Feed shortages this year have forced livestock producers to get creative with their feed supplies by either haying plants they typically do not hay and/or buying hay. In order to best utilize feed resources, it is best to get the feed tested for quality. By knowing the quality of your feed resources, you are able to feed livestock in accordance to their needs in a cost-effective manner.

Feed samples should be representative of the feed source. Sampling every bale is best, however, it is not practical. Each sample should be a representative sample of the same class of hay – such as the part of the field or which hay cutting it was from. Take multiple samples from the same class of hay and mix the subsamples together for one representative sample. Try to make sure all the small fines also make it into the sample bag. A hand grab sample will not be representative unless the feed already is well mixed before sampling.

There are several different items feed can be tested for. The most important results for balancing a feed ration are dry matter, crude protein, acid detergent fiber, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and sulfur. Samples should be sent to a certified lab. The National Forage Testing Association has a list of certified labs that can be found at: www.foragetesting.org/links.

For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension Office at 701-252-9030 or alicia.harstad@ndsu.edu.