By: Mike Goodchild, Walton County Extension Agent
Most of us have heard the credit card advertisement “What’s in Your Wallet?” (which may not be much these days given the cost of feed and fertilizer). It is important to know, however, what’s in your hay. For around $15 you can have your hay analyzed and receive a feed and forage report. The University of Georgia Feed and Forage Testing Lab in Athens, GA is one place that offers this service. (Website: http://aesl.ces.uga.edu). The majority of UF/IFAS Extension Offices have hay probes available for producers and consumers to use to collect hay samples for submission.
With ample rainfall this summer in north Florida, there is currently an abundance of hay for sale. A hay producer can better market their hay if they can show a potential buyer a forage analysis report. As we know all hay is not created equal. Below is an example of a forage analysis report on Tifton 9 Bahia-grass from a 3rd cutting done in September. Based on this report a producer can establish a fair price for their hay or determine if supplements are needed to meet the nutritional needs of their livestock. Some of the key results to look at are Crude Protein (CP), Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN), and Relative Forage Quality (RFQ). When buying or selling hay we must also remember to factor in bale size and bale storage.
With the onset of cool weather leading to dormant summer pastures, the feeding of hay to livestock will soon be in full-swing. For more information on this topic contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Service or read more about testing hay by clicking on this UF/IFAS publication link : Forage Testing