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Haylage Production in Small Enterprises

In animal feed, the need for roughage is usually met by hay and silage. However, the quality and yield losses in dry hay are quite high. In traditional silage, the deterioration risk of silage is very high because of the need for big mechanization park and the lack of technical information. That’s why, in recent years, research has been concentrated on different methods that could be more practical, and the method of haylage, which is one of the alternative methods, has clearly come to the forefront. Haylage, which was started to be used in Europe in 1950s for the first time particularly for racehorse, is combination of the words ‘hay’ and ‘silage’. Haylage, also known as low moisture hay silage and bale silage, has been in use in Turkey in order to close the gap of quality feed.YASEMİN VURARAKjışpi

Dr. Yasemin VURARAK
East Mediterranean Agricultural Research Institute Directorate, Adana

According to data from the Agricultural Enterprises Building Research, 62.3 percent of Turkish agricultural enterprises deal with vegetable and livestock, 37.2 percent deal with only vegetable and 0.5 percent deal with only livestock. In addition to this, 59.7 percent of livestock enterprises have 1-4 bovine while 25.4 percent have 10-19 bovines. This data tell us that companies dealing with livestock are generally small size family companies. There are 11.3 million cattle and 3.4 million sheep and goats in Turkey. If we calculate the roughage need of Turkey for health and economic production in line with “survival rate + 7 kilogram milk/day,” it means that the roughage need is 100 million tons.

If we consider that the production of roughage is 38.5 million ton, the country needs 61.5 million tons of quality roughage (Ak, 2013). There has been increase in the production of feed plants thanks to the incentive by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock since 2000 in order to reduce the cost and increase the profitability of small companies (Akman et al., 2007). Together with this, the 2015 data revealed that 10.9 percent of all cultivation area is reserved for feed crop production. A part of this production is hay and the other part is for silage and a part of it is used for grazing.

In order to obtain healthy animal products, animals must be fed with healthy food. However, for small companies, it is costly and not available. As it is known, feeds are examined in two parts: roughage and concentrate feed. Roughage is the first step to have economical feed for companies dealing with livestock and it is the biggest cost for companies. 40-90 percent of the basic inputs of livestock enterprises constitute feed intakes (Charmley, 2001; Soya et al., 2004; Yolcu and Tan, 2008).

Although it is more common for feed facilities to produce hay bale, many researches have determined that at least 30-50 percent of protein and other feed loss is experienced (Wilkinson et al., 1996; Bayar and Yumak, 2000; Yaman and Sönmezler, 2011; Yıldız et al., 2008; Kılıç and Galipoğlu, 2008). In traditional production of silage, if the silage techniques cannot be applied properly, the loss is increased, and when the silages are opened, there has been rapid deterioration. Thus, bale silage production has increased in the last 30-40 years in the world, while dry hay consumption tends to decrease (Wilkinson et al., 1996). Recently, livestock enterprises in Turkey have also begun to use bale silage. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock has also included these applications in support.

Haylage is the combination of words ‘hay’ and ‘silage.’ Haylage, also known as low moisture hay silage and bale silage, has been in use in Turkey in order to close the quality feed gap. The traditional silage is produced through disintegration of feed with having rich water source (25-30 percent dry matter), and these stacks are compressed and left in airless environment. On the other hand, the haylage is produced with feeds having low moisture when compared with the traditional silage (40-60 percent dry matter), and these feeds are compressed to have bales and wrapped with plastic packings, left in airless environment (Kılıç, 2010; Kutlu ve Çelik, 2010).

pH Value at Haylage: The critical pH value at traditional silages is 3.9 and lower. In haylage, this value is higher. In general, the pH may vary between 4.3-6.5 depending on the season and the plant material used (Huhnkle at al., 1997; Kılıç, 2010).

Dry Matter Content in Haylage: Hay is stored with 16-20 percent moisture level while the traditional silage is with 70-85 moisture level. In haylage, it is 40-60 percent moisture level. (Kılıç ve Garipoğlu, 2008). Thus, production, which can be considered as haylage, must be harvested while it has rich dry content or must be waited, that is wilted, until it reaches this level of dry matter after harvest. This situation is beneficial for lactic acid fermentation in the bale silage. If the harvest is carried out while the dry content is low, it is required to make good balance in wilting technique.

Disintegration Operation in Haylage: In traditional silages, disintegration operation is carried out during harvest; the process is regarded as one of the most important parts of silage production. Many researches have showed that if the disintegration amount is increased, the quality of the traditional silage is increased as well. In haylage production, if the grass is shortened lower than necessary, rumination, mastication, and saliva amount is reduced, and this lower the milk production. Daily, 70-180 liters of saliva are produced in ruminants. Thanks to this saliva, an ideal environment for rumen fermentation can be provided. The relationship between saliva production and mastication time has been investigated and it has been reported that mastication amount should be at least 24 minutes in order to obtain 2.9% fat milk. It was emphasized that the mastication time was related to the size of the given feed. For this reason, the expression “Haylage is more beneficial for animal health than traditional silages” is included in the academic study results (Schroeder, 2004)

