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Why Test Forage Quality?

For nearly four decades scientists have been refining their ability to test forage quality. This has been done in an effort to improve animal nutrition and consequently animal production. Analytical procedures that previously required a week, or more, to complete can now be done in less than 10 minutes and with more accuracy than before. As the ability to analyze forages has improved, the understanding of how to use the test results to improve animal efficiency and performance has also improved. Unfortunately though, forage quality testing is a valuable management tool that many livestock producers still do not utilize.

Greater net profit is the bottom line for why livestock producers need to know the quality of the forages they are feeding! Not knowing the exact quality of the forage being fed is a two-edged sword that can cut into profits either way it swings. A dairy producer who guesses that the crude protein (CP) content of the haylage is 2% units lower and corn silage is 1% unit lower will be feeding more supplemental protein than is necessary. This extra CP to the ration will add $0.09/cow/day in feed costs. With a herd of 100 cows, this is equivalent to $9.00/day. It would take just a little over 3 days of not knowing the quality of the forages and feeding extra protein, as in this example, to pay for the cost of quality analyses (forage quality testing usually costs less than $15.00/sample).

The other edge of this two-edged sword of not knowing forage quality, is over estimating forage quality. Guessing that forage crude protein is greater than what it actually is resultes in adding insufficient supplemental protein to the ration and saving feed costs. Unfortunately, the cows are being “short changed” on CP which could have a negative impact on milk production, especially in early lactation.

It is also important to note that guessing at fiber and mineral content will also have enormous economical impact. For example, the neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of forages helps determine how much of the forage an animal will consume. Guessing too high or too low can have tremendous implication on intake, animal performance, and health. Knowing the quality of the forage being fed to animals not only saves or makes more money it also allows managers to provide better animal nutrition which will result in greater animal production and improved animal efficiency (lb milk or weight gain per pound of feed consumed).

Knowing the quality of forages when selling or buying them has also proven to be economically smart. At Pennsylvania hay auctions, where the quality of the hay is analyzed, and the results posted on each load prior to the auction confirms the economic value of knowing hay quality. At these auctions, each percentage unit increase in crude protein resulted in $8.00 more per ton. Selling 10 ton of 20% CP hay as 18% CP hay because the quality was not tested will cost the seller about $160! On the other hand, buying 10 ton 18% CP hay as 20% CP hay cost the buyer $160! A similar relationship between quality and price did not occur at hay auctions when the quality of the hay was unknown. Establishing a “fair” price for hay, if you are buying or selling, involves both parties knowing the quality of the hay.

Spring Pasture Walk

Spring Pasture Walk

What: Pasture Walk

Mark your Calendar and call (302) 831-2506 to register by Friday, May 10!!

When: Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Where: Whitehead Cattle Company

1303 Dexter Corner Rd, Townsend, DE 19734

Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Credits: Nutrient Management (0.75) Pesticide credit(1.0)

Come and see how Whitehead Cattle Company uses pasture to effectively feed their beef herd.  Learn how to identify weeds and how to control them in a pasture setting. In addition, learn about soil health and how healthy soil is the key to making farms more productive, profitable and resilient—and better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  Learn how to take a hay sample and visually evaluate hay.  The workshop will also feature a talk on Pesticide safety – responsible decision-making and actions to protect pesticide users, public health, plant and animal health, and the environment

The meeting is free and everyone interested in attending is welcome.  If you have special needs in accessing this program, please call the office two weeks in advance.

To register or request more information, please call our office at (302)831-2506.

Thank you and see you there.  Dan Severson

Welcome and Introductions 6:00-6:05

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Tour of Pastures and Pasture Management 6:05-6:20

George and Lynda Whitehead, Whitehead Cattle Company

Weed Identification and Control in Pastures 6:20-6:50

Quintin Johnson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Pesticide Safety 6:50-7:15

Dr. Kerry Richards, University of Delaware Pesticide Safety Education Program

 

Soil Health 7:15-7:40

Jayme Arthurs, NRCS Research Conservationist

Proper Hay Sampling and How to Visually Evaluate Hay 7:40-7:55

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Wrap up and Evaluations 7:55-8:00

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Spring Pasture Walk

What: Pasture Walk

Mark your Calendar and call (302) 831-2506 to register by Friday, May 10!!

