Annual ryegrass stored as balage, haylage, or hay for lactating dairy cows

M. E. McCormick, G. J. Cuomo, D. C. Blouin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Frequent rainfall in south Louisiana often limits the successful harvest of annual ryegrass (Lolium multiforum L.) as high quality hay. A 2-yr study was conducted to determine the effect of conserving ryegrass as balage on ensiling efficiency, storage losses, and feeding value. Ryegrass conservation treatments were balage (BLG), haylage (HLG, positive control), and hay (HAY, negative control. Ryegrass was cut at the boot stage and, following a 48-h wilt, was baled and wrapped with stretch film (BLG) or was chopped and stored in a bag silo (HLG). HAY (bloom stage) was harvested approximately 3 wk later when weather permitted and was stored indoors. At the conclusion of the 6-mo storage period, the nutritional value of stored forages was assessed with lactating Holstein cows (n = 21). Ryegrass pH values were lower, and lactate concentrations were slightly higher for HLG than BLG. Storage losses averaged 8.9% of dry matter (DM) for BLG compared with 3.7% for barn-stored HAY. Forage nutritive value was similar between ensiled forages; however, HAY was lower in protein and energy than other treatments. Cows fed HLG consumed 17.3% more forage DM and tended to produce more fat-corrected milk (FCM) than cows fed BLG. Feed efficiency (lb FCM/lb dry matter intake [DMI]) was higher for the BLG treatment than HAY. No treatment differences were observed for milk composition or cow weight/condition changes. Balage is an acceptable means of storing high quality ryegrass forage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-300
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Production Agriculture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998


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