Below are the four most common mistakes made when submitting forage samples to commercial labs.
- Not sending the sample in a sealed container
It is imperative that moisture is not lost from the sample during shipment to the lab. Ziplock bags are provided for sample submission by most laboratories or use your own ziplock freezer bag. It is important to inspect the bag for holes and ensure it is sealed prior to shipment. The dry matter (DM) content of the forage is used to calculate all lab constituents and is essential in calculating correct ration balancing with the forage. Percent DM = 100 – %moisture.
- Not including contact information
If you are submitting a sample to a commercial lab, it is implied that you would like to receive a forage quality report. Many people will mail samples to the lab without enough information and then wonder where their results are. Add address, email, and even include your phone number in case the lab personnel have questions about your sample.
- Not indicating which analyses are being requested
If submitting a feed or forage sample to the laboratory, it is key to let them know what constituents you need to see on your report. If you fail to indicate what the lab needs to do, they will likely assume a basic package, which may or may not include the nutrients you wanted to see on your report. Most labs retain a portion of the sample for a short period of time and they can conduct additional analysis or rerun your sample if you ask.
- Not including a description of the forage
It is important to tell the lab what kind of forage you are submitting. This is especially important if you are planning to have your forage analyzed by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Commercial laboratories have different prediction equations for different types of forage.
In conclusion, proper sample handling is key, and the more information you can give the lab, the better.
~ excerpt of article by Rebecca Kern, Progressive Forage Grower—March 2020. Find the full article and sign up to receive your free subscription to Progressive Forage Grower here.