When: Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Where: Whitehead Cattle Company

1303 Dexter Corner Rd, Townsend, DE 19734

Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Credits: Nutrient Management (0.75) Pesticide credit(1.0)

Come and see how Whitehead Cattle Company uses pasture to effectively feed their beef herd.  Learn how to identify weeds and how to control them in a pasture setting. In addition, learn about soil health and how healthy soil is the key to making farms more productive, profitable and resilient—and better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  Learn how to take a hay sample and visually evaluate hay.  The workshop will also feature a talk on Pesticide safety – responsible decision-making and actions to protect pesticide users, public health, plant and animal health, and the environment

The meeting is free and everyone interested in attending is welcome.  If you have special needs in accessing this program, please call the office two weeks in advance.

To register or request more information, please call our office at (302)831-2506.

Thank you and see you there.  Dan Severson

Welcome and Introductions 6:00-6:05

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Tour of Pastures and Pasture Management 6:05-6:20

George and Lynda Whitehead, Whitehead Cattle Company

Weed Identification and Control in Pastures 6:20-6:50

Quintin Johnson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Pesticide Safety 6:50-7:15

Dr. Kerry Richards, University of Delaware Pesticide Safety Education Program

 

Soil Health 7:15-7:40

Jayme Arthurs, NRCS Research Conservationist

Proper Hay Sampling and How to Visually Evaluate Hay 7:40-7:55

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Wrap up and Evaluations 7:55-8:00

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

In The Cattle Markets: Beef Contribution in 2018 from Dairy Cattle

Dairy cattle continue to be a significant contributor to the commercial U.S. beef supply. Despite growing beef cattle inventories since 2014, dairy animals have been a stable source of beef and continue to play a key role in filling U.S. beef demand. In 2018 the dairy sector contributed 5.6 billion pounds (21.0 %) of beef to the U.S. commercial beef supply from finished steers, finished heifers and cull cows. Although down from the peak of 24% in 2015, the dairy cattle contribution is still significant.

In 2018 total U.S. commercial beef production was 26.9 billion pounds, the highest production since 2002. Between 2002 and 2018 U.S. commercial beef production has ranged from a low of 23.7 billion in 2014 to a high of 27.0 billion in 2002, with dairy animals contributing 22% in 2014 and 18% in 2002. The contribution from dairy cattle varies based on the size of the native cattle herd and its contribution to the beef supply, as well as the number of cull dairy cows. The percentage of dairy beef contribution has ranged from 18% to 24%, while the actual pounds of dairy beef contribution have ranged from 4.7 to 5.7 billion pounds.

Finished dairy steers are the largest beef contributor from the dairy industry followed by cull cows and finished heifers.  In 2018 finished dairy steers contributed 3.37 billion pounds (12.6%) to the total pounds of beef harvested. Since 2002 dairy steers have made up between 10.8% and 14.7% annually.  Cull dairy cows contributed 1.8 billion pounds (7.0%) in 2018, and historically have made up from 5.8% and 8.0% of beef production since 2002. Finished dairy heifers contributed 419 million pounds (1.53%) in 2018, historically ranging from 0.6% to 1.7% of total beef production.

Additionally, dairy animals contribute to the amount of prime beef supply. With 85-90% of dairy animals being Holstein, Holstein steers contribute the largest portion of dairy beef. Between 2002 and 2018, Holstein steers have contributed between 32 and 60% of prime beef harvested in the U.S. In 2018 we saw the lowest percentage of prime beef (21.3%) contributed by Holstein steers since our data set began in 2002. Note though that the overall percentage of beef that graded prime increased to its highest level ever in 2018, at 8.3% of total U.S. beef production.

Dairy animals had a significant impact on U.S. beef production in 2018. With inventories of native cattle increasing the percentage of beef from dairy animals has reduced incrementally from the highs of 2015, but still remain a major part of U.S. beef production.

The Markets

Tuesday saw live cattle futures contracts lower, with June futures seeing the greatest decrease on limited trading. The market is concerned with recent trade reports showing year-over-year decreases in trade for both beef and pork.  Cash markets are also weak and may have posted their spring highs. Feeder cattle futures are weak, with May contract at the low.

Trade talks with Japan will add uncertainty to the market. Beef demand is strong, as can be seen in the Cold Storage Report, which reports beef stocks down 23.3 million pounds from February and 13.3 million pounds lower than March 2018.

