Livestock producers need to know the nutritive content of forages such as corn silage and hay they will feed animals this year. Routinely testing is necessary because forage quality changes with growing conditions, and most importantly the stage of maturity at which forages were harvested.
You cannot tell the quality simply by looking at forages. Instead have them tested by a laboratory. Use a forage probe to take representative samples. For example, use a probe to take a sample from 20 different bales when testing hay or balage.
Once forages are tested, use the results to balance rations.
Otherwise, you could have decreased performance in the form of lower weight gain, milk production or reproductive efficiency that might not show up until later. All this can be translated into lower net income for your farm operation.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has a hay testing program where they will come to your farm and take hay samples and run the tests for you for a fee of $10 per lot. An example of a lot would be a first cutting of alfalfa/grass, or different fields, etc. For more information on having your hay tested you can call the Kentucky Department of Agriculture at 1-800-248-4628.