NDSU Extension - Morton County


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November 9, 2020 Forage Quality

Renae Gress, Extension Agent/Agriculture and Natural Resources


Dates to Remember:

November 17: Active Parenting 5-12 year olds, Zoom, 8-9:15pm

December 2: Private General Training, Mandan, 12:30-3:30pm


Forage Quality

Do you know the quality of feed your livestock are consuming or will be consuming this winter?

Forage quality can impact digestibility, intake and animal productivity. It is one of the most important management tools that can increase animal performance, reduce feed cost and can result in an increased return on time and dollars invested in forage production.  Testing can give you information on the amount of crude protein, unavailable protein, crude fiber, lignin, digestible protein, total dissolved nutrients, calcium, phosphorus, relative feed value and more. This information can then be utilized to make decisions on what forages to feed to specific animals during certain times of production. Depending on the tests selected, it can cost $15 to $40 per sample.

Forages that can be tested include hay, silage, grains and total mixed rations. When taking samples, it is important to take a representative sample of the forage. For example, to test hay bales, you need to test bales from all parts of the field or stack using a core sample. Then, mix the samples so you get a representative sample to send off to testing. 

Feed costs are often the largest expense in a livestock operation, therefore there is an economic significance to testing your forages as it can improve productivity and overall profitability. If you would like more information on forage testing, please contact me at renae.gress@ndsu.edu or call 701-667-3340.

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