By Phil Keegan Dairy Technician

We all know the time and effort that goes into silage and hay making and it would be a pity to go to all that trouble and not make the most of the finished product.

To make the best use of hay and silage we need to know the quality of the product we have made or bought. By knowing the value of the feed we can make better decisions about which animals can best make use of the feed. A feed test can indicate if milk production or growth rates will increase or decrease and how much an animal is likely eat. We can also use the results to determine how much dry matter we have and if we have an opportunity to reduce the use of other more expensive fodder.

The following results for samples submitted by Warrnambool Veterinary clients for the current season show a wide variation in quality. Quality can be influenced by a range of management and seasonal factors but only by feed testing can we measure the result.

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All samples are from predominantly ryegrass pastures. Cereal and high protein fodder samples will vary more and alternative food sources even more. The highest dry matter result of 86% for weighed rolls gave an average dry matter of 262 kgs per roll from a sample rolls that ranged in weight from 294 to 316 kgs. The lowest dry matter result of 45% gave an average dry matter weight per 359 kgs from rolls ranging from 778 - 784 kgs.

You can see that heavier is not always better and to make use of feed testing you also need to know the weight of the bale or the cubic capacity of the stack and relate it to dry matter percentage to calculate how much feed you really have. The biggest range in one lot of rolls was 582 – 784 kgs.

We can core sample your hay or silage and arrange to have it sampled by FeedTest. We can also weigh your rolls or large square bales if there is equipment available to lift them.

If you would like to have your silage or hay sampled and rolls or bales weighed please contact Warrnambool Veterinary on 5561 7666.

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