AskDefine | Define forage

Dictionary Definition



1 animal food for browsing or grazing [syn: eatage, pasture, pasturage, grass]
2 the act of searching for food and provisions [syn: foraging]


1 collect or look around for (food) [syn: scrounge]
2 wander and feed; "The animals forage in the woods"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. To search for and gather food for animals, particularly cattle and horses.
    1841 The message said that the party intended to hunt and forage through this region, for a month or two, afore it went back into the Canadas — James Fenimore Cooper, The Deerslayer, Chapter 8.
  2. To rampage through, gathering and destroying as one goes.
    1599 And your great-uncle's, Edward the Black Prince,
    Who on the French ground play'd a tragedy,
    Making defeat on the full power of France,
    Whiles his most mighty father on a hill
    Stood smiling to behold his lion's whelp
    Forage in blood of French nobility. — Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 1, Scene 2.
  3. To rummage.
    1898 Using the blankets for a basket, we sent up the books, instruments, and clothes to swell our growing midden on the deck; and then Nares, going on hands and knees, began to forage underneath the bed. — Robert Louis Stevenson, The Wrecker.



  1. Fodder for animals, especially cattle and horses.
    1819 ''The hermit was apparently somewhat moved to compassion by the anxiety as well as address which the stranger displayed in tending his horse; for, muttering something about provender left for the keeper's palfrey, he dragged out of a recess a bundle of forage, which he spread before the knight's charger. — Walter Scott, Ivanhoe'' here


  1. Of or pertaining to forage or foraging.
    1903 As to my dress, I covered my Hussar uniform with a long cloak, and I put a grey forage cap upon my head. — Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Gerard'', Chapter 4.


Extensive Definition

Forage is the plant material (mainly plant leaves and stems) eaten by grazing animals. Historically the term forage has meant fodder consisting solely of plant material. In a contemporary sense, it refers to pasture, hay, silage, crop residue, and immature cereal crops. Since it is generally considered to be high in fiber, cereal crop grains (such as shelled corn) are not normally regarded as forage.

Common forages

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • timothy
  • Canada bluegrass
  • bromegrass
  • orchardgrass
  • rhygrasses
  • tall fescue
  • reed canary grass
  • alfalfa
  • red clover
  • white clover
  • alsike clover
  • birdsfoot trefoil
  • vetches
  • sweetclover
  • corn
  • alfalfa
  • grass-legume mix
  • sorghums
  • oats
Crop residue
  • corn stover
  • soybean stover

Animals that make use of forage

Monogastrates (Ex. swine) make little use of the nutritional value of forage because their digestive tracts are not designed to break down fiber. For these animals it mainly serves as roughage to insure gut health and regular bowel movement. In ruminants (Ex. cattle) and hind-gut fermenters (Ex. horses), the microorganisms in their digestive tracts break down fiber, so forages serve as their main energy source.

See also


forage in French: Fourrage
forage in Spanish: Forraje
forage in Russian: Фураж

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

barley, beat, beat the bushes, bird seed, board, bran, bread, bunker, burrow, cat food, cater, chicken feed, chop, coal, comb, corn, delve, depredate, despoil, dig, dine, dog food, domiciliary visit, dragnet, eatage, ensilage, exploration, explore, feed, fill up, fleece, fodder, foray, freeboot, frisk, fuel, gas, gas up, go through, grain, grass, gratify, graze, gut, hay, house-search, hunt, hunting, look around, look round, look through, loot, maraud, mash, meal, meat, mess, nose around, oats, oil, pasturage, pasture, perquisition, pet food, pillage, plunder, poke, poke around, posse, prey on, probe, provender, provision, pry, purvey, quest, raid, ransack, ransacking, ravage, raven, ravish, regale, reive, research, rifle, root, rummage, sack, satisfy, scratch, scratch feed, search, search party, search through, search warrant, search-and-destroy operation, searching, sell, silage, slops, smell around, spoil, spoliate, stalk, stalking, still hunt, straw, sustain, sweep, swill, top off, turning over, victual, wheat, wine and dine
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