Hay and forages are one of the most versatile feeds available to Northwest Missouri Farms.  With the decrease in forage acres recently, increased priority will need to be placed on proper utilization of your hay and forages.  The ultimate test of hay and forage quality is how well animals perform.  With this in mind, the hay and forages fed to livestock needs to be palatable for adequate consumption, digestible so livestock can convert for their needs, and free of harmful factors such as mold, toxins, etc, which are harmful to animals consuming them.  Additionally, matching forage quality to animal needs can help moderate feed costs while getting optimum production out of your animals. 

            With the significant value of harvested forages, producing high-quality forages and knowing the value of these forages will allow producers to better utilize their high quality forages in a more efficient manner.  The best way to measure hay and forage quality is to pull a representative sample from your forage supply and test its nutrient content.  This is essential when looking at getting the most production out of your animals and optimizing feeding costs for your operation.  The costs start at around $15 and can provide producers and nutritionist useful information in determining the most efficient way to utilize your forages throughout the year.  If you are interested in learning more or locating a probe for taking representative core samples contact the University of Missouri Extension Center in your area or myself Jim Humphrey, Andrew County Extension Center, (816)324-3147 humphreyjr@missouri.edu.