Regardless of how the hay looks or smells, the only way we can determine the exact quality of hay is by having it tested. This is something we can help you with at the Extension office. We can send your hay or “forage” samples to the University of Georgia Forage Lab for testing. There are several different tests that can be run, but the basic analysis reports the crude protein, total digestible nutrients (TDN), crude fiber and nitrate levels. This basic test costs $17 per sample.
The Extension office also has a couple of hay sampling probes that we loaned out to individuals to help them collect good quality samples for testing. It is very important to collect a good “random” sample that will be a good representation of the hay cutting that is being tested.
By testing and determining the quality of your hay, you will know if it will meet the nutritional needs of your cattle or if you need to give them a protein or energy supplement along with the hay.
For more information on sampling and submitting hay samples, contact the Walker County Extension Service at 706-638-2548.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.