Taking Forage Samples

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Do you know the nutrient composition of the hay you have baled or purchased? If not, you really have no idea what you are feeding your livestock. Profitable livestock production is dependent on quality forage, so consider sampling your hay.

When taking forage samples, grab sampling and core sampling are the methods used. Core sampling is the most effective. Samples should be taken from each lot, or field, and producers should store hay so that each lot can be identified later. Sample bales 4-6 weeks after packaging, as moisture level and other qualities may change.

In grab sampling, bales are opened to reduce leaf shatter, and scissors are used to cut stems into 1” pieces. Do this on 10-12 bales from each lot, mix samples thoroughly, and put a composite sample in the sample bag. About 1 pint of material is sufficient.

Core sampling is done with a metal coring bit with an electric drill, and samples are mixed thoroughly, and a composite sample bagged for analysis. Square bales should be cored from the ends, and round bales from the side, both at right angles.

Sampling kits are available at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Burke County office. If you’d like more information contact Damon Pollard at 828-764-9480 or by email at damon_pollard@ncsu.edu.