Knowing the moisture content in hay is valuable information in limiting costs. Knowing the moisture content in hay is vital in storing and feeding methods to avoid forage loss and moisture and ash content should be known to avoid cattle malnutrition.
Dry matter (DM) is the amount of feed without moisture. This is important in cattle feeding rates. Dry matter is where the nutrition for the cattle is; if unusually wet feed is fed to cattle, they must consume more of it in order to gain the same amount of dry matter as a dryer feed would contain. If the dry matter content is unknown, the risk of underfeeding or overfeeding is possible. Underfed cattle will produce less milk and overfeeding cattle leads to unnecessary feeding costs, which in large herds can be considerable.
Knowing moisture content is also valuable in the storage of forage. Storage of wet bales can lead to bacterial and fungal growth. Large bales are recommended to be under 16% moisture, while smaller bales can have up to 20%. Any bales with more than 20% moisture can be prone to heat damage, and bales with over 25% moisture will likely rot. Storing bales without first knowing their moisture content can be a costly gamble.
Knowing mineral content in forage is also valuable to insuring that cattle have a balanced diet. An easy way to know the mineral content is to ash the feed material; all organic compounds are burned away leaving the minerals in the feed. The remaining ash is then calculated as a percentage of dry matter to determine the amount of mineral content in a feed.
Arizona Instrument LLC Computrac® Moisture and Ash Analyzers make obtaining moisture and ash content quick and easy. Our MAX® 4000XL moisture analyzer determines moisture content and our MAX® 5000XL determines both moisture and ash content. With these instruments moisture and ash content can all be tested on site swiftly and efficiently.
Manuel Oropeza, Chemist
Arizona Instrument LLC
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