THE importance of testing crop hay for quality has been highlighted by recent variable results in New South Wales.
Farmers who made hay from this season’s failed crops are finding variations in feed quality, as tests reveal the value of their fodder, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
NSW DPI Feed Quality Service analytical chemist, Richard Meyer, said variable nutrition levels in 2017 canola hay and silage samples confirmed the importance of testing fodder.
“Protein levels varied from a low 6.8 percent to a very high 23.9 per cent, and metabolisable energy ranged from 8.2 to 10.6 megajoules per kilogram.
“Variable quality is common in failed canola crops – feed quality declines as plants mature and delayed harvest dates should alert farmers to test fodder,” Mr Meyer said.
“Nutrition levels are influenced by the leaf-to-stem ratio, in general, higher leaf and pod content delivers higher protein and energy values.”
Canola nitrate levels should be tested to manage toxicity risks to animals – some samples had levels over 5000 milligrams per kilogram and care should be taken in feeding stock.
NSW DPI sheep production research officer, Edward Clayton, said producers with insufficient pasture or forage crops will need to fill feed gaps with fodder reserves this season.
“Failed cereal and canola crops can be a valuable resource in filling the gap,” Dr Clayton said.
“Most importantly, producers who are feeding stock need to know the nutritional value of their feed to ensure they can meet the nutritional needs of livestock.
“We advise farmers to seek out an accredited feed quality laboratory, especially if they intend to purchase fodder.”
Based at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute, FQS has an ‘A’ rating from the Australian Fodder Industry Association Fodder Testing Proficiency Program and is accredited by NATA.
NSW DPI said FQS is the only facility in Australia which integrates research and commercial feed testing, and delivers seasonal ranges and average values for fodder and measurements of protein, metabolisable energy, fibre content and water soluble carbohydrate levels.
Additional testing services include nitrate levels, mineral content, prussic acid and mould counts. The service tests all feed types, including pasture, forage, hay, grain, mixed feeds and total mixed rations, and provides information to aid interpretation of feed analysis reports.
Feed sampling kits are available on order from NSW DPI’s website, and directly from NSW DPI and Local Land Services offices.
Source: NSW DPI.