Feed Sampling

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • A feed analysis is only as good as the sample submitted. Provide individual samples for each type of feed available. Make sure the sample is representative of each lot of feed.
  • For forage samples, use a commercial forage sampler. Take core samples at random from 15-20 bales at random for each lot of hay. If mixtures of different forages are being fed, sample the feeds in proportion to approximate the feed offered to the stock. It is preferred to sample each feed individually.
  • Square bales are sampled at the end of the bale, between the two twines, pushing the full length of the sampler tube into the bale.
  • Round bales are sampled at the rounded side of the bale, at the largest diameter (center) of the bale. Place all collected core samples in a container and mix prior to preparation of the sample for submission.
  • Silage samples need to be taken from several locations on the silage pit, pile, or tube. Tightly pack the sample in a plastic bag, excluding as much air as possible. Seal the sample and freeze the sample prior to submission to a lab. Freezing prevents fermentation and degradation of the sample prior to drying and analysis. Submit samples early in the week to prevent spoilage from transportation delays over a weekend.
  • Samples from an open silage pit, pile or tube should be taken from the freshest part of the face. Collect small quantities from various sites from the face to establish a composite sample. Mix thoroughly to provide a representative sample.
  • Where the silo, pit or tube is not opened, a series of four to six holes can be dug from the top with a posthole auger or suitable equipment. Remove spoiled silage prior to taking the sample. Mix the samples together and submit a representative sample. Sample holes need to be repacked with the silage that had been removed and the plastic resealed to prevent spoilage.
  • Obtaining a representative sample from pastures is difficult because of variability in soil fertility, moisture, plant growth stage, and variation in plant types present. In evenly grazed pastures, sample by establishing a grid plan and collect the forage from a quarter square meter from 5 to 10 predetermined grid points based on pasture size. Mix all the collected forage and submit a representative sample for analysis.
  • Proper handling of the sample between the farm and laboratory ensures the most accurate results.
    • Ensure the sample size is adequate. Consult with the feed lab for appropriate quantity.
    • Use plastic bags in all cases to obtain accurate feed moisture levels.
  • Label the sample with a description that is meaningful. This could be by land identification, name, or storage location at the farm. Use this description on the sample submission forms so the information is on the test report.
Fact Sheets

Collecting Forage Samples for Analysis - available in PDF format only

Forage Testing for Beef Cattle - available in PDF format only

Importance of Feed Testing and How to Obtain a Proper Sample - Video

Know Your Forages

Sampling Feed For Analysis - available in PDF format only

Star Quality Samplers

Recommended Principles for Proper Hay Sampling

Research Papers

Lipid content and fatty acid composition of grasses sampled on different dates through the early part of the growing season

Let us know of more good research papers for this topic.
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Mary Ann Nelson.
This information published to the web on March 20, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 23, 2017.

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