Submitted to: Forages for Ruminants Conference Proceedings Quality
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 27, 1994
Publication Date: N/A
The amount of loss that occurs during forage harvest and storage is influenced by the type and size of equipment and storage facilities used, management decisions, and weather. Average total losses in hay making are between 24 and 28%. Most of this loss occurs during harvest with only 5% loss during storage. Total losses in silage production are 14 to 24% with h about half of the loss occurring during storage. Losses include the physical detachment of forage material and the internal depletion or degradation of plant nutrients. Physical separation is primarily leaf loss. Because leaves have a higher concentration of nutrients, leaf loss reduces the quality of the remaining forage. Nutrients depleted from forage are primarily soluble carbohydrates, but other soluble nutrients may be lost. Although total system losses in forage conservation are high, losses occurring during most individual processes of harvest and storage are relatively small. Exceptions to this are rain damage, outsid storage of hay, and silo storage (particularly in bunkers) where losses often exceed 10% of the available crop. These losses are also the most detrimental to the quality of the remaining forage. System changes to reduce or eliminate these losses can provide the greatest improvement in forage quality and the most potential for economic return to the producer. Of the options available or under development which can provide substantial reduction of losses, a new process of maceration and mat drying appears to offer the greatest potential benefit. Very rapid drying along with improved digestibility obtained by maceration can produce hay of higher quality than any now available.