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Take a Better Hay Sample with These 8 Tips

Taylor Leach

May 20, 2022

The sweet smell of fresh cut hay is in the air as dairy producers work to restock their forage inventories for the year. As feed prices continue to soar, producers are leaning on homegrown forages now more than ever to help feed their cattle.


According to University of Kentucky extension, knowing the nutritional quality of forage and hay is an integral part of a profitable and efficient dairy operation. Accurate estimation of forage quality starts with obtaining a representative sample of the forage to be fed. Therefore, proper sampling techniques are critical.


Whether your sampling square bales, round bales or baleage, it’s important to keep these eight tips in mind in order to get accurate quality predictions.


• Always collect hay samples by coring hay bales with a sampling probe designed for hay.


• Always sample hay in lots. A lot con sists of a harvest-field combination. Collect 20 cores per hay lot.


• Delay sampling for dry hay stored inside for three to four weeks after harvest.


• Delay sampling for hay stored out side until three to four weeks prior to feeding.


• Core square bales from the end. Core round bales from the side.


• Delay sampling baleage for four to six weeks after baling to allow fermentation to finish.


• Refrigerate baleage samples prior to shipping.


• Always submit entire samples. Subdividing samples can result in altered lab results.


dairyherd.com