    Week of Week of Week of
Data Source: USDA-AMS Market News   4/26/19 4/19/19 4/27/18
5-Area Fed Steer all grades, live weight, $/cwt $126.69 $128.42 $123.73
all grades, dressed weight, $/cwt $204.58 $207.76 $196.21
Boxed Beef Choice Price, 600-900 lb., $/cwt $233.49 $232.50 $218.62
Choice-Select Spread, $/cwt $12.83 $12.00 $15.47
700-800 lb. Feeder Steer Montana 3-market, $/cwt $152.91 $156.80 $148.88
Nebraska 7-market, $/cwt $161.24 $160.26 $154.83
Oklahoma 8-market, $/cwt $149.95 $152.07 $146.32
500-600 lb. Feeder Steer Montana 3-market, $/cwt $184.83 $186.21 $186.67
Nebraska 7-market, $/cwt $191.38 $192.07 $190.72
Oklahoma 8-market, $/cwt $177.08 $180.34 $168.40
Feed Grains Corn, Omaha, NE, $/bu (Thursday) $3.54 $3.58 $3.74
DDGS, Nebraska, $/ton $131.50 $146.00 $170.00

Breeding Cows on Fescue can be Tricky

For spring calving herds, getting cows bred in the late spring and early to midsummer on toxic tall fescue pastures can be a challenge.

“I personally prefer fall calving, but I also believe that we can have successful breeding performance in the spring,” writes Roy Burris, extension beef specialist with the University of Kentucky in an article published in their Off the Hoof newsletter.

Though there are some obstacles to a spring calving strategy, they can be mostly overcome. In Burris’ opinion, one of the biggest deficiencies he sees is not providing cows adequate nutrition during the winter months to get them in good body condition for spring calving and early rebreeding.

Another issue that Burris points to is the fact that lush, watery grass in the early spring might not support regaining body condition that may have been lost during winter.

“Cows should enter the breeding season in good body condition,” Burris notes. “This means a body condition score of 5, which doesn’t always follow our winter-feeding programs. It seems that we sometimes try to rough cows through the winter and hope that spring grass will straighten them out. That is a sure formula for delayed breeding or open cows,” he adds.

Burris says that spring-calving cows on toxic, high-endophyte tall fescue need to conceive early in the breeding season — before late June.

In one University of Kentucky study, cows that were exposed to bulls from mid-April to early June had an 89 percent pregnancy rate. That compared to cows exposed to bulls from mid-June to early August that had a 59 percent pregnancy rate. Burris surmises that the hot midsummer temperatures coupled with the elevated levels of fescue toxin (ergovaline) contributed to the reduced and unacceptable reproductive performance.

Short of re-establishing tall fescue pastures, it’s difficult to change the inherent toxicity that exists; however, Burris points out that not all fescue pastures possess the same toxic ergovaline levels. He suggests testing and identifying those pastures with the lowest ergovaline concentrations and use these areas during times of heat stress and breeding. Stay away from the really “hot” pastures, he adds.

Consider these spring-planted forage options

he challenging growing conditions of 2018 have left many dairy farms short on forage supplies. So, going into the 2019 growing season, what are some options to bolster forage inventories?

Mark Sulc, Ohio State University (OSU) Extension forage specialist, and Bill Weiss, OSU Extension dairy specialist, discuss the options available to farmers and some considerations to keep in mind in an article published in the Buckeye Dairy News newsletter.

Options

The authors emphasize that corn silage is the number one choice for an annual forage in terms of overall yield and nutritive value. The following options are acceptable short-season forages that can be used to make ends meet, especially if alfalfa winterkill is an issue.

  • Oats: Better adapted to cool, wet soils, and there are several forage varieties available.
  • Spring barley: Usually produces tonnage a little lower than oats or triticale and performs best on well-drained soils. Barley is the earliest maturing for small grains planted in the spring.
  • Spring triticale: A cross between wheat and rye. It is well adapted across a variety of soils and tolerates a low soil pH better than wheat but not to the extent of rye.
  • Italian ryegrass: A biennial with a possible second year production, depending on winter conditions. It is quick to establish and provides high yields of high-quality forage. Forage will be ready to harvest 60 days following seeding and then at 25- to 30-day intervals following for the rest of the first year.

“Plant high-quality seed of a named variety to avoid unpleasant surprises,” the authors recommend. For small grain mixes, reduce the seeding rate of each component to 70 percent of the full rate. Forage peas can be added to the mix to raise crude protein levels.

Small grains can be planted 1.5 inches deep as early as soil conditions allow, while Italian ryegrass should be planted between April 1 and May 1 no more than 0.5 inches deep.

