Difference between hay and silage

Main difference

The main difference between hay and silage is that hay is a stored dry grass that is used as animal fodder, while silage is also a fodder that is used after the fermentation process.

Hay versus silage

Hay is grass cut, dried, and then stored for use as animal fodder, while silage is fermented green feed that is stored in a silo. The grass was first dried to make hay; on the other hand, when ensiled, the grass is not dry.

Animals cannot grab hay quickly, while silage is easily digested and contains more nutrients. For preservation, hay is bundled uncovered, while silage is baled and covered with plastic wrap tightly. Hay dries in the fields, but silage does not.

A slender stem crop produces hay in 48 hours, but the silage process is complete in 21 days. When hay is stored, it must be covered with a plastic sheet to prevent rain from falling, while when silage is made, it is covered and air is prevented from entering.

Hay generally contains a moisture content of 12%, while silage contains 40-60%. The dry matter value of the hay is 82%, while the wake has a DM value of 40-60%.

Comparative chart

Hay Silage
The dried, cut grass that is used as animal fodder is called hay. Fermented green forage, which is stored in a silo, is called silage.
Sun dried product Fermented product
Moisture content is 12% Moisture content is 40-60%
Bales are stored unwrapped The packages are stored in plastic wrap.
to import
The dry matter value is 82% The dry matter value is 40-60%
Affected by the weather Less affected by the weather
Dry in the field Dry in airtight packaging
What is hay?

The preserved forage, which is used as forage made from cut grass, is called hay. Hay is grass, herbaceous plants and legumes are cut, dried and stored. Use it as pasture for livestock such as horses, sheep, cows, and goats.

Hay is also used to feed smaller domestic animals such as rabbits, grazing animals, herbivores. Hay is used as fodder for pigs, but they cannot digest it easily. Due to the climate when grazing is not feasible or when there is not enough grass for the animals, the hay is used as fodder also when they are in the barn.


Mowing the grass is the first step in haymaking. At the end of June, just before flowering, haymaking usually begins. When the weather is good and several continuous days are expected, the cut must be made. It is affected by rain, it becomes unsightly and of poor quality.

In the second step, the cut grass will dry in the sunlight. Over the rows cut for roughing, the drying lawn tractor will be driven with ‘hay bob’. This procedure makes the dewatering process more accessible and removes moisture more quickly. The quality of the hay depends on the grass crop to dry completely before being stored or packed.

A crop that can dry faster is suitable for haymaking. Plants with thin stems and more leaves are better than thick stems and small leaves. Includes corn, oats, disodium, sorghum, alfalfa, napier grass. When the crown buds begin to grow or the flower initiation stage, the legume forage crops (eg, alfalfa, cowpea, etc.) should be the harvest.

What is silage?

The forage fermentation process is silage. This fermented forage is used to eat cattle in the dry season when natural grass is not suitable. It does not depend on the climate because the forage is stored in a silo. More digestible material is used in the production of silage.

To preserve its nutritional value, improve its flavor and quality, the forages will be hermetically packed with polyethylene sheets. This process completely takes about 21 days. It contains many characteristics and a pleasant smell.

Silage contains between 40 and 60% moisture. If it is too wet, then the loss of nutrients and the deterioration of the silage. If it’s too dry, it turns to hay. It is the main reason, bales wrapped in polyethylene sheets.

Silage manufacturing

The process of preserving feed in its humid state removes the air, it is the fermentation used in the production of silage. The first step in making silage is to cut the grass, which is about 60 cm long. All mowers cut the plants in a straight line, known as a row.

A forage harvester can collect quickly. Before being fed into a forage harvester, the farmer has a sequence of rotating tines that lift the grass from the growing area. After this process, the shredder cut it into a specific length and the trailer was used to transport it to the storage area.

At the end of the process, the ensiled material is covered with black polyethylene sheets and ensures that no air enters. Hundreds of tires will be used to hold the polyethylene sheet until winter time. It is affected by the wind and becomes poor quality silage.

Key differences
  1. Hay is sun dried fodder, but silage is fermented fodder.
  2. In haymaking, bales are not covered with plastic sheeting; while ensiled, it is covered.
  3. Hay will be affected by the weather; on the other hand, silage will not .
  4. The hay will dry in the field, but the silage will dry hermetically.
  5. The hay will be dried first and then made, while the silage will dry in the packaging.
  6. Hay’s DM value is 12%; on the other hand, silage has a value of 40-60%
  7. Hay is affected by rain, but silage is affected by air.

Final Thought

Hay is the dry product with 12% moisture, while silage is a fermented grass that contains up to 40-60% moisture. However, hay and silage differ because they both have different moisture content.

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