28 Nov


Feed Analysis and Advisory

Following a sound breeding program that accords a solid genetic foundation, the key driver in milk production is feed management.

Milk production = 40% Genetics + 60% Management

As we stock feeds – pasture, silage, hay, grain and processed stock-feed mixes, it is important to know the nutritive value and quality of the feed offered to dairy cattle. Feed nutritive value is paramount if one is feeding animals expected to yield the highest financial returns such as dairy cows. It is also important to monitor the diets of all animals prior to mating, during pregnancy and lactation to maximize the number of young animals born and to ensure their survival. In addition, knowing the quality of feed is important when deciding if supplementary feed is required and how much of what is needed.

Planning for supplementary feeding should not be left until the last minute. Information required to aid in making a decision on supplementary feeding includes the quality of available pasture as well as the quality of any supplementary feed.

The ABSTCM Dairy Enterprise Trust FEED TESTING service can give information needed to assist in working out a feeding program. It is now possible to have any type of animal feed tested and its nutrient composition determined. The procedure is simple – just take a representative sample of the feed for which a test is required and have it delivered to the Laboratory at Ndama Place, Kabarnet Road. Provided a sample is not received on a Friday the result will be in the hands of the owner in two days maximum.

The cost of analysis varies according to parameters tested however a standard proximate analysis test costs from Ksh.1,000 Near Infra Red method to Ksh. 2,900 by wet chemistry

A price list is attached for your use and distribution to farmers and milk chilling hubs. To ensure the results you receive provide maximum benefit to your feeding program, samples sent for analysis need to be representative of the feed. If the sample is not representative, the results are of little or no use. Correct sampling procedures are as follows:

Sampling Pasture

Walk through the paddock at random and take cuts at regular intervals with a pair of hand shears. This can be done by walking diagonally across the paddock from one corner to another or by zig-zagging across the paddock. Cut a sample, near the toe of your boot, to ground level every ten to 15 steps. Do not include dirt or dung in the sample. Take at least 15 samples across the paddock. Combine these samples into one and mix thoroughly.

Sampling Grains and Mixed Feeds

Select a handful from at least six locations or bags that make up the complete batch. Combine samples into one and mix thoroughly to obtain a final quantity not exceeding 500 grams.


Analysis Equipment Cost/Sample
Feeds And Ingredients
Proximate BUCHI-NIR 1,000
DM and Ash Forced air oven and Muffle furnace 1,000
Fiber Ankom 1,000
Fat Ether extract-gold fish Apparatus 300
Components Lacticheck 200
DQCI Milk Microbiology 500
SCC Partacheck 350
Protein Leco 1,000
Wet proximate Leco, Goldfish,Ankom,Oven, Furnace 2,900
pH Orion pH meter 350
CP+ADF+NDF Leco, Ankom, Oven, Furnace 2,600
CP+ADF Leco, Ankom 1,600
CP,NDF,EE,Ash Leco, Goldfish, Ankom, Oven, Furnace 2,900
CP,EE Leco and Goldfish 900
Specialized Tests
Wheat Samples
Acidity as sulphuric Acid Wet Chemistry 1,000
Acidity as Lactic Acid Wet Chemistry 1,000
Protein Parameters
Soluble Protein Wet Chemistry 1,000
True Protein Wet Chemistry 1,200
Hot water Insoluble Nitrogen Wet Chemistry 1,200
Milk Components
Butterfat, Protein, Solids Non Fat, Added Water and Density Fresh Milk Samples – Lacticheck 100
Somatic Cell Count Milk up to 8hrs post milking – PortaCheck kit 250
Mastitis Organism Identification DQCI- SSGN Gels 1,500

The value of feed testing

Feeding-out of silage and hay requires constant sampling and analysis. Conserved feed probably makes up most of the cows’ diet on a lot of dairy farms. Given the importance of conserved feed, have you looked at the quality of your silage and or hay?

A look at a summary of ABSTCM, Ltd. laboratory results shows that from the silage samples tested over a 12 month period, there is a range of 5 mega joules of metabolize energy per kilogram of dry matter (MJ ME/kg DM) between the best and worst silage. This is a massive difference given that an extra 1.1 litres of milk (approximately) can be gained for each 0.5 MJ/kg DM lift in ME content of silage. The protein contained in silage shows the same large range between the best and worst. How does your silage or hay rate? The only way to really know is to get it tested. The results from a test will give you essential information about your feeds (concentrates, silage or hay) that you can use to determine what you can do to improve the quality of your feed.

Dry matter. If silage is below 30% dry matter it means that it was not wilted for long enough. Below 30% dry matter, liquid will be lost from the silage when it is in storage. This liquid contains valuable nutrients and losing them results in lower quality silage (it also has the potential to be a very serious pollutant). Also, if the silage is too wet, there is a risk of poor fermentation. If the silage is too dry (more than 50% dry matter) it means that it was wilted for too long. Dry silage also has poor fermentation and is at greater risk of heating and mould growth. Hay should have a dry matter of 80-88%.

Energy and digestibility. Energy is measured as mega joules (MJ) of metabolizable energy (ME) per kilogram of dry-matter. ME is the part of feed energy that is available to the animal for heat production, maintenance and live-weight gain or milk production. ME and digestibility are closely related. The higher the digestibility, the higher the ME content of the feed. Silage should have a ME higher than 10 MJ/kg DM if cows are expected to produce milk from it. Silage with low ME often means that the pasture/crop was cut too late. Low ME can also result from cut silage being rained on, silage being left too long to wilt, poor compaction, or poor sealing of the stack or bales.

Fiber. Fiber is also closely related to energy and digestibility. In general, the higher the amount of fiber in the feed, the lower the digestibility and energy level. High fiber also reduces the amount of silage or hay that stock will eat. However, cows do need a minimum of 35% Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) in their diet. A high percentage of fiber in pasture, silage and hay is associated with cutting too late and having too much stem material in the conserved herbage.

Protein. Dry cows need a minimum of 10% crude protein in their diet. The amount required increases with the amount of milk that they are producing. Young stock requires 16% crude protein to grow to target live-weight and size. Lactating cows require 16 to 18% crude protein depending on stage of lactation and level of production. The amount of crude protein tested in conserved fodder ranges from 4% to 26%. This is determined, again, by the stage that pasture is at when it is cut. Pasture that is too mature will have lower protein levels than lush pasture. Other factors that impact on the amount of protein in the conserved fodder are the extent of drying for hay, length of wilt and the quality of the fermentation for silage.

Cost of Testing

The cost for testing ranges from Ksh 1,000 to Ksh. 2,900 per sample. The information that it gives you can help you to make thousands of Kenya shillings in the future by making or purchasing better quality conserved feed.

Comments (No Responses )

No comments yet.

ABSTCM © All Rights Reserved.2020