“A burn down application of glyphosate is a cost-effective weed control practice prior to planting,” the authors comment. Additional nitrogen may be needed at 30 to 50 pounds per acre at planting, but manure application can reduce some or all of this needed nitrogen. Italian ryegrass will need about 50 pounds per acre after the first or second harvest.

Harvest timing matters

“Maturity affects composition more than species does,” the authors state. The nutritional value of small grain forages declines rapidly with maturity.

When harvested at the preboot stage, small grain forages will have around 20 percent crude protein (CP), which varies with the amount of additional nitrogen applied. It will usually test about 40 percent neutral detergent fiber (NDF), 30 percent acid detergent fiber (ADF), and have an in vitro digestibility of around 80 percent. Dry matter (DM) yields will range between 1.5 and 2.4 tons per acre.

“Small grain forages harvested in the boot stage have energy concentrations similar to corn silage but with greater concentrations of protein,” the authors explain.

At the milk stage, plants have an average of 12 percent CP, 48 percent NDF, 35 percent ADF, and an in vitro digestibility of 62 percent; they have about 10 percent less energy than corn silage. This nutritional content is similar to alfalfa. Dry matter yields generally range from 3 to 4 tons per acre.

According to the authors, Italian ryegrass planted in central Ohio produced 2.5 to 4.6 tons of DM per acre in the first year and 1 to 4.5 tons of DM per acre in the second. An NDF content of around 50 percent and CP concentrations between 12 and 16 percent can be expected.

If Italian ryegrass is fed as the sole source of forage, milk production will be less than what is seen with corn silage. But according to the authors, if it comprises 15 to 20 percent of the diet’s DM, milk production, composition, and feed efficiency are good. The authors do warn that ryegrass is typically high in potassium, so make sure to supplement magnesium.

Above all, the authors recommend testing all harvested forages to provide accurate nutritional values for balancing rations.

Tough to dry

If mechanically harvesting, chopping and ensiling or making baleage are the best options; getting the material to wilt enough for dry bales is a challenge.

Grazing is an effective and affordable alternative to utilizing these forages. Small grains that are young and lush can cause bloat, so feeding a high-quality grass hay, silage, or bloat preventative can help.

To reduce potential problems with off-flavored milk, remove lactating dairy cattle from small grain forages at least two hours prior to milking.


Use Science to Increase Forage Yield

By: Gary Bates, Professor and Director, University of Tennessee Beef and Forage Center

Everyone wants to increase yield.  Usually it means providing more of some type of input.  Maybe more fertilizer, or irrigation, or some other thing that will make plants grow at a faster rate.  But there is a simple way to make our pastures grow faster and produce greater yield.  It involves simply understanding and manipulating a simple principle of plant physiology.  That principle is that plants grow at the fastest rate when they have plenty of leaves to capture sunlight, and the leaves are relatively young so they are very efficient at the photosynthetic process.

Figure 1 illustrates the three phases of plant growth.  In phase 1, the plant doesn’t have much leaf area to capture sunlight.  In order to grow leaves, it has to take stored energy from the roots and crown of the plant for the growth.  It then moves into phase 2, when the plant has plenty of young, efficient leaves.  During this phase, the plant produces plenty of energy for growth, as well as replace the stored energy used during phase 1.  As the plant continues to grow, the leaves get older and less efficient at photosynthesis.  The plant also produces a seedhead, which means it is trying to produce seed instead of leaves.  This results in a decrease in the growth rate of the plant.


Figure 1. Three phases of plant growth

A simple way to increase the yield of a pasture is to concentrate on keeping your grasses in the phase 2 of plant growth.  That means to make sure you leave enough leaf area so the plants can capture plenty of sunlight.  But don’t let the plants go to a reproductive state, meaning they are producing seedheads.  Staying in phase 2 will improve yield, because that is the phase where the growth rate is the highest.

How do you accomplish that?  You have to have some type of rotational grazing program, where you control where the animals graze and how long they stay in the paddock.  If you find that the forage growth is getting ahead of you in the spring, then cut hay from some of the fields.  If you find forage growth is getting slow during the summer, you can do a better job preventing overgrazing.

There is no need to make rotational grazing extremely complicated.  The principle is controlling plant growth through where the animals graze.  This will ultimately improve yield, plant persistence, and the production of forage and beef on your farm.

