Test the hay for nutrients

Producer Question from 2014

Q.  I have a cow herd that I will be feeding some prairie hay later this winter. What nutrients should I test the hay for? (December 19, 2014)

A.  First make sure that you have a representative sample of the hay being tested. Forage testing labs will not accept a "grab" sample from baled hay. Sample hay with a forage probe. Most extension offices will have a forage probe.

Most forage testing labs will test the forage using NIR technology. It is import to package the hay sample for shipping and, because the lab will test the hay using NIR, make sure the sample is correctly identified.

Test the hay for moisture, percent crude protein, and percent TDN (Total Digestible Nutrient). A basic NIR analysis will test the forage for the three mentioned qualities, but the analysis will include some minerals, mainly calcium and phosphorus.

For more information on forage testing, please see the following UNL Beef resources.

Rick Rasby
Beef Specialist – University of Nebraska