Know What You’re Feeding

The hay is put up, your silage has been chopped and stored, and now you’re ready to feed your livestock through the winter. But at what combination should you be feeding to meet your livestock’s nutritional needs?
 
This is an important question to answer that feed sampling can assist with, according to Scott Kilber, Agtegra Feed Division Manager.
 
“Feed sampling provides nutrient analysis, telling you how much protein, energy, moisture and mineral content is in the feed so you can better utilize home-raised feed to be part of a balanced diet,” he says.
 
Kilber says that about half to two-thirds of the livestock producers he works with utilize feed sampling to make sure their feeds are safe and healthy for their livestock.
 
“You can use feed sampling to analyze feed for different toxicity problems that livestock producers run into,” Kilber says. “This year, with some areas being drought stressed, there’s a potential for high nitrates in sudangrass, millet or even corn.”
 
High nitrates can be a deadly problem. No livestock producer wants to lose an animal just because of what the animal ate.
 
“Determining nutrient levels through feed sampling helps a producer determine if they should avoid feeding that feed altogether or if it should be mixed with other feedstuffs to bring levels down to a safe level for consumption,” says Kilber.
 
Testing Logistics 

If a livestock producer is interested in getting their feed sampled and tested, Kilber says there are a couple of ways to go about it.
 
“The producer can pull samples and bring them in to us and we’ll send them in,” he says. “Or, myself or a Dakotaland Feed sales rep can take the samples.”
 
Results come back after four to seven days, and from there, livestock producers can decide how to use the information.
 
A standard nutrient analysis costs $16 per sample, while nitrate testing costs $11 per sample. Kilber says it’s a small investment for livestock producers to know what they’re feeding to their animals.
 
“Most producers will test between three to six samples,” he says. “Knowing what they’ve got is really important.”