BROOKINGS, S.D. - Producers have been putting up their first and second cutting alfalfa and starting to cut their grass hay. Although some hay will remain with the operation, there are several growers who plan to market their hay, says Tracey Renelt, Extension Dairy Field Specialist.
If you're one of the producers who are deliberating selling your alfalfa or grass hay, Renelt says there are a few things to consider before marketing your product to optimize the price you receive.
"First, have you taken an analysis of forage to determine the quality? Sampling should be done as close to the time of utilization of the feedstuff or to the time sale," Renelt said. "This can be done by coring the bales via a hay probe."
Hay probes should be placed on the curved side at a 90 degree angle for large round bales, coring toward the center or when coring square bales it should be placed on the butt end of the bales. Care needs to be taken as to not get net wrap or twine included in the core sample. Core several random bales (20 minimum cores total) in a lot of hay, combine the sample, place the cores into a gallon-size plastic bag or other container and seal. A total of one-half pound of dry hay from the 20 cores is adequate.
"Samples should represent a cutting of hay from a particular field that has been put up under similar conditions, which is also referred to as a hay lot," Renelt said.
She reminds growers to label their sample bag adequately with their contact information, including phone number and type of sample you are sending (alfalfa, grass hay, mixed hay, etc) and the type of analysis desired.
Growers have several choices when it comes to selecting a lab which can perform an analysis on the sample to determine the feed quality. For lab contact information contact the local SDSU Regional Extension Center or look at the National Forage Testing Association website http://www.foragetesting.org/ which provides a list of certified laboratories that perform hay analysis tests.
Renelt explains that growers can either perform a wet chemistry analysis or a NIRS (Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy) analysis, which is most commonly done and typically is the quickest and cheapest method.
Thru the NIRS analysis growers will obtain results for RFV (relative feed value), RFQ (relative feed quality), percent dry matter, crude protein, ADF(acid detergent fiber, NDF (neutral detergent fiber) digestible NDF, lignin, crude fat, ash, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Potassium, Total Digestible Nutrients, Net Energy for gain, lactation & maintenance, NDF digestibility, and NFC (non-fiber carbohydrate).