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Hay
It was just a little over a year ago that Chuck Powell, a goatpacker from California called our lab regarding his packgoats and urinary calculi. He was reaching out in a last-ditch effort to determine what was going on with his goats. To determine why they were developing urinary calculi. Mr. Powell had already lost...
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As a consultant at a commercial testing laboratory, “Why is my RFV and RFQ different?” is one of the most common questions I receive from producers looking at their forage report. Most often, the question is posed when there is a major difference between the relative feed value (RFV) and relative forage quality (RFQ). The...
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The ultimate question of why Ward Laboratories, INC. has a feed department: Why test feeds? Approximately 2 years ago, in 2020 I tried to answer this question in blog post: Value in feed testing: feed analysis pays off in profits. Here we are 2 years later with drought conditions persisting across western United States. These...
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Utility hay is low quality hay. Typically, hay categorized as utility hay is high in fiber and low in energy and protein. Upon visual inspection, poor quality hay often contains seed pods, if it is a legume species, or seed heads if it is a grass species. Utility hay is hay that has been harvested...
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Acute nitrate toxicity occurs when animals consume high-nitrate forages for a short period of time. Nitrate is converted to nitrite by rumen microbes as an intermediate step in converting the nitrate to microbial protein. Ruminant animals are specifically at risk, as they bring up the feed bolus for chewing and inhale the nitrite. The nitrite...
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brown black and white cows drinking water during daytime
Often, I consult with livestock producers testing forage for their animals. Inevitably there are two numbers on the report they are most concerned with, protein and relative feed value (RFV). Protein is an important value to understand if the forage meets animal requirements. RFV is a useful index to quickly compare or rank forages. However,...
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Ward Laboratories, INC. takes the steps from sample receiving to results reporting to ensure your confidence in NIRS analysis of forages. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is commonplace in commercial feed testing laboratories. Most forage samples are ran by NIRS in our lab. Unfortunately, NIRS results undergo more skepticism than wet chemistry methods. However, NIRS is...
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Grandpa always said he cut the best hay under a full moon. said a hay customer during a report consultation. This customer was not the first this year who was disappointed in her forage quality. Another gentlemen stated, “I was so on the ball this year, up and cutting by 9am!” I certainly feel for...
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Brown mid-rib forage (BMR) varieties have been around since the early 2000s. Yet, I still find producers aren’t sure about what BMR means to their operation. Traits associated with BMR varieties can impact forage quality and animal performance. First, lets define what BMR really is. Then, we can examine how this trait impacts forage quality...
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I receive many phone calls about interpreting a feed report. The interpretation depends on the reason for testing. Some reports help formulate an animals diet. Other reports determine hay quality for buying and selling. At Ward Laboratories, INC. , we provide the Ward Guide to help producers interpret agricultural testing reports. Here are my tips...
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First cutting is starting to come in for NIRS analysis here at Ward Laboratories, INC. That means it’s the season for making hay! So, let’s take a look at how agricultural testing can help producers make quality hay from seeding to feeding! Match the hay production system to resources and environment. Observe the field intended...
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Even before the ‘bomb cyclone’ hit, it was a heartbreaking spring for livestock producers. I was receiving phone calls of late term abortions and lost calves and cows due to poor nutrition. Before these historic floods, Nebraska and surrounding states were already enduring unusually low temperatures and heavy snow fall. Producers were struggling with guidelines...
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The thoroughbred racing season at Fonner Park is quickly approaching. That means feeding race horses for optimal speed. Like other athletes, energy, protein and micro-nutrients are key for optimal performance. Nutritional requirements of horses vary by age, growth stage and training intensity. Maintaining a Body Condition Score of 4-5 throughout development, training and racing is...
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As the animal scientist here at Ward Laboratories, INC. my blog posts typically focus on how feed and forage testing can help producers reach animal production goals. However, at the American Foarage and Grasslands Council Annual Conference, soil sampling pastures came up as one of the top ways producers see as economically beneficial. So, this...
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Last week was the American Forage and Grasslands Council (AFGC) held their annual conference in conjunction with the NIRS Feed and Forage Consortium (NIRSC). I attended the NIRSC workshops. During these workshops, presenters spoke about proper sample preparation for NIRS analysis and how to create and maintian good prediction model equations. Ward Laboratories, INC. strives to consistently...
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I have received several phone calls from producers with concerns about toxic plants or noxious weeds in hay. Most of the time grazing animals avoid these toxic plants, and prefer to as weeds are typically unpalatable. However, when the animal is consuming hay or a mixed ration contaminated by these toxic plants, it is difficult...
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When temperatures dip, it is important to provide extra nutrients at the right time to help livestock fight cold stress.  Cold stress occurs when the environmental temperature is below the animals lower critical temperature. The lower critical temperature is reached when the animal can no longer maintain their internal body temperature through behavioral modifications such...
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Recently, I attended the University of Nebraska State of Beef Conference. One of the speakers was Rick Funston, a reproductive Physiologist at UNL. Dr. Funston reminded producers that when we feed the gestating cow, we aren’t just influencing her performance, but also the future performance of the calf.  This concept is called fetal programming, it emphasizes...
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You may notice that when you drop off a sample for NIRS analysis, you are told the results of hay, forage, silage, or corn grain samples will be done in two days.  However, once in awhile when you check your email at 5 pm two days later and no reports have arrived in your inbox....
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As we move closer and closer to winter and some producers still  haven’t put their hay up, I have received a growing number of questions about windrow grazing.  The typical question I am asked as a feed testing consultant is how sitting in the windrow through the fall and early winter affects the forage quality...
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