Forage FAQs

IMG_4516_425pxHow much sample do I need to send?

Typically, one pound (0.5 kg) of a wet sample will suffice. A good guide is to completely fill a one quart plastic Zip-Loc bag with wet or dry sample.

Q. Should I freeze wet samples?

a. Silages – if the sample will spend more than 6 days in transit, it would be wise to freeze the sample prior to shipping.
b. Pasture – freeze prior to shipping.
c. VFA – if you are submitting a sample for a fermentation analysis and it will spend more than 2 days in transit, freeze prior to shipping.
d. If you have any doubts, freezing wet samples will help prevent any marked chemical changes that might occur during shipping.

How can I access results?

Results are available by mail, fax, e-mail or from our electronic bulletin board system known as the LOOP.

Why is dry matter determined at the farm sometimes different from the lab dry matter?

a. Sometimes moisture will condense out of the sample during transit. The will cause the lab DM to be higher.
b. Often when a sample is dried at the farm, is not dried down completely to 100% dry. In the lab, two dry matters are performed on wet samples. First, the dry matter is determined after drying the sample in an oven. At this point, the sample is generally 94 – 97% dry. A second dry matter analysis is then performed to determine this residual dry matter of the sample. Finally, the two dry matters are multiplied together to determine the actual dry matter. This would cause the lab DM to be lower than the farm DM.

 I split my sample and sent it to two labs and got dissimilar results. How come?

It is very difficult to equitably split an unground sample. This is particularly true for hay samples. Leaves are small and very brittle and easily separate from the sample during the splitting process. The only way to get a true split is for a sample to be mixed, dried and finely ground. This homogenizes the sample and makes it easier to sub sample and split. Many laboratories participate in sample check programs. The same sample is sent to each participating lab. The results are then compared to one another. These samples are always dried and ground to be sure that each lab receives a representative subsample.

How is energy determined?

Energy is estimated by the laboratory using a series of equations. At Dairy One, the multiple component summative approach forms the foundation for our ruminant energy prediction systems. See Newsletters Nos. 2223, and Fact sheet NRC 2001 Energy Values for more information.

Why must water samples be received within 24 hours?

Bacterial populations may propagate during this time causing high counts. Additionally, if nitrates are present, certain bacteria may consume these thereby artificially lowering the nitrate level.

What criteria are used to distinguish between legume, mixed mainly legume (MML), mixed mainly grass (MMG) and grass hays and haylages?

a. Legume = any sample containing 85% or more legumes.
b. MML = 50% – 85% legume.
c. MMG = 50% – 85% grass.
d. Grass = greater than 85% grass.

Why can’t all samples be analyzed by NIR?

NIR analysis is a calibration dependent technology. This means that it can only analyze samples for which it has been previously calibrated. A database of several hundred to several thousand representative samples must first be established. This information is used to develop the calibrations. See also NIR Services and NIR Applicability Chart.

At what temperature are samples dried?

Samples are dried at 60 C (140 F). Drying at higher temperatures can cause “heat damaged protein”. This will artificially inflate the ADICP or bound protein value making the sample look worse than it is.

How do I microwave dry my sample?

Refer to fact sheet on microwave drying.

My e-mail result often arrives in a crazy format. Can I fix it?

Depending upon your software, highlight the whole document or select all under Edit. Then, change your font to Courier or another “fixed space” font and change the font size to 8,9 or 10. This should put everything in line. You may also need to insert page breaks.

Why is it necessary to complete an individual information sheet for each sample or a multi-sheet if I send in more than one sample?

To insure that your samples are properly identified and receive the analyses that you intended.

Why do I need to write descriptions on info sheets and the sample bags?

It enables us to match the description on the bag with the final report. For example, suppose Fred’s Feed Mill sends in two haylage samples, one for farmer Jones and the second for farmer Smith. The sample information sheets are clearly marked, but the bags are not. We would have no idea which sample belongs to who. Clearly marking the bag and the information sheet would eliminate this problem.

Why is my sample called “damp” hay if I think it is dry?

Prior to analysis, samples must be ground. Dry samples can be ground directly upon arrival. Wet samples must be dried first. Hay that is less than 85% dry matter has to be dried first for proper grinding. These are identified as “damp hays” to signal the lab that they must be dried.

How much water do I need to send for a water test?

You should send at least 8 oz. (250 ml) to have enough sample to do all the requested testing. See Water Sampling.

Should I take any additional precautions when shipping a manure sample?

Always freeze the sample. Be sure the outside of the manure container is clean and securely fasten the lid. For additional security, further seal the lid with tape. Take all preventative measures to prevent the container from spilling during transit. A spilled sample is ruined as well as damaging other packages in the shipment. It’s a sure fire way to earn the ire of a FedEx, UPS or Postal worker. See Manure Sampling for complete shipping information.

Why do I get Ration Balancer (11) package when I request an NIR package?

NIR analyses are a calibration dependent technology. This means that it can only analyze samples for which it has been previously calibrated. See NIR Applicability information. If an NIR analysis not applicable to your sample, the default wet chemistry analysis is the (11) Ration Balancer.

What services are assigned if no service is selected by the customer?

If NIR is applicable to the sample, the sample receives the (03) NIR package. If NIR is not applicable, the sample receives the (11) Ration Balancer.

What analytical methods were used to determine the components in my sample?

Refer to Procedures on the web site for detailed information on the Dairy One Forage Lab Analytical Procedures.

How do I convert % Nitrate ion (NO3) to ppm Nitrate-Nitrogen (NO3-N)?

Convert as follows:
a. % NO3 / 4.4 = % NO3-N
b. % NO3-N x 10,000 = ppm NO3-N

When submitting a manure sample, why is it necessary to leave empty space in the container?

a. Microbial activity in manure typically results in gas production. Placing manure in a closed container will result in an accumulation of gases. Leaving space in the container will allow for expansion due to gas production thereby minimizing the chance of the container bursting and spilling the contents while in transit to the lab.
b. It will also allow for the expansion of the sample during freezing.

I don’t like placing manure samples in my freezer. Is it really necessary to freeze my manure sample?

Yes, freezing will prevent marked changes in the composition of the manure. It will also decrease microbial activity in the sample and limit gas production, again minimizing potential problems during transit.

My results for a particular sample are unexpected, what should I do?

a. Many times, unexpected results are due to sampling error. Always insure you follow the good sampling procedures. Refer to Taking a Good Sample.
b. We may agree. Check the comment section of the analysis report. It may indicate that certain components were analyzed twice to confirm the reported value(s).
c. Call, fax, or e-mail the lab to discuss the results. We will always try our best to resolve any issues or concerns you may have regarding the results of your sample.

 I requested a volatile fatty acid analysis but cannot find the results. Why?

Check the sample type you submitted. A fermentation or VFA analysis is performed only on ensiled crops, fermented products, or rumen fluid and is typically used to gauge degree of preservation, current management practices, and potential palatability. Lactic, acetic, propionic, and butyric are the end products of fermentation. You would not expect to find these acids on a non-fermented and/or dry feed or forage.

How may I pay for my sample analysis?

Personal check, direct wire transfer, VISA, MasterCard or American Express. If you are planning on submitting samples on a routine basis, an agribusiness account can be established in your name. Account holders are billed on a monthly basis.

International customers generally prefer to pay by credit card. It is the simplest and most efficient means of payment as the currency exchange rates are automatically taken into account.

How soon can I expect results?

Typically, NIR results are available in one day and wet chemistry in two. Wet chemistry samples requiring time intensive analyses (e.g. lignin, IVTD, etc.) require at least 3 days.