Researching varieties pays dividends

While it may still be winter, the time to start thinking about spring planting is now. A part of that thinking and planning process is choosing adapted and high-performance forage varieties.

In The Ohio State University (OSU) Ohio Beef Cattle Letter, OSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator Christine Gelley discusses what to keep in mind when selecting future forage genetics for your farm or ranch.

Know the difference

Let’s begin with a quick review about the differences between species, varieties, and cultivars.

In plant terms, a species is a plant that is distinctly different from other plants in features and characteristics, meaning that other plants of the same species will share similar characteristics. For example, think red clover versus ladino clover; both are clovers, but two distinctly different species.

A variety is a variation of a plant characteristic that still falls within the range of characteristics of a species. “Think of varieties as species variations that occur in nature without human interaction,” Gelley explains.

While varieties are naturally occurring, humans select for cultivars. These cultivars often bear a trade name that is marketed by the seed company. In spite of the difference between a variety and a cultivar, it remains a common practice for a cultivar to be referred to as a variety.

“By the time you are ready to shop for seed, have your species selected and a few potential cultivars on your list of acceptable choices,” Gelley advises.

Regional requirements

To narrow down your choices even further, look at results of regionally conducted forage variety tests. “If you are farming in Ohio and shopping based on variety performance trials conducted in Tennessee, you may end up unsatisfied with your results,” Gelley explains.

Pay attention to variables in the trial, including total rainfall, soil and air temperatures, soil type, fertilizer and pesticide applications, and the number of years evaluated. Trials that were conducted over the span of several years are typically more trustworthy.

Also consider who is conducting the trials. Many land-grant universities conduct forage trials and are unbiased. Performance trials by seed companies can be reliable, but keep in mind that they are trying to get you to buy their product instead of a competitor’s.

Know the supplier

Once you have a short list of varieties that will fit your farm and needs, shop with a reputable supplier. They should have clean facilities, knowledgeable staff, and good customer service.

“Contact the seed dealer with your cultivar list and have a conversation about what you are looking for and what they can offer,” Gelley recommends. She also advises looking at the seed tags and comparing production dates, germination rates, and the percentage of pure live seed.

“For your best chance at success, do your research before you shop, rather than settling for whatever is in stock at the local co-op,” Gelley says.

Keep records

After selecting, purchasing, and planting your cultivar, keep note of observations you make throughout the year. This includes seeding date, planting rate and depth, weather conditions, germination success or failure, weed pressure, and animal preference.

Perform your own experiment

“If you can’t decide between one cultivar and another, get more than one and start your own on-farm research project,” Gelley suggests.

Plant the cultivars in the same location under similar conditions. As you go through their production cycle, apply the same inputs and harvest the same way all while taking notes and making observations. The results may surprise you.


British Cows Get Own Tinder-Style App for Breeding

Farmers swipe right on Tudder mobile app to find matches for cows. ( Tudder )

Cows and bulls searching for “moo love” now have a mobile app to help their breeders.

A U.K. farming startup introduced a Tinder-style app, called Tudder, that lets farmers find breeding matches by viewing pictures of cattle with details of their age, location and owner. Users hear a mooing sound as they swipe — right to show they’re interested or left to reject possible matches.

Hectare, which designed the app, says it “seeks to unite sheepish farm animals with their soulmates.” Selling animals using social media can speed up a process that often involves transporting animals long distances for breeding.

“Tudder is a new swipe-led matchmaking app, helping farm animals across the U.K. find breeding partners in the quest for moo love,” according to the Apple app store description.

Farmers that swipe right on an image of a particular cow — or group of cows — are directed to Hectare’s livestock-buying website, with a chance to contact the owner or make an offer. The listing website includes information on the animal’s character and any health issues.

Working Bull

Profile descriptions range from “nice big strong sorts make nice suckler cows” to “quiet well grown young bull ready to work,” and farmers can also restrict their online search by whether the animal is organic, pedigree or on a farm where tuberculosis has been detected.

Marcus Lampard, a farmer in Carmarthenshire in southwest Wales, has one pedigree beef shorthorn breeding bull listed on the app and says it’s a lot easier to sell livestock online.

“Going to market is a nuisance,” he said by telephone. “If I go to an open market with a bull, and then maybe bring it back, it shuts everything down on the farm for at least two weeks.’’

Lampard, 76, said his daughter lists the cows online for him. “At my age we think we’re quite techy, but our grandchildren think we’re hopeless,” he said.

