Oct 2, 2014
Home| Tools| Events| Blogs| Discussions Sign UpLogin

Production: Forage Analysis Basics

May 7, 2013
By: Catherine Merlo, Dairy Today Western and Online Editor google + 
Nutrition Forages at dairy 4 23 12 113   Copy
Improperly labeling a sample bag at the dairy is a common mistake seen by forage-testing labs.  

Does your forage testing lab make the grade?

Forage testing is essential if you want to manage for higher production and efficiency. But what should you expect from your forage testing lab? Ralph Ward, president of Cumberland Valley Analytical Services, one of the largest forage testing labs in the U.S., offers these insights.

What should you expect from a forage testing lab?

Dairy Today red dot


Bonus Content

Web resources

From the National Forage Testing Association:

"Laboratories are expected to accurately evaluate diverse feeds for nutrients and characteristics that can be difficult to execute," Ward says. "Choose a lab that will work with you to meet your expectations and those of your nutritionist. A dairy producer should look for a forage testing lab that can provide solutions, not just numbers. You want someone who’ll work for you."

Good labs offer responsiveness, transparency, a staff that understands ruminant nutrition and agronomic concepts, and full service. They should also be innovative and connected with industry.

What are the most common mistakes in forage and feedstuff testing?

While producers perceive that forage laboratories often get it wrong, the greatest source of error in forage testing relates to obtaining a representative sample for submission to the lab, Ward says.

Beyond that, the greatest source of error in the lab is connected to sample preparation. "Subsampling, dry-down and reduction of particle size in a manner that maintains sample homogeneity are areas of potential error," he says.

Another common error is when a specific sample procedure is not valid for the feed matrix. Labs get a lot of unusual samples, such as food byproducts. Applying the correct procedure is critical. The first step in that process is to have the sample properly identified.

How often should you test your forages?

There are no hard and fast rules here, but "you need to test frequently enough to capture and define variation in a feed or forage source," Ward says.

For example, a bunker of corn silage that’s very consistent may not need to be tested as frequently as a bunker of hay silage where there’s a lot of variation and rapid use.

"In a large herd of 2,000 or more cows, where you’re rapidly going through forage material, you may need to test several times per week to capture variation," he says. "In smaller herds with consistent forages, two times per month may be adequate."

Where’s forage testing headed?

Previous 1 2 Next

See Comments

FEATURED IN: Dairy Today - May 2013

Log In or Sign Up to comment


No comments have been posted



Receive the latest news, information and commentary customized for you. Sign up to receive the AgWeb Daily eNewsletter today!.

Enter Zip Code below to view live local results:
The Home Page of Agriculture
© 2014 Farm Journal, Inc. All Rights Reserved|Web site design and development by AmericanEagle.com|Site Map|Privacy Policy|Terms & Conditions