Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 12, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Forage crops supply protein, fiber, energy, minerals and vitamins in diets of dairy cattle. Lactating dairy cattle require effective fiber levels to maintain rumen health. The correct balance of concentrates to forage in diets is dependent on nutrient availability, digestibility, and cost. The US dairy managers are dependent on purchase of forages in addition to traditional purchase of grain and other concentrates. Accuracy of forage analysis and repeatability of analysis between commercial forage testing laboratories impacts forage crop purchases. US dairy production leads other countries of the world, 71 million metric tons. Voluntary standards to market alfalfa hay were established in the US in 1984. These standards included hay lot identification, sampling, recommended tests, prediction of dry matter digestibility (DMD) from acid detergent fiber (ADF), and test certification. Commercial forage testing laboratories offer the following tests: moisture, dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), ADF, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber- crude protein (ADF-CP), calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and magnesium (Mg). Accuracy of forage testing is monitored voluntarily by the National Forage Testing Association. High producing cows need estimates of DMD utilizing digestion kinetics. Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) testing offers a method of reducing laboratory test variations and the ability of utilizing in situ or in vitro digestion kinetics tests. The experience of development of hay quality standards and development of NIRS Testing Consortium will be used to discuss forage quality standards needed to improve profitability of dairy farmers.