Hectare raised over 3 million pounds ($3.9 million) from investors including government programs, author Richard Koch and tennis player Andy Murray, according to its website.

About a third of U.K. farms use Hectare’s platforms to trade livestock and cereals, Chief Executive Officer Doug Bairner said by email, after the app was described in the Sunday Times.

“Matching breeding livestock online should be even easier than matching people,” Bairner said. “Sheep breeding is similarly data driven so maybe ‘ewe-Harmony’ should be next.”

Quick Test for TMR Dry Matter

Dan Severson

University of Delaware Extension

 

A total mixed ration (TMR) is defined as a method of feeding cows that combines feeds formulated to a specific nutrient content into a single feed mix which contains forages, grains, protein sources, minerals vitamins and feed additives. This method of feeding has been highly adopted since the 1950’s because it allows cows to consume a nutritionally balanced meal with every bite. Feeding a TMR has both advantages and disadvantages.

 

The main advantage of feeding a TMR is improved feed efficiency. Each mouthful contains a balanced ration that leads to higher milk production and less metabolic upsets. In addition, the ability to use a variety of products to meet the nutritional demands of the cow allows flexibility in food sources, allowing for savings in ration building. The purchase of commodities in bulk is also often less expensive, adding further savings. Furthermore, the use of less favorable feeds can be masked by mixing all the ingredients with no reduction in feed consumption. TMR also lends itself well to mechanization.

 

However, the cost of equipment to implement a TMR can be a major disadvantage. Also, all cows in the group get the same ration. Individual feeding is not possible, so cows in a group should be of similar milk production, stage of lactation and body condition. Moreover, a TMR may not be economical for all herds by reason of facility design or use of pasture.

 

Dairy rations are formulated on a dry matter (DM) basis and the amount of each feed fed is on an as is or as fed (AF) basis. Feeding feed ingredients according to weight is only accurate if the moisture content of the feed is accounted for. Small changes in DM will change the nutrient profile of the ration. For example, a ration that is formulated to provide 25 pounds of DM per cow with corn silage at 35 percent DM. However, the actual corn silage content is 32 percent DM. This would leave the cow short on feed, resulting in a reduction in milk production and potential health problems.

 

As luck would have it, the DM content of feeds can be measured on the farm. The most commonly used methods of measuring DM are the Koster moisture tester or a microwave oven. However, a new quick test using a kitchen air fryer was recently demonstrated at the 2018 World Dairy Expo. This is a preferred alternative as it does not have to be watched because there is no way to accidentally start a fire. This new method also traps the fines inside the fryer enabling a more accurate DM analysis. The specifics for determining the DM of your TMR are as follows:

 

  • Weigh 100 grams of representative sample
  • Place the sample in the Air Fryer
  • Set the fryer to 250⁰F
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes
  • Record the weight of the dry sample
  • Calculate the DM content

 

To find the DM you will need to do some math – don’t worry, it is simple math. To figure out the DM content you will use the following equation:

 

Final Dry Weight (grams) / Initial Wet Weight (grams) X 100 = %DM

 

Here are the steps in determining DM of a TMR sample:

 

Set up your scale – set it to grams and tare to zero. Then weigh out 100 grams.

 

             

 

 

Place the sample in the air fryer basket.  Turn on your air fryer: set the temperature to 250⁰F and the timer to 30 minutes.

 

                     

 

Record your final weight.  For this example, it was 45 grams. Now do the math to figure out the DM content.

 

 

 

Do you remember the equation?

 

Final Dry Weight (grams) / Initial Wet Weight (grams) X100 = %DM

 

The final dry weight for this sample is 45 grams.  Divide the 45 grams by the initial weight of 100 grams and multiply by 100 and you get 45% DM.

 

It is important to measure the DM content to maintain a more consistent diet and meet the needs of the animals.  The determination of DM should be used to adjust rations on a routine basis. The air fryer method is an easy way to perform DM analysis on the farm. The air fryer that was used for the DM testing was bought for less than $100 at a local box store. If your scale does not have grams, you can use ounces. There are roughly 28.35 grams in an ounce – 3.5 ounces equals 100 grams. The math equation will still be the same just change the grams to ounces. We currently have an air fryer located in the New Castle County Extension office, if you would like to try this method or you can use the Koster moisture tester located in Kent County Extension office. Feel free to contact me if interested or with any questions.

 

References available upon request.