Smallholders with dual-purpose cattle production systems in most Central America experience a shortage of forages during the dry season (4-8 month. As a result, substantially lower milk production and weight gain occurs. Dual-purpose operations seeking to maximize milk and beef production in the dry season can produce and feed hay or silage to their livestock. The increase in milk and beef production due to feeding hay or silage during the dry season on commercial dual-purpose cattle productions systems, the production costs of making silage or hay and the benefits as a result of feeding silage or hay are estimated and compared in Honduras and Costa Rica. Due to feeding silage or hay, farmers in Honduras and Costa Rica have increased milk production during the dry season. The costs of feeding hay are lower in both countries, although farmers feed a higher amount (kg DM/cow/day) than silage. Feeding silage or hay to milking cows is profitable in both countries. The income-cost ratio and the net benefit ($/cow/day) due to feeding these feedstuffs are positive. Farmers with milking cows in Honduras realise a higher income-cost ratio and net benefit due to feeding silage and hay than farmers in Costa Rica. Likewise, beef cows or young livestock supplemented with these feeding alternatives don't loose weight during the dry season. In Honduras as well in Costa Rica, it is profitable to feed silage or hay to beef cows or young livestock. Currently, no silage and a small hay market exist in Honduras. Possibly, these will develop due to an increasing demand for these profitable feedstuffs. In Costa Rica thanks to the efforts of agricultural organisations, a hay market of different qualities is developing.
Schoonhoven, A.D., Holmann, F., Argel, P., Pérez, E., Ordoñez, J.C. and Chaves, J. 2006. Estimation and comparison of benefits due to feeding hay and silage during the dry season on commercial dual-purpose cattle production systems in Honduras and Costa Rica. Livestock Research for Rural Development (18):1.