Pasture & Forage Feed Quality Testing
New Zealand's pastoral sector has been built on feeding stock with high quality pasture, supplemented at appropriate times of the year with additional feedstuffs to ensure optimal animal health and performance.
About this Testing
Hill Laboratories provides the widest range of feedstuffs testing of any commercial lab in New Zealand, including a range of tests specifically designed to help farmers assess the feed quality of their pasture and forage crops. We use the latest analytical chemistry techniques, including Near Infrared Spectroscopy (‘NIR’), to deliver reliable and accurate results to you as quickly as possible.
Pasture Analysis Profiles
There are several dimensions to pasture analysis that farmers need to consider – energy, protein, fibre, dry matter and mineral content. And some of these dimensions are more important at particular times of the year than others. That is why Hill Laboratories have designed the following range of pasture analysis options.
Pasture or Forage Feed Quality
Farmers need to measure the overall feed balance that their stock are receiving, especially when pasture is being supplemented with other feed types.
The Pasture or Forage Feed Quality Profile (Feed Profile) measures the full range of dry matter, carbohydrate, fibre, energy, digestibility and protein content so these values can be assessed against the feed programme. This profile is a very cost-effective quality assessment that focuses on the main energy components, and does not include mineral composition.
The Feed Profile is ideally suited to monitoring feed quality throughout the season and can be used for pasture or green feed crops like kale, fodder beet, turnips, annual ryegrass, maize, triticale and oats.
Spring Pasture Profile
During spring, animals can be under severe metabolic stress if their mineral intake is imbalanced or if energy levels are low. These metabolic stresses can show themselves in problems such as grass staggers or milk fever. The Spring Pasture Profile provides a comprehensive analysis of the mineral content of the pasture, including chloride and the trace elements molybdenum, cobalt and selenium.
For no extra charge, the Spring Pasture Profile can include an Animal Dietary Mineral Balance (ADMB) Report with key nutrient indices to help assess the risk of grass staggers, bloat and milk fever if requested. And since spring can be a time of peak energy needs for lactating animals, the Spring Pasture Profile also includes measurements of the pasture's metabolisable energy (ME), digestibility and crude protein. The Spring Pasture Profile is available throughout the year.
Example Report: Spring Pasture Profile with requested Animal Dietary Mineral Balance (ADMB) Report
Complete Pasture Profile
As the weather becomes warmer, the threat of metabolic disorders such as grass staggers recedes, and clover growth gets underway. The Complete Pasture Profile then becomes a more attractive option, including a clover-only mineral analysis. The additional clover-only analysis allows farmers to identify any mineral deficiencies in the soil that might be preventing optimum pasture growth.
(Clover is particularly sensitive to such mineral deficiencies.)
Pasture or Forage Feed Quality with Mineral Analysis [Extended Feed Profile]
There will be times when you need a complete picture of your pasture, especially when metabolic disorders are an issue and you're still supplementing pasture with other feeds. Hill Laboratories provides a comprehensive herbage analysis, which combines the Spring Pasture Profile with the Feed Profile. This profile is called an Extended Feed Profile.
The Extended Feed Profile includes analysis of: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, chloride, dry matter, crude protein, ash, acid detergent fibre (ADF), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), soluble sugars, starch, metabolisable energy (ME) and digestibility.
Stock being fed annual ryegrass or brassicas can be susceptible to nitrate poisoning. You can ask Hill Laboratories to add a nitrate test to any of the above pasture or forage feed profiles. Or if you're concerned that your pasture might be deficient in iodine, then we can analyse this mineral too.
Taking a Sample
Feed Sampling Kits (including sample bags, courier bag, instructions and request form) are available from the laboratory. Here are some tips when sampling for pasture feed quality.
A pasture sampler can be purchased from the lab which greatly reduces the risk of sample contamination and makes collecting pasture samples far easier.
Be sure to fill the sample bag, especially if you are collecting pasture for the Complete Pasture Profile. We need at least 500g of herbage sample for mineral test profiles and a 1kg sample for feed quality profiles where dry matter, crude protein, digestibility, starch, energy and other tests are completed.
- For any feed tests use a clean airtight bag or Feed Test Bag.
- Seal the bag well (so that dry matter measurements are accurate and not affected by moisture lost in transit).
- For any plant mineral only tests, use a well sealed Plant Test Bag.
- If mineral and feed quality tests are required, use a clean airtight bag or Feed Test Bag.
- Send samples to the laboratory as soon as they're collected, preferably by courier.
- If you have to hold samples overnight, store them in a refrigerator.
How to Order a TestComplimentary Feedstuff Test Kits
are available from the laboratory. These sample kits contain instructions, an analysis request form, sampling bags and courier bag to send in the samples.
Guides and Supporting Information
Freephone 0508 HILL LAB (44 555 22) or email Ag.CSM@hill-labs.co.nz