Digestibility of Different Forages

(Jamie) Were back! Let’s join Duane and Matt as they discuss the digestibility of different forages.
(Duane) Duane Toews joining you with AGam in Kansas while at the Kansas Forage and Grassland Council Annual Meeting and Trade Show in Manhattan, Kansas. Recently we had a chance to catch up with Matt Hogan with SDK Laboratories out of Hutchinson. And Matt we think about the business of feeding livestock, having a baseline understanding of what it is nutritionally that we’re putting out in front that is pretty important and really the core of your business. (Matt) That’s correct. We get a lot of questions and people just want to know what do these numbers mean? And we’re more than happy to address those concerns and help put things into language that they can understand. (Duane) Also from the top end producer, particularly thinking of alfalfa a lot of times, if they’re looking at that dairy market you’ve got the forage producers who are utilizing your business as well. (Matt) Correct. We’re looking at the producers as well as the end users. We play a role where we’re making sure that everybody is…they’re getting what they’re paying for and paying for what they’re getting. (Duane) Tell us a little bit about some of the changes over the years. I know when I was a kid, it was kind of a crude protein world and that was about all we worried about. We’ve evolved from that point in the testing business. (Matt) Oh, absolutely, in fact, I’ve been with the lab 16 years now and I’ve seen a big change just from the RFV world now to the RFQ world say in the last ten years even. Now we’re looking at the digestibility of different forages and with the digestibility we’re seeing improved performances whether it’s a beef cow or a dairy cow. So, it’s changed quite a bit. (Duane) So, you’ll have to back up just a step. I will have you explain RFV and RFQ and what that really means to those people. (Matt) Oh sure. Relative Feed Value is really exclusively geared towards alfalfa and it was just an arbitrary benchmark set up by hay brokers so that they could price and sell their alfalfa hay exclusively. People, the problem is, they take that RFV number and apply it to everything other than alfalfa and it’s caused a lot of confusion. The RFQ or the Relative Feed Quality takes into consideration several variables that the RFV score did not. And because of that we can apply it across the board to different types of feeds and basically the difference boils down to the digestibility of the neutral detergent fiber. The more digestible the fiber, the more basically the more feed the animal can eat, which in turn means higher milk production or more weight gain. (Duane) We think about the opportunities, the chemical analysis and all those different things, some of those tests have changed through the years, but it gets back to if a quality sample doesn’t show up at your shop, it’s hard to get valid numbers for a very significant pile of hay, if you will. (Matt) How do you get a good representative sample of something you have tons of and I’m only going to use maybe half a gram? So it’s absolutely imperative that we get a good quality sample and then the lab in turn uses good practices to make sure that we’re not biasing the sample in any way and affecting the results. (Duane) Our thanks to Matt Hogan with SDK Laboratories out of Hutchinson, Kansas, joining us a the Kansas Forage and Grassland Council Annual Meeting and Winter Conference in Manhattan. Jamie, back to you.
(Jamie) Thanks, Duane. Next up is this week’s Kansas Soybean Update.

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