An­a­lyze feed now so you don’t pay later

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - ALI­CIA SOPATYK, PAG, LIVE­STOCK AND FEED EX­TEN­SION SPE­CIAL­IST

Let’s face it – we don’t al­ways get the qual­ity that we want when putting up feed for our live­stock. Some­times it rains and har­vest gets de­layed and some­times feed is put up in record time. Ei­ther way, the nu­tri­tional qual­ity is un­known and a vis­ual test gives you lit­tle to work with. Test­ing your for­ages for qual­ity each year at a lab that uses wet chem­istry, com­bined with knowl­edge of your live­stock’s nu­tri­ent re­quire­ments, will re­sult in a more cost-ef­fec­tive and tar­geted win­ter feed­ing pro­gram that lim­its wastage, max­i­mizes use of al­ter­na­tive feeds and ul­ti­mately helps us main­tain or grow our live­stock.

Tak­ing a sam­ple

Feed test­ing starts with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple. For hay or silage bales, take core sam­ples from 10 per cent of the bales at ran­dom per lot of feed (~10-20 sam­ples). Silage pits should be sam­pled in a W or M pat­tern, tak­ing 15 to 20 core sam­ples per pit or pile. Probes for core sam­pling are avail­able at all Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture Re­gional Of­fices, or of­ten­times your min­eral or pel­let provider can also as­sist you. For­age that was put up dif­fer­ently (i.e., lots of rain ver­sus no rain) should be sent as sep­a­rate sam­ples. Sam­ples should fill a large re-seal­able zip­per stor­age bag, be sub­mit­ted as soon as pos­si­ble and as di­rected by the lab.

What to test

De­cid­ing what lab to send your sam­ple to can be daunt­ing. A list of test­ing labs is avail­able on our Wa­ter Test­ing and Feed Con­tacts, Lab­o­ra­to­ries, and Com­pa­nies web page. Each lab may have slightly dif­fer­ent test com­bi­na­tions, but the most im­por­tant things to look for are en­ergy (To­tal Digestible Nu­tri­ents or TDN), crude pro­tein (CP) and fiber (Neu­tral De­ter­gent Fiber or NDF). Most tests also come with a few min­er­als like cal­cium and phos­pho­rus. And for silage, it is ad­vis­able to in­clude ph and ADIN (to de­ter­mine if heat­ing oc­curred). In a year like this, any­thing that was put up with a risk of ni­trates should in­clude a ni­trate test. Other fac­tors such as my­co­tox­ins or sul­phur can be tested on an as-needed ba­sis. An­a­lyz­ing re­sults

Re­gional Live­stock and Feed Ex­ten­sion Spe­cial­ists can as­sist pro­duc­ers with in­ter­pre­ta­tion of their feed test re­sults. The num­bers pro­vide valu­able in­for­ma­tion that al­lows you to tar­get spe­cific feeds for spe­cific groups of live­stock. This al­lows for proper man­age­ment of nu­tri­ents to meet an­i­mals’ needs rather than over- or un­der-feed­ing. Us­ing aver­age val­ues at this point re­sults in aver­age re­sults. In many cases, fiber is too high, lim­it­ing in­take and there­fore nu­tri­ents avail­able to the an­i­mal. On the flip side, if fiber isn’t lim­it­ing, there is po­ten­tial to be over­feed­ing nu­tri­ents, cost­ing you money. You can also use this in­for­ma­tion to see how your man­age­ment in putting up the for­age may have af­fected the qual­ity.

Don’t wait un­til the mid­dle of win­ter to re­al­ize a sim­ple anal­y­sis could have helped you more strate­gi­cally use your feed. Strive to be above aver­age. Help us help you by feed test­ing be­fore bal­anc­ing ra­tions for your live­stock.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact your near­est Re­gional Live­stock and Feed Ex­ten­sion Spe­cial­ist or call the Agri­cul­ture Knowl­edge Cen­ter at 1-866-457-2377.

LIVE­STOCK

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