Pricing Home-Grown Forages

One of the biggest problems when calculating feed costs is assigning an accurate value to home-grown forages. Most areas have an established dry hay market and it is relatively easy to estimate a hay price based on the market value of comparable quality hays. It is much more difficult assigning prices to silages and haylages - forages without readily available market values. Least cost ration formulation programs and enterprise budgets provide precise values but many times simpler and faster methods are needed.

The value of haylage can be estimated if you know the dry matter (DM) content of the haylage and the market price for dry hay of similar nutrient content. For example, if hay with 85% dry matter is currently selling for $60/ton, the price for similar quality haylage with 50% dry matter would be $35.29/ton. In this example, the calculation is as follows:

Price per Ton of Haylage
= (%DM in haylage/% DM in baled hay) X ($/ton baled hay)
= (50/85) X $60/ton
= $35.29 / ton of haylage

The following table shows the value of haylages with varying moisture contents and different prices for comparable quality dry hay (85% dry matter):

$/Ton of Similar Quality Dry Hay Value of Haylage ($/ton)
% Dry Matter In Haylage
40 45 50 55
60 28.24 31.76 35.29 38.82
70 32.94 37.06 41.18 45.29
85 40.00 45.00 50.00 55.00
100 47.06 52.94 58.82 64.71
Barley Corn
Grain ($/bu) Silage ($/ton) Grain ($/bu) Silage ($/ton)
2.00 25.00 3.00 27.00
2.25 28.13 3.25 29.25
2.50 31.25 3.50 31.50
3.00 37.50 3.75 33.75
3.25 40.63 4.00 36.00

Adjustments can be made to the prices if the quality (i.e. energy) is lower than average. "Typical" barley and corn silages will have NELs of approximately 1.24 and 1.5 mcal/kg, respectively. If, for example, a feed test for a sample of barley silage shows an NEL of 1.15 mcal /kg, the price should be adjusted downward to 93% (1.15/1.24) of the normal values listed above. If barley is currently selling for $3/bu, the lower quality barley silage would be worth $34.88 per ton ($37.50 x 93%).

For further information contact:

Karen Dupchak
Farm Production Extension, Animal Nutritionist
Manitoba Agriculture Food, and Rural Initiatives
204-545 University Crescent
Winnipeg, MB R3T 5S6
Phone: 204-945-7668
Fax: 204-945-4327