Recently, because of the softness of the hay market, growers have become more aware of differences in feed quality between fields. Buyers have raised their standards and are paying the high price only for the premium testing hay. A difference in 10 point in RFV can be as much as $80.00 per ton.
In response, growers have begun sampling bales in the field prior to stacking. Premium bales are stacked together and lower quality bales are stacked separately. The feed analysis gives managers the information needed to cull lower testing bales and stack the premium testing bales for the higher feed test.
Quick feed analysis turn around time is key. Many laboratories provide same day results. Stanworth policy is “in by 10 AM, out by 5 PM.
The old industrial “one size” fits doesn’t always apply to desert hay production. Differences in stand age, variety, soil type, irrigation schedule, nutrient levels, and soil salinity all contribute to variability in feed quality from field to field. Whatever the reason, sampling the bales in the field prior to stacking is helping cagey growers be more competitive and return more greenbacks to the ranch.