Hay Testing Time

Lyndall Harned

Boyd County Extension

Agent for Agriculture and

Natural Resources


   It is that time of year again. Well, actually, maybe a little later than some of you remember. It is time to start having your hay and haylage sampled for testing. This can either be for the Easy Kentucky Hay Contest or just for you to know what the quality of your forage is.

   There are some changes this year. First, as you can tell, the sampling will be later than it has been in the past. This is so late cut forage can be tested, too. Some of you who have done this for a long time (this is the 25th year for the testing and contest) will remember that we used to take the samples in August and early September and have the results by the end of the month.

   Well, times and the climate have changed have allowed for hay to be cut later in the year and maybe get an additional cutting. So we have adjusted our times as well.

   This year, in Boyd County, we will be out taking samples the week of September 28, weekdays only and the following week of October 5, with the last day being, Thursday, October 8. Just give us a call at the Boyd County Extension Office to schedule a time for either Presley or myself to come out and take samples.

   Another change, that actually happened last year and is becoming permanent, is that the testing will be done at the UK Princeton lab. It used to be done by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, but they wanted to start charging $10 per sample. We have always done the testing for free and did not want to start having a fee, so the UK lab stepped up and started doing the test.

   From the feedback I have gotten, those who had their forage tested last year, like the feedback they have received from the new lab. It included some things that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture testing did not include in the results.

   There is still a charge for having the testing done, but we have gotten donations and have come up with ways to pay for it without you, the forage producer, having to pay for it.

   One thing that has not changed, is that all of the samples have to be taken by the county Extension Agriculture agent or a program assistant, to be able to get them in the contest and/or tested for free.

   As I said earlier, the last day to have samples taken is Thursday, October 8. The reason is that all samples have to be taken to the UK Robinson Center just outside of Jackson, Kentucky and must be there no later than that Friday, October 9.

   We can also have a ration made up based on the hay test results and whatever else you may be feeding your animals this winter. We can have rations made for cattle, horses or goats.

   The results program is scheduled for Thursday, November 19. You may think to yourself that is a long time from having the samples taken until I get the results. Well, the main reason is that there are a lot of samples to test. Last year there were about 600 samples submitted. It takes a while to work through that many.

   Also this year, there may be another change. It is in the way the results are given back. In the past we have always had the awards and results presentation at a field day or some such program. However, as you can guess, that may not be possible this year. It may have to be virtual. In any case, we, the agents, will get the results to you as soon as we have them.

   So, give us a call at 606.739.5184 and get on the schedule to have yours tested. Do not think that just because you believe that you have poor quality hay there is no reason to have it tested. If that is the case, it may actually be more important to have it tested.