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Craft Better Forages

August 20, 2014
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Attendees at World Dairy Expo can view, touch and smell the top 10 to 20 samples in each of the seven categories of the World Forage Analysis Superbowl in the Arena Building.  

Wisconsin forage testing lab plays key role in World Forage Analysis Superbowl success.

Demonstrating the value of growing high-quality forages to dairy producers, nutritionists and forage growers is the primary goal of the World Forage Analysis Superbowl (WFAS), held in conjunction with World Dairy Expo for the past 31 years.

"Coming to World Dairy Expo and viewing the top samples from the contest (on display in the Arena Building throughout Expo) gives people an appreciation for the important role forages play in a dairy’s nutrition program," says Doug Harland, laboratory manager for Dairyland Laboratories Inc., in DePere, Wis.

World Dairy Expo

For the past two years, Dairyland Labs has played a major role in the WFAS by analyzing the 300 to 400 samples, from two dozen states, submitted to the contest annually. Results from the analysis account for 60% to 70% of the final score in determining winners in each of the contest’s seven categories—dairy hay, grass hay, commercial hay, haylage, baleage, standard corn silage and brown midrib corn silage. The other 30% to 40% of the score is based on a visual inspection of the forage conducted by forage specialists from the University of Wisconsin.

The WFAS exhibit in the Arena Building during Expo features samples of the top 10 to 20 samples in each of the categories. "The display is set up so people can look at the samples, and touch and smell them too," Harland says.

Also provided with each sample is a summary of the analysis results and other background production information. "So you can see what variety was used and get some idea about the area where the sample was grown. We also have people on hand throughout the week to answer questions about the contest and forage testing in general," he explains.

Ready to learn

Another component of WFAS is a series of seminars, organized by the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wis. The sessions feature top-flight forage specialists from industry and Extension throughout the week on a stage immediately adjacent to the display area.

"Attending the seminars is a great way to learn about the latest trends in forage production, feed testing, dairy nutrition and more," Harland says.

Business can get rather hectic at Dairyland Lab’s DePere laboratory when the deadlines for the contest entries approach—August for the corn silage categories, September for the hay categories.

"It gets to be quite a bit of work with so many samples coming in at once," Harland says. "But it’s well worth it. From a business standpoint, participating in the contest provides exposure for our lab and what we’re promoting in the industry."

"On another level, it’s great to see firsthand the pride that producers take in the forages they’re growing. It reminds all of us how important quality forages are in the dairy business," he adds.

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FEATURED IN: Dairy Today - August 2014
RELATED TOPICS: Hay/Forage, Dairy, World Dairy Expo

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