Hay making
“Hay -refers to cereals, grasses or legumes that are harvested at appropriate stage, dried and stored”

  • High quality hay is light grey color
  • Leafy, pliable & free from mustiness
  • Easy method of storing seasonal excess
    • Only way for farm by-products
  • Principle is to reduce water content
  • Legume, non-legume & mixed gay are the major three types

Field method

  • In field there are two methods
    • Windrows – occupies 1/3rd land area
    • Swath – Entire field
  • Drying in ‘Windrows’ faster than swath
  • For this, harvest few hrs after dew drying
  • Allowed to cure in the field itself
    • Turned after every 4-5 hrs
    • By the evening moisture reduced (75% to 40%)
    • Next day requires 1 or 2 turnings
    • Moisture content in the 2nd day comes to 25%
    • Now ready for storage as bales or in tripod stand
    • End of curing moisture to be reduced to 20%
    • Normally 70-75 sunshine hrs require
  • Not suitable for rainy season

Mechanical method

  • Fence method – wire fencing with angle iron posts are used
    • More suitable for berseem, Lucerne, groundnut haulms and legume fodders
    • Protein loss is minimized (2-3%)
  • Forced air batch – developed at IGFRI
    • Capacity 1 t /day
    • Cost Rs.60/t

Chemical changes in hay making

  • Conversion of soluble sugars to CO2 & H2O
  • Loss of digestibility
  • Increase in cellulose and lignin content
  • Reduce in nutritive and keeping quality

Loss in fodder value

  • Nutrient loss in late cutting
  • Shattering of leaves & finer parts (in legumes)
  • Fermentation loss leads to dry mass loss by 6%
  • Oxidation by sun bleaching leads to
    • Loss of chlorophyll and carotene
      • Carotene decreases from 150-200 to 5-10ppm
      • Carotene is to give aroma
        • Animals are color blind
  • Leaching leads to loss of
    • Protein, nitrogen free extract (NFE), minerals, and vitamins
    • Consequently crude fibre increases & digestibility deceases
    • In Berseem crude protein loss is from 22% to 16-18%

Ensilage / Silage making
‘Silage’ may be defined as the green succulent roughage preserved under controlled anaerobic fermentation in the absence of oxygen by compacting green chops in air and watertight receptacles

  • Silage leads to fermentation of water soluble carbohydrates  to organic acids which increases acidity of the materials (pH – 4)
  • Such anaerobic acid (lactic acid) arrests the
    • growth of bacteria
    • Moulds
    • Inactivates putrefying organisms (act as preservative)
    • Consequently reduces nutrient losses and
    • Change in nutritive value
  • Best method than hay

Crops suitable for silage

  • Crops suitable are based
    • Dry matter of 30-45%
    • Soluble sugar 8-10%
    • Ratio between water soluble CHOs and buffer capacity
    • Ratio of sugars to crude protein
      • All these decide production of lactic acid
    • Crops suitable for cut at 50% flowering and at milking
      • Crops like sorghum, maize

Points for consideration while ensiling

    • Dry matter content for the materials should be 30-45%
    • More succulent materials may be taken after field drying only
    • Polythene layering on all sides improves the quality
    • Filling should be done on a clear day as quickly as possible
    • Filling should be in layers of 20-30cm at a time and uniformly
    • Compaction must be perfect
    • Trampling is useful to remove air pockets
    • Top must be convex / dome
    • Silage pit size
      • 20 x 20 x 20 c. ft for 50-55 t
      • 5 x 5 x 6 c. ft for 22.5 t
      • 10 x 5 x 6 c. ft for 45.0 t

Characteristics of good silage

  • No mould growth
  • Golden / greenish yellow
  • Pleasant fruity odour or acceptable aroma
  • Free flowering and non-sticky texture
  • 3-4% increased palatability
  • Increased nutritive value
  • pH around 4.0 – 4.5
  • Lactic acid proportionally more than other acids
  • Decrease in nitrate-N and increase in ammoniacal-N
  • Ammoniacal N should not exceed more than 15% of the total N


  • It is low moisture silage (40-45%)
  • Made from grass / legume that is wilted to reduce moisture content
  • But for moisture it is almost silage

Fortification of Fodder
‘Fortification or enriching is the direct addition of feed supplements to the poor quality roughage to improve its fodder value’

  • Mixing green legume with fodder
  • Mixing liquid ammonia (2.5 to 3.0%)
  • Mixing Urea molasses
    • 2-3% for concentrates
    • 1% of dry matter
  • After mixing similar to silage

Fortifying materials and usage

  • Molasses for rice, wheat
  • Mineral mixture and salt for low grade grass hay
  • Urea for sorghum & maize green fodder
  • Tapioca powder/ maize powder for leguminous fodder
  • Bacteria and / fungi for dried ground nut haulms

Advantages of Fortification

  • Improves palatability
  • Reduces wastage
  • Improves rumen environment
  • Increases crude protein
  • Cleavage of cell wall for increased digestibility
  • Neutralize or reduce the concentration of toxic principles
  • Increases digestibility
  • Milk protein and fat increase

Multiple choice questions

  1. Green succulent roughage preserved under controlled anaerobic fermentation
    a. Forage                   b. Hay                         c. Silage
  2. Cool-season grass is ________
    a. Rye                      b. Bermuda      c. Corn
  3. Warm-season grass is __________
    a. Rye                       b. Blue grass   c. Bermuda
  4. Enriching is the addition of feed supplements to the poor quality roughage _____
    a. Silage                    b. Haylage       c. Fortification
  5. Moisture content in silage is ________
    a.  40-45%                 b. 20 - 25%            c. 25 - 35%
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