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.
- Up to R5.
- Can cause bloat.
- Stubble has very low feed quality; increased risk of overconsumption of unharvested raw beans.
- 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.
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