The chemical composition and nutritive value of each of eight varieties of barley were examined at seven stages of growth. There were differences between some varieties at certain stages of growth but these were small. Dry matter content increased with increasing maturity while water‐soluble carbohydrate content increased to the milky ripe stage and then fell sharply. In vitro organic matter digestibility was a maximum at the mealy ripe stages of growth. The optimum stage of growth for cutting barley for ensilage is discussed. Silage was made from barley cut at the early mealy ripe stage of growth, in small tower silos. There was no effluent, and fermentation losses were low. The in vivo digestibility of the silage organic matter was 65.5%.