How to measure forage quality?

Within a given feed, NDF is a good measure of feed quality and plant maturity. For legume forages, NDF content below 40% would be considered good quality, while above 50% would be considered poor. For grass forages, NDF < 50% would be considered high quality and > 60% as low quality.

What is forage quality?

Forage quality is a broader term that not only includes nutritive value but also forage intake. In other words, how much crude protein concentration, available energy, and minerals are in the forage tissue, but most importantly, animal performance depends on the intake of the forage.

How do you test hay quality?

The best technique for sampling baled hay is to use a mechanical coring probe. The serrated edge of the probe is placed on the side of a hay bale that is most resistant to puncture. This is usually the round side of a round hay bale or the small end of a square bale. A sample is obtained by drilling with a brace.

Which forage is in the highest quality?

Legumes generally produce higher quality forage than grasses. This is because legumes usually have less fiber and favor higher intake than grasses.

How do you improve forage quality?

By offering livestock mixed grazing pastures or blending feeds, nutritional quality can be enhanced. For example, alfalfa is the highest-yielding perennial forage legume and produces more protein per unit area than other forage legumes and so can be grown alone or in combination with a range of different grass species.

What are three important factors for forage quality?

Six major factors affecting forage quality (not yield), ranked by their impact on forage quality, include: maturity, crop species, harvest and storage, environment, soil fertility, and variety. The relative importance of these factors, and some exceptions to the ranking, are described as follows.

What is indicated by discoloration of bales of hay?

Moisture Content: The moisture content of baled hay is approximately 16 percent. When cutting open a sample bale, look for dark discoloration which can indicate mold. While mold is not always visible, in most cases you can smell it. A sharp, musty odor is a clear sign of mold.

What is considered premium hay?

Premium: Early maturity, i.e., pre-bloom in legumes and pre-head in grass hays, extra leafy and fine-stemmed – factors indicative of a high nutritive content. Hay is green and free of damage.

Why is forage quality important?

The higher the content and digestibility of the nutrients, the higher the quality of the forage. Forage quality has also been shown to have an effect on dry matter consumption, especially when low-quality forages are being fed.

What is a good relative forage quality?

Hay with a Relative Forage Quality index of less than 90 should not be considered acceptable for any class of livestock. Hay with a RFQ of 90 to 110 is acceptable, but may need supplementation depending on the class of livestock.

What are the important characteristics of good quality forage?

The higher the content and digestibility of the nutrients, the higher the quality of the forage. The highest-quality and most digestible forage is young herbage, because it contains the lowest amount of structural carbohydrates (cellulose, hemicellulose) and lignin.

What are the key factors influencing forage quality?

Which is the best way to determine the quality of forage?

Forage fiber content is the primary detractor to high intake and nutrient availability. Relative to assessing forage quality, fiber tests are our single best method, though additional tests for protein and moisture can help to further characterize the forage.

How much does it cost to test for forage quality?

The basic tests to evaluate forage quality described below can be determined by most laboratories at a cost between $12 and $30 depending upon methodology used (wet chemistry vs. NIR) and number of tests performed. Figure 1. Comparison of essential nutrients, feed chemical composition, and analytical testing procedures.

How does forage quality affect a feeding program?

In a previous column, the concept of forage quality was defined and its affect on a feeding program described. Low quality forages have less available nutrients, thus require larger amounts of supplements to be added.

What kind of appraisal is needed for forage?

Appraisal of a forage based on sight, smell, and touch can provide some general information, but chemical analyses are needed to asses the economic potential of the forage. At a recent forage meeting, approximately 80 forage producers and industry people were asked to rank four bales of hay by a visual appraisal of their forage quality.