fermentation,” Dr. Schmidt notes. “Plus you need efficient, specific armies of microbes to produce lactic acid during fermentation to help drop the pH and stabilize the haylage.”

Ensiling haylage successfully takes good management, including the right inoculant choices. The use of an inoculant is not a magic bullet to success, he says. If there are no historical problems with feed stability and bunk life, using an independently proven enzyme-driven homolactic inoculant to control the fermentation and achieve a rapid pH drop should be sufficient.

“Traditional inoculants that contain strains of homolactic bacteria produce only lactic acid and work in the beginning of the fermentation process,” Dr. Schmidt says.

On the other hand, a history of challenges with aerobic stability can indicate that an inoculant containing a combination of unique bacteria should be considered. Typical indicators of likely aerobic stability challenges include:

  • Silage or TMR heating,
  • Aerobic spoilage (e.g. moldy silage patches),
  • High dry matter (35% and above),
  • Field damage due to insects,
  • Hail or frost damage,
  • Fungal disease in the field,
  • Drought stress,
  • Flood exposure,
  • Slow feedout rates, or
  • Silage relocation.


Challenges like these can point to the need for greater stability, and combination inoculants can help address those challenges.

“If you’ve had challenges keeping haylage stable, we recommend a combination inoculant product that has both Lactobacillus buchneri 40788 and homolactic bacteria,” Dr. Schmidt says. “The combination helps jump start fermentation while also providing stability as you feed it out.”

Whether choosing a homolactic or combination inoculant, he recommends producers look at independent research to support the investment. Lallemand has many  forage inoculants have been shown in independent research studies to consistently produce better quality feedstuffs and, therefore, increase production

 ““It comes down to the management practices and inoculant choice that work for your operation,” Dr. Schmidt notes. “Take into account the history of the type of silage you’re making, the climate and management. Then, you can choose the elite special forces that best support your management and overcome your challenges.”