As a professional haylage producer, I am increasingly frustrated by the misconceptions surrounding haylage, even from professional horsemen and women. The comments “haylage is too rich” or “it makes my horse fizzy” are frequently heard.
Problems arise because some producers make haylage a lot earlier in the year than hay, which is generally made later due to weather conditions. As a direct result of this the grass used is young and higher in protein and energy. If you made hay with the same grass this hay would also be deemed “rich”.
A professional producer will send samples of grass for analysis to ensure energy and protein levels are within an acceptable range for the job required.
As a major supplier for the racing industry I can tell you that despite common perceptions, race horse trainers are not looking for very high protein forage. Indeed the Metropolitan Police (150 horses) are also haylage users, who for obvious reasons do not want “fizzy” horses!
In summation, not all haylage is “rich”; it is totally dependant on the maturity of the grass when cut. The best way to avoid problems is to buy from a reputable producer who provides analytical back up.
I think some of the misconceptions hark back to the days when “haylage” was actually left over silage, made for high-producing dairy or beef cattle and sold to local horse owners, (silage being very high in protein).