Time To Sample Hay For Shows At Fairs

   The hay shows at the Ozark Empire Fair and Missouri State Fair are an excellent opportunity to compare your hay to others around the state in 2016.
   “Entering the two shows is simple. It begins by contacting the nearest University of Missouri Extension center,” said Eldon Cole, livestock specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
   The deadline for entering is July 11 for OEF and July 25 for the State Fair. Regional specialists from an extension center will visit your farm, sample your hay and complete the paperwork. An entry consists of sampling ten small rectangular bales or 5 large hay packages.
   The samples are sent to the Custom Lab at Golden City for chemical analysis. The cost per sample ranges from $21 to $25 depending on which fair is entered. Lab results for the Relative Feed Value of hay account for 60 percent of the final score. Subjective evaluation of the hay by the judge is the other 40 percent.
   “Most hay buyers prefer to use their senses, smell, feel and look to determine hay quality. However, the objective data, percent fiber, total digestible nutrients, and protein are more likely to give your animals more predictable performance,” said Cole.
   The bale classes different between the two shows. The OEF does not accept haylage entries while the State Fair does. OEF accepts large round hay packages but the State Fair does not.
   “Each show has an educational intent to let farmers know more about the hay they’re raising. The value of hay is often undervalued until you see the test results. Some farmers now price their hay based on the Relative Feed Value,” said Cole.
   Besides educating growers on hay quality, the shows help promote the area as a good hay producer.
   “Publicity from the shows also allow participants to develop a reputation as a quality hay producer and can aid in marketing hay in the future,” said Cole. ∆
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