Feed Testing with ARL

Feed quality testing works out the amount of feed to give your animals.

Why feed test?

To work out the amount of feed to give your animals, for maximum animal performance and the conservation of your valuable feed stocks.
It also helps you to:

  • Achieve your targeted milk solid production, live weight gains and animal reproductive performance
  • Determine the quality of the feed you buy in or conserve

Find out more about how feed testing can help you 

Feed Quality Guide 

How do I sample for feed analysis?

To help ARL provide you with accurate information on the quality of your pasture, silage and other feedstuffs it is vital to take a representative sample of the test material.

Sampling fresh pasture for feed quality analysis should follow the same sampling procedure as sampling pasture for nutrient analysis.

For pasture samples, walk along your chosen transects (lines) taking a handful of pasture every 10-20 metres. Take the sample at animal grazing height.

Each sample should be made up of 15 or more handfuls of pasture. Provide enough sample by filling the sample bag provided (equivalent to 2 litres for a mixed pasture or ½ litre for a clover only sample). Pasture samples are normally taken during periods of active growth (such as during spring or autumn flush), a representative sample of pasture should be taken at grazing height.

Whole plant samples should be taken, with around 2kg of sample sent to ARL.

Compound feed/meal
A representative sample of approximately 500g.

When sampling from conserved feed such as silage or baleage, combining a number of sub-samples will give you an average or representative sample.

Silage and baleage sampling 
If you are sampling maize at harvest particularly if you are buying or selling maize silage on a dry weight basis, ARL recommends that you consult with the Maize Forage Trading Code of Practice. The code outlines best practice for weighing, sampling and testing.

ARL’s dry matter assessment is IANZ accredited with fully traceable standards as recommended by the code of practice.

  • For silage samples, the silage should be ensiled for at least a week for maize and at least four weeks and preferably six weeks for pasture before sampling.
     -In the case of stacks/pits or bales cut a small hole in the plastic cover and after taking samples ensure that you tape over holes in the plastic using silage tape to minimise deterioration in the areas the samples have come from.
  • Core samples are recommended because the edge of the silage pit or bales are likely to have deteriorated to a significant degree in comparison to the core. Take a series of cores with a long silage auger and discard the top portions. If a silage auger is not available take at least 6-10 grab samples of about 200 grams each from various parts of the pit, again avoiding any samples from the edge. These can be combined into the ARL sampling bag provided.
  • If you are sampling bales take the grab samples from the centre of 6 bales. Ensure that the grab samples are taken at least 30 cm into the centre of the pit or bale.
  • If you are sampling from a silage stack once it has been opened, take at least 6-10 grab samples of about 200 grams each from various parts of the stack face ensuring that they are at least 30cm deep, avoiding any material that may have deteriorated.
  • If the sample is from silage currently being fed-out, collect 6-10 grab samples from silage that has only just been taken out of the stack or from a bale that has just been opened.

Urgent Nitrate Testing

After taking the sample

Press or squeeze the sample bag to remove as much of the entrapped air as possible, label and seal the bag tightly.

Complete the submission form provided and put the samples plus the submission form in the pre-paid courier bag and send them to ARL immediately (store in a cool place before dispatch, any delay exposes the sample to excess heat and moisture and will affect the analysis)

Samples should be sent to ARL no later than Thursday to ensure they arrive at the lab on a working day.

ARL has a number of feed analysis suites designed to meet your needs. Simply tick the box on the submission form which best describes your sample.

Feed analysis suites

Fresh pasture, cereal, maize and brassica

Dry matter, crude protein, fat, ash, acid detergent fibre, neutral detergent fibre, soluble sugars, organic matter digestibility, metabolisable energy.

Pasture & cereal silage

Fresh pasture + pH, ammoniacal-N, lactic acid.

Maize silage

Same as pasture/cereal silage but without organic matter digestibility.

Wet chemistry

For feed concentrates, swede and turnip bulbs, compound feed, vegetables and fruit.