Hopkins County Hay Show: Samples taken Starting September 1, 2015

Quality of hay matters: Hopkins County Hay Show Samples taken Starting September 1, 2015


A forage analysis can determine the nutritive value and/or any potential toxicity of forage. With this information you can calculate whether or not you will need supplemental protein, energy or minerals. You must sample the hay correctly to get an accurate analysis, and each lot of hay should be sampled independently. For the purposes of hay sampling, a lot of hay refers to “all forage harvested and baled from one field at one harvest date and stored under similar conditions.” You should obtain one composite sample for each lot of hay by taking sub-samples from at least 10 percent of each lot’s bales. This composite sample will represent the nutritive value for that lot of hay.

Sampling bales: The ends and outer edges of bales are often weathered and decayed, so taking samples from these areas can understate the true nutritive value of the hay. The ideal way to sample hay is to use a bale probe, which removes a 1-inch-diameter core. On round bales, cores should be taken toward the center, midway up the side of the bale. Sampling near ends or bottoms of bales will not give you a representative sample. Remove the outer ½ inch of the bale surface so the sample will not be contaminated with dust or debris. Then drill or core 12 to 18 inches into the bale and carefully put the sample into a paper sack. Repeat this procedure on several other bales from the same field and harvest date. Mix the subsamples thoroughly and submit the composite sample to the laboratory along with the laboratory submittal form. You should collect one composite sample for every 25 to 30 bales from a given field and cutting. For very large lots of hay you should sample at least 10 percent of the baled hay.On square bales, take sample cores from the ends of bales toward the center. Remove the outer 1/2 inch of hay, then drill 12 to 18 inches into the bale. Carefully place the sample into a paper sack, and then sample six to eight other bales from the same field and cutting. Mix the samples thoroughly, label the composite sample, and submit it to the laboratory with the submittal form. Collect one composite sample for every 400 bales from a given field and cutting. Nutrient needs for grazing animals vary according to kind (cattle, sheep, goats, horses) and class (mature, dry pregnant, lactating, growing). Although minerals and vitamins are important to the overall health and performance of these animals, energy and crude protein are the most important components of forage nutrition. To promote science based estimation of hay quality, the Hopkins County Professional Ag Workers has planned the 2015 Hopkins County Hay Show. The show is organized so hay producers in Hopkins County can get hay samples tested for protein, phosphorous and potassium for free courtesy of the Northeast Texas Farmer’s Co-op (two samples per producer). Hay samples will also get evaluated based on physical properties. Top 10 hay samples will get sold during the Hay Show October 1, 2015 at 6:30 AM at the Professional Ag Workers Building located at 957 Connally Street in Sulphur Springs. Proceeds of the hay auction will support youth project and scholarships benefiting Hopkins County. For more information contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at [email protected].

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Mario Villarino DVM, Ph.D.
Hopkins County Extension Agent for Ag and NR
1200B Houston Street
Sulphur Springs, Texas 75482

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