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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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It seems like the weather has been nothing but cold since thanksgiving. Unfortunately, that trend is only projected to continue.  That means it is important to feed beef cattle to protect them from the harsh elements. Cold stress occurs when the environmental temperature is below the animals lower critical temperature.The lower critical temperature is reached...
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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 the next day.  However, once in awhile when you check your email at 5 pm the next day, no reports have arrived in your inbox.  Many...
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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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Last week, I attended the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory 19th Annual Open House.  There, agricultural economist Jim Robb touched on the hardships of the drought and forage and pasture availability but drove home the importance of affordable protein supplementation. Jim Robb showed that corn prices have remained steady and are projected to continue along that trend. ...
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We’ve all heard the Luke Bryan song “Rain is a Good Thing”. While it may be a catchy lyric, lack of rain can cause livestock producers to suffer from drought and heat stress issues, while too much rain can leave farmers dealing with flood damage.  This year has been especially testing from those aspects.  The...
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The other day while it was raining cats and dogs outside, a customer asked how that rain would affect his freshly cut alfalfa hay.  Unfortunately, rain after cutting and before bailing only decreases the nutritional value of the hay. As the freshly chopped forage lays in the field getting rained on, water soluble compounds leach...
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Last week I attended both the Colorado Cattlemen’s Annual Convention and the Sandhills Ranch Expo at the Ward Laboratories Inc tradeshow booths.  At both locations, producers had concerns about nitrates.  The climate and weather however were contrasting conditions.  Colorado producers wondered how drought stress might affect the nitrate levels in their forages, while Nebraska and...
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With the first cutting of hay coming off fields in southern states, I am reminded that proper hay sampling procedures are a must.  Today I was brought a sample from a single bale of mixed hay and asked to sort the alfalfa from the grass hay and use those as individual, separate samples.  I was...
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Soon we will be entering forage grazing and harvesting season. Although many producers test their hay or silages when buying and selling, there is still a group who either only test for nitrate when they believe they may be having an issue or do not bother to test at all.  There are many benefits to...
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