Using Preservatives and Drying Agents to Improve Hay Quality

Hay preservatives and drying agents are options that should be explored to reduce wilting periods for hay crops this year. Prolonged soil saturation and frequent rains have delayed hay harvest operations for many producers, and using treatments such as drying agents may increase dry-down rates, or using preservatives may reduce requirements for complete dry-down before storing the feed.

In the case of dry hay and green feed, preservatives traditionally allow you to bale before waiting for the swath to wilt to 18% moisture, and in the case of silage, they will help optimize fermentation and feed quality. Some have suggested that if you’ve never used hay preservatives before, this year is a good year to start, especially is the case for those “odd” crops that you may decide to make into feed. However, growers should take caution when deciding which product to use and read the information below.

A list of registered non-nutrient forage additives provide a good reference as they have undergone testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)  to backup product claims. There are many products on the market that may not be included in CFIA's list, which means the research has not been done under conditions set by the CFIA, and they are not registered to be sold in Canada. These products may or may not work, so buyer beware.

Below are links to additional information on preservatives and additives. It is also useful to consult with local growers who may have experience using these products.