Wrapping (Coating) Operation in Haylage and Conservation: If wrapping is delayed, the temperature in the bale increases and losses in silage quality increase. For this reason, after the bundling, within six hours, at the latest, twelve hours, the wrapping should be carried out (Sullivan, 1998). When compared to wrap with four layers, the application to wrap the big bale silages with 6-8 layer of polythene material increases the quality of silage and decreases the mold (Keller at al., 1998). However, it has been reported that in a study of clover large bale silage, the number of layers must be at least 20 (Kavalcıoğlu, 2008). In the case of small bale silages, the difference in quality between 4 and 6 layers could not be determined (Yaman and Sönmezler, 2011). Generally speaking, the light colored polyethylene material must be preferred in spring harvest while dark colored polyethylene must be preferred for autumn harvest. Some researches pointed out that the color of polyethylene does not have effect on the quality of silage while the brightness of silage is affected (Kavalcıoğlu, 2008). After haylage, three lines of silage must be placed side-by-side and horizontally in dry and dark place, and they must be covered with two layers of nylon or fiberglass (Kutlu ve Çelik, 2010). In bale silages, which are kept under sun for a long time, feed are sweated, and the water is accumulated in the polyethylene cover. Also, the transfer of air and moisture is experienced at the lower part of feed. Thus, feeds should be kept at dark places (Kılıç, 2010).

Specification of Wrapping Materials at Haylage: It is known that the thickness value of polyethylene material affect the permeability of oxygen and thus number of days for material deterioration. Savoie (1998) investigated how the polyethylene material thickness used in packing of hay silage bale and silage durability duration can be achieved with minimum cost. As a result, the feed quality is lost by 2.4 percent in bale silage with 25 μm thick plastic cover while this loss is reduced to 0.16 percent if the thickness is increased to 400 μm. 100 μm is considered as appropriate for three-month long storage period. But if this storage period is increased to seven-month, 150 μm is considered as appropriate in terms of cost and loss. If this storage is further increased to 12 month-long, 200 μm is considered as appropriate in terms of cost and loss.

Use of Additives in Haylage: In traditional silage, especially when the legumes are evaluated as silage, some additives must be put in certain amounts in the silage in order to protect the quality. Although the protein values of legume grasses are high, the construction of silages is very difficult. In the case of haylage, it is reported that there is no need for any additives, whether they are legumes or wheatgrass feedstuffs (Yaman ve Sönmezler, 2011; Kılıç ve Galipoğlu, 2008). This is advantageous for haylage. Just as the cost of the traditional silage is increased with additional additives, there could be disruption during application like non-uniform distribution.

According to three-years long research at the Doğu Akdeniz Agricultural Research Institute, the appropriate production roughage method for the Mediterranean Region can be used at the most quality production of roughage. In the research, the five different preparation method according to their operation values (fuel, employment, duration) and quality parameters (relative feed value, raw protein, etc.) are compared (Table 1).

All these bundles are small size, and roll bundle machine and bundle wrapping machine used in these operations had obtained patent as utility model as a part of TUBITAK project under the leadership of Lalahan Livestock Research Institute. Producers have begun to this model.

Haylage, traditional silage and hay are among the methods; and in the production of haylage and hay production, the harvest with different machines, in the first stage, is investigated to see whether they have any effect on the quality. In all these methods, two different vegetable materials have been used. Thus, it was also possible to control whether the methods used when obtaining roughage changed according to the product.

First of mixture was the mix of common vetch, which was planted in a widespread manner, and triticale (FTK) while the other was Italian grass and barseem (IIK), as an alternative to the first mixture. In both mixture, on the subject of S1 and S2, it is waited until the green grass got hay so that they can be bundled after the harvest. This is about a week. Hay are bundled in small sizes (15-20 kilo / bundle) with bundling machine and kept under shelter. On the subject of S3 and S4, which are haylage subject, they are wilted under their KM rate has reached 40-60 percent after the harvest. Following this, they are bundles as small cylinder bundles (40-55 kilo/bundle), and they are covered with four layer of PE material and left for fermentation under the shelter. On traditional method, the S5 subject, the material is cut and crashed at the value of 25-30 percent KM and kept at the traditional silage without wilting.

The some of the quality value of FTK and IIK are realized as given at Table 2 and Table 3. According to this evaluation for both mixture, the haylage subjects S3 and S4 subjects are better at having roughage than both hay (S1 and S2) and traditional silage (S5).

Harvest machines in S3 and S4 are two different machines. In S3’s harvest, drummed bush cutter and in S4’s harvest, lawn mower with disc and grind unit is used. These machines have different effect on productions. This difference is important at getting quality feed during the production of roughage. When the total oil consumption in the haylage’s production (S3 and S4) is compared against the traditional silage (the oil consumption in S5 subject is only related to the harvest machine), the former’s level is really low.

The amount of oil consumption in common vetch and triticale mixture is higher than Italian grass and barseem. This is because of physical specification of vegetable. Since the common vetch is tall and has more cellulose amount, the performance of small type roll wrapping machine after the harvest got low and have increased oil consumption. However, with Italian grass and barseem mixture, more delicate and short products are obtained and thus, the performance of bundle machine is higher. The best subject between S3 and S4 at haylage topics is roughage after harvest carried out with lawn mower with disc and grind unit. This show how important the harvest is in the preparation of roughage.

As a result, this method of having roughage (HAYLAGE), compared against particularly the traditional silage, revealed that it has advantages at getting quality product (NYD – having the best relative feed value) and oil consumption, one of the mechanization inputs. It has been found in small enterprises that HAYLAGE technique can be used effectively in the production of coarse feeds in 40-50 kilo small balls in the Mediterranean climate region and similar regions. However, in order to achieve the full performance of this system, the vegetable material must be delicate, short and thin. Thus, the fuel cost is reduced, the quality is increasing.

We also suggest you to read our previous article titled "Ovine Feed Production, Production Technologies and Feed Additives".

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