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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

October 18, 2023 - 9:00am --

We were blessed this weekend to have the 'big kids' home for a few days while they were on their fall break from WVU. Never ones to just sit around the house, we asked them what they would like to do. To our surprise, Tylor said we needed to go to the zoo. When the kids were younger, that was our go-to day out of the house excursion.

Every parent wishes their children will never grow up, and it appears I got my wish. I have to say it is pretty funny watching a couple 20-year-olds wait in line to get their picture taken with a statue.

Test, don’t guess to evaluate soil quality

In my last article we discussed current concerns over potential nitrate toxicity in forages. This week I would like to circle back and remind you of the importance of forage/feed testing. Extension Educators have preached the mantra of 'test, don’t guess' when it comes to soil testing, and the same is true for evaluating the quality of our harvested feedstuffs.

Those of you in the dairy business are well aware of the importance of testing and the value provided to your business from both animal performance and economic return perspectives. I have found that it is not front and center in the minds of many of our beef, horse, and small ruminant producers.

How to do the testing

Sampling is a relatively easy process, but you should be systematic with your sample collection. You only need to have a few basic tools. Those would be a 5 gallon bucket, quart size plastic bags, and some scissors. If you will be sampling a lot, you can consider investing in a forage sampling probe. Each field, and each harvest from the field should be sampled separately. For baled hay, wet or dry, take a hand size or probe sized sample from the center of 10 random bales.

You should avoid those parts of the bale exposed to the most weather. Put the samples in your bucket and hand mix them to create a composite sample. From your bucket fill the quart plastic bag, press out the air and seal the bag, and then label the bag with your name and some identification name or number so you can keep the samples straight when your analysis comes back. If you are testing wet hay or fresh forage samples, you want to get those to the lab as quick as possible. This may mean hand delivering them or shipping in cooler boxes.

Where to send samples for testing

As for where to send your sample, there are several resources in Wayne County that can help. OSU Extension is one of the resources. Ohio State is now performing forage testing at their Columbus labs.

There are two analytical packages available, and testing costs range from $18.50 to $20.50 per sample.

More information can be found at this address,, and you can download a sample submission form by going to

The OSU Extension office in Wayne County can help you access the submission form (printed copies are available at the office) and answer any of your sampling questions but please note that we cannot ship your sample for you.

Next time we will talk about reading your forage analysis results.

I hope you have a safe and prosperous harvest.

John Yost is an Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator for OSU Extension and can be reached at 330-264-8722 or
This article was previously published in The Daily Record.