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Calculating the Value of Silage vs. Hay January 20, 2022, contributed by Yaremcio Ag Consulting, Ltd.

When comparing the value of hay ($200 per ton) to silage ($65 per ton), the question to answer is, “which feed is more cost effective?” The comparison should be made based on the cost per pound of dry matter in each ton of feed. Knowing the moisture content of both feeds is key to making this calculation. One feed is considered to be the standard, and the comparison is made against the second feed. It does not matter which feed is considered to be the standard.

How to do the calculations is provided below. In this case, hay is considered to be the standard.

Calculate the amount of dry matter and then divide the cost by the number of pounds of dry matter.

Hay contains 16% moisture or 84% dry matter.

2000 pounds x 84% dry matter = 1680 pounds of dry matter per ton.

$200 per ton divided by 1680 pounds = 11.9 cents a pound (dry basis)

The hay has a base value of 11.9 cents per pound, and this value is used to calculate the value of silage.

To establish the silage price, it is necessary to work off the dry matter content of the silage.

Silage is 65% moisture or 35% dry matter.

2000 pounds x 35% dry matter = 700 pounds of dry matter per ton.

Multiply the dry matter per ton of silage by the hay “base value” obtained on the dry basis to obtain an equivalent value for the silage.

700 pounds x 11.9 cents a pound = $83.30 per ton of wet silage.

If the nutrient content is comparable between the two feeds, silage is the more economical purchase. The value of the silage on a dry basis is $83.30 per ton compared to a purchase price of $65 per ton.

Barry Yaremcio

Ruminant Nutritionist

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