A food dehydrator — a kitchen appliance that retails for about $40 — can do more than create dried foods in your home. It also can be used to determine the moisture content of your forages, says Karen Jacobsen, a private dairy consultant based in Athens, Ga.

A 100-gram corn-silage sample takes about five hours to “cook,” Jacobsen says. Simply weigh the sample and place it on the donut-shaped tray in the dehydrator. When it’s done drying, reweigh the sample and subtract the weight of the tray to arrive at the dry matter content. Four samples can be dried at once.

If you want to give it a try, buy a 500-watt model, Jacobsen adds.