Forage is the foundation of a balanced equine diet
and should comprise the majority of your horse’s intake. But it’s hard to know the quality of hay just by looking at it.
A hay or pasture analysis can help you understand the nutritional composition of your horse’s forage so you can address deficiencies or imbalances in their diet.
Our nutritionists will then use the data in your forage report to formulate a balanced feeding program customized to your horse’s needs. Submit your horse’s information online to receive your free diet evaluation.
Our comprehensive forage testing provides a detailed breakdown of the energy, protein, fibre, and NSC content of your horse’s forage.
- Dry Matter (DM)
- Crude Protein (CP)
- Soluble Protein (CP)
- Acid Detergent Fibre (ADF)
- Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF)
- Non-Structural Carbohydrates (NSC)
- Crude Fat
- Equine Digestible Energy (DE)
- ESC (Simple Sugar)
Your report will also provide concentrations for the following macrominerals and trace minerals. These are tested using wet chemistry to provide the most accurate results.
How to Collect a Forage Sample:
In this video, Dr. Alex Rankovic, Ph.D. of Mad Barn explains how to collect a hay sample using a forage probe or the hand-grab method with a pair of scissors.
Whether you’re sampling from fresh pasture or round, square, or compressed hay bales, you’ll want to collect a ½ – 1 lb (200 – 500 g) sample that is representative of your forage lot.
The best time to sample hay is as close to feeding as possible. You’ll need a large, clean mixing bucket and a labelled, sealable plastic sample bag.
Collect samples from 10 – 20 bales within one lot of hay to minimize sampling variation.
Using a Hay Probe:
This is the ideal method because a hay probe is accurate, fast and allows you to obtain a core sample of each bale you’re testing. You can borrow hay probes from your local feed store, agriculture cooperative or government agency.
You will need an electric drill to drive the probe through the bale’s cores.
Start at the end of a square bale and push the probe in horizontally to a depth of 12 – 18 inches so that multiple flakes are tested. For round bales, sample into the curved part of the bale to obtain a good cross-section.
Use the plunger rod to push your sample into the collection bucket and place it in your collection bag.
If you are using the hand grab method, open at least 10 – 20 bales from your lot and grab samples from different parts within each bale of hay.
Grab some hay from the exterior of the bale too, but the majority of the sample should come from the interior of the bale.
Try not to crush or lose any dried leaves or seed heads when grabbing hay, as these components are preferentially consumed by the horse.
Cut the collected hay into 2–3-inch segments before bagging.
It is important to obtain samples representative of the entire pasture lot. Walk around the pasture with scissors and cut random samples 10 feet apart.
Cut the grass at the height your horse is currently grazing and ensure there is no dirt contaminating the sample. Your samples should be trimmed to about 2-3 inches long.
Samples should be frozen immediately to preserve sugars so the laboratory can provide an accurate analysis. Ideally, ship the sample with ice packs to minimize thawing.
If this is not possible, the sample should be completely dried before shipping. Weigh the sample as-is before drying and note this on your sample submission form. To dry the sample, spread it out in a pan and oven-dry overnight at 100oF (40oC).
Submitting your Forage Sample:
After ordering your forage analysis online, we will e-mail you a pre-filled sample submission form and a pre-paid shipping label.
You will be asked to provide a brief description of your forage sample, including forage type, hay cutting, year of harvest, sampling date, and any indications of hay quality, such as the presence of dust.
Collect your sample and mail it to our analytical laboratory in a shipping envelope using the pre-paid shipping label. You can expect to receive your hay analysis results via email between 3-5 business days after your sample is received.
Learn more about how to take a hay sample and interpret the results in our Guide to Understanding an Equine Hay Analysis.
Our equine nutritionists will then use your hay analysis to formulate a balanced feeding program for your horses. You will also be able to book a free nutrition consultation to ask questions about your horse’s diet and general management.