That depends on what you need from your forage. Hay is left to dry out on the field and therefore has no real moisture content and a lower nutritional value. Haylage is wrapped before it's dried right out and has a far higher moisture content and a much greater protein content.
Haylage can be stored in the field - because it's plastic wrapped weather won't affect it. Hay has to be carefully stored to ensure it doesn't get wet. For COPD sufferers haylage has the advantage of not being dusty while hay would need soaking.
But, haylage is not suitable for fat ponies, laminitics, anyone needing a low protein diet and you do have to be careful that the wrap has not been punctured and repaired at some time as it can heat up and ferment if this is the case. I've used haylage with great success for foals, mares in foal and youngstock who did really well on it. Now we just have 3 ponies we stick to hay - the haylage is just too much for them. You could feed a mix of both if you need more than hay but haylage is too much on its own.
Hay is cheaper and I'd say you need to feed a vit/min supplement whichever forage you choose. It just depends which suits your horse as to which is the best.
Great post from Chev, but I would add that haylage has to be used within 5 days once the bag has been opened which, unless the bags are very small, pretty well rules out using it for only one horse. As with hay, different grasses produce different quality and varying nutritional values and some can be quite heating. My supplier gave me two lots last delivery; round bales and square bales, but forgot to mention that the square bales were pure rye grass. I may as well have been feeding dynamite - I had some very exubrant horses for a while!!!
I have been feeding minnie haylage for about 4 weeks only because i thought it would be better for her after the acciedent with her being a bit chesty and on ventapulmin. At the moment she gets one slice at night when she comes in as she is out all day. But i will be putting her back on hay this weekend as she is nearly fully recovered and i dont think she needs it anymore. Then i think she will have half a bale at night.
I think like others have said depends what horse you have, were it lives in/out ,and how much storage you have and money as a bale of haylage costs me £6.50 yet hay cost £2.
when I had my ex racehorse she was on full livery and got haylage because the farm made it, so between all the horses a round bale got used up pretty quickly. Although it is more expensive, you don't need to feed as much. I love the smell of it. She was out through the day and in at night and loved haylage, but I generally stick to hay, although I did try haylage on my old boy in his latter years.
Ciara now is just on hay and doing fine, its really good quality hay though, howevr I tend to stick to what the yard feeds as I am always on part livery/full livery at the moment and for part livery at my yard all the feed is included.
I'd reckon if it is to go out in the field you would have less chance of it blowing away than hay. Its not something I would want to feed ad lib though.
There is a small botulism risk yes, but if you feed good quality, clean haylage it should be OK. Things to look out for are mud or foreign bodies in the haylage as this is where the botulism bacteria can grow.
Also, if you do decide to feed haylage, remember to introduce it gradually.
Dizzy - my horses are stabled with about 6 hours turnout through the day; 3 feeds per day.
Thanks everyone. My reasons for asking is that my new livery yard fodders it into the field. Since I moved Breeze, her behaviour has been so out of character, she's been spooking, short tempered, and very pushy when I bring her in to ride, groom, or change her rugs. At first I put this down to insecurity, and have been very patient. Plus over the last 3 weeks she's lost quite a bit of weight, there is very little grass, so the haylage has been the lions share of her feed.
I rode on Sunday, and she bucked 4 times, not goodhearted bucks, but resentful, objectionational ones, I surprized myself and her by staying on board and riding her through them - but was very relieved that there wasn't a 5th as they were getting bigger!
Anyway I went and had a word with the livery owner, telling her I thought that the cause was the haylage. She was really nice, and said that because Breeze and her friend were in a separate field, and I go up twice a day, I could fodder hay.
The difference in her today was unbelievable, she led up like a donkey, stood and munched her net, didn't push or barge. I rode her out, she was a little spooky - but she's only 5, and the roads and sites are all new. But she was willing and enjoyed the look out just as much as I did. I have my lovely horse back, I can't tell you all how relieved I am.
So haylage definitely does not suit my horse, wish I'd listened to my instincts 2 weeks ago, and not just put her lousy behaviour down to being moved.