Testing Hay for Protein Levels

Weaning calves

Nutrient content of feeds not only varies among different feed types, but also varies with different batches (hay lots, growth stage of pasture, etc.) of the same feed type. The objective of sampling forages is to estimate the value of feed for livestock.

At Simply Grazin’ we use a hay probe on a drill to take our samples from baled hay. The probe goes into about the core of the bale. The process is repeated on several hay bales within the sampling lot. We like to take our samples when the feed has reached full fermentation, which is anywhere between three to six weeks.

We then work with a local nutritionist to send our samples out to be tested.  The testing of the samples will tell us the quality of the forage such as absorbable proteins, any toxins, and overall quality of the plants harvested. And, last but not least, the information collected will tell us what feed needs to be used where. For example, our grower animals need the higher protein to grow faster and put on weight quicker to make it to market sooner, also it tells us what we are getting out of the fields as far as forage and we can then make changes to get higher quality feed such as re-seeding or turning over and rotating crops to give back to the soil and achieve better yields. Also, the better and higher quality feed means that a little less can be fed as the animals are getting more nutrients out of less consumption.