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Bean Silage or Forage for Cattle

Richard S. Adams, professor of Dairy Science 814-863-3917
Snap or lima bean forage may be used in feeding cattle. This should be good news to farmers growing beans or those located near processing plants, if they are short of forage. The vines with beans attached may be fed as green-chop or ensiled. Also vines minus the beans may be used.

Care should be taken to chop the vines well to make the coarse-stemmed material more palatable to the cattle. Preferably mix the bean vines with other forage at feeding or ensiling. Overall feeding value and ensiling characteristics will vary according to how green the leaves are at harvest. Cutting earlier before the leaves turn much in color results in better silage and higher intakes.

The expected analysis on bean forage is comparable to pea-vine silage and/or mixed mainly grass forage with 12-13% crude protein on a dry matter basis. For various reasons it would be best to limit the feeding of bean or pea-vine silage to 60-80% of the usual intake for forage dry matter.

Source: Department of Dairy and Animal Science