When it comes to feed analysis, most people use the “out with the old, in with the new” philosophy. In other words, they ditch previous nutrient values in favor of using new ones to formulate a diet.

If you do that, how confident are you that the new values represent the true concentration of nutrients in the feed any better than the old numbers? That’s the question posed by Bill Weiss, professor of dairy nutrition at OhioStateUniversity. “With sampling, you never know if you’re correct,” he said at the Western Dairy Management Conference.

To increase your confidence in a feed’s nutrient composition, try this approach:

1.         Over time, collect multiple samples of a specific feed. The more samples you collect, the better.

2.         Use those values to calculate the mean or average nutrient concentrations and standard deviations for a particular feed ingredient. Ask your nutritionist to help you with the statistics.

3.         Use the mean, instead of the nutrient value from a single sample, to formulate the diet.