Emergency Forage Soybeans

soybeans with mulch underneath

Forage soybeans are not normally recommended as an emergency forage. Forage soybean production has a steep learning curve. Successful producers started with a small acreage and took several years to learn how to manage this crop.

Whole unroasted soybean seeds pose a risk of ammonia toxicity. Limit to 2-4 lbs/head/day.

Protein exceeding animal demand will require feed energy for excretion. An unbalanced ration may cause animals to lose condition.


Dry Hay

  • Harvest between R3 and R5.
  • Takes longer to dry than alfalfa, which increases risk of mouldy hay
  • Use a mower-conditioner to speed up drying, ted early to minimize leaf shatter.
  • Can cause bloat, feed with grass/cereal forage.

Silage (Bag, Bunker, Tower, etc.)

  • Harvest between R3 and R6.
  • Does not pack well – makes excluding air difficult. Chop to 3/8 inch.
  • High oil + moderate sugar = buffer against pH drop. Use an inoculant.
  • Improve fermentation by either ensiling silage corn:soybeans at 1:1 ratio, or adding at least 10% ground corn grain or molasses on a dry matter basis.
  • Limit to 20% of ration.


  • Not recommended due to difficulties ensiling.
  • Baleage relies ONLY on airless environment to preserve crop, too dry for complete fermentation and large pH drop.
  • Likely to spoil.

More Information:

Ensiling Soybeans, Province of Manitoba

Soybeans for Hay or Silage, University of Wisconsin

Soybeans for Grazing, Hay, and Silage, University of Florida

Making Soybean Silage, Fieldcropnews.com

Soybeans as a Forage Crop, Fieldcropnews.com

Harvesting Drought-Stressed Soybeans for Forage, Michigan State University