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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Don't forget to test your feeds this spring.

Dairy Pipeline: March 1999

Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition
Virginia Tech
(540) 231-4758

As spring forages are harvested it is important to check them for nutrient content. This includes protein, energy, and perhaps minerals. The Virginia Tech Forage Testing Laboratory can do a basic analysis for dry matter, crude protein, acid detergent fiber, and estimated energy for $10/sample. For an addition $7/sample calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and sulfur can be determined. An additional $3/sample will also give content of zinc, copper, manganese, and iron. Other analyses offered by the lab include nitrates ($5), fat or ether extract ($7), soluble protein ($4), lignin ($7), and neutral detergent fiber ($4).

Nitrates are usually determined on forages during periods of drought stress. High levels can result in toxicity and dead animals. Plants in the sorghum family are particularly susceptible to nitrate accumulation.

A fat determination would not normally be conducted on forages but might be needed on oilseeds such as cottonseeds or soybeans. Soluble protein might be beneficial when evaluating silage. High levels can be a result of wet silage that has undergone extensive fermentation.

Lignin can give an indication of digestibility of plant fiber. High levels of lignin results in reduced digestibility and may be the cause of reduced milk on silage that was harvested last fall.

Neutral detergent fiber gives an indication of intake potential of feeds. High neutral detergent fiber results in reduced intakes.

If you are interested in a feed analysis contact the lab at (540) 231-6870.

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