Hay Testing (and Probe) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-11-2020, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Hay Testing (and Probe)

So I am thinking about testing my hay, but I have never done it before, so I need the complete 411. lol

I have heard that Equi-Analytical is good for those in the U.S. They say that you need a hay probe. I checked out the one from their website but it says that are all sold out. So, what should I do?
Do you need a hay probe or can you just grab a fistful of hay from the center? Hay probes seems kind of pricey, about $150 +, including shipping. :( Is there another way to test hay (or from another company) or get a hay probe (like, borrowing it)? I know that some test every season or cutting, but I do not know how often I am going to test.

So, let's say that by some miracle, I find $150 in couch change. What should I test for? I am really wanting to test the NSC and CP, but what else is good? My horse is an easy keeper, so all I really need is a ration balancer or supplement(s) to fill in the gaps. I am not such which minerals to test for? I know that iron (iron overload is common and bad) and selenium (frequently over or under supplemented). What about the Ca:P ratio? I know that is important, but I also heard that most grass hays have the "correct" Ca:P ratio. Should I test just in case or is that redundant?

Should I test the ADF and the NDF?

Although my horse does not have Cushings, IR, PSSM, (etc.), I really want to feed a low-sugar, low-starch hay (because her breed is very pre-disposed to those conditions). Besides NSC, what are the carbs and sugars to test for? They offer ESC, WSC, NFC. I do not know how those metabolize...

Thanks.

Last edited by GoGo5; 08-11-2020 at 05:29 PM.
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-12-2020, 09:49 AM
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Check with your county extension office. They may have a probe you can borrow. It requires a drill to operate it.


If you can't test with a probe, you'll have to take samples from several bales and cut the hay up in roughly 5/8" pieces. I believe some of the sample is placed in a container in a machine for analysis and has to be cut in small pieces, which is what a probe does.



Equi-Analytical has an advantage that I'll mention later.


ADF and NDF are, I believe, measures of digestibility that for non-professional diet balancing, probably aren't really necessary. You actually want to see the ESC number more than the NSC number. ESC is the currently accepted value to combine with Starch to arrive at safe carb content.


Calcium:Magnesium Ratio should be 2:1
Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio should be between 1:1 and 3:1


Test for traces. You already know about iron and selenium. Copper and zinc are critical. The traces will mostly come in a package but you'll have to order the selenium test and it costs extra.


Now, how to select a balancer? If you have your hay tested by Equi-Analytical, you can sign up for an online diet balancing program called Feed XL. You can upload your E-A hay analysis directly to Feed XL, then any of the major diet balancers or supplements, and they will tell you where your diet is high or deficient in nutrients. You can tweak the diet to your heart's content, because they have a vast database of supplements. Otherwise, For most of us, having the raw data of the hay analysis just presents the bewildering task of crunching numbers.


I believe you can get a trial subscription to Feed XL for free. It will be basic.
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-12-2020, 10:05 AM
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I just had my new hay tested at Equianalytical. I will see if I'm able to upload the report, but I don't think HF likes PDFs so I might have to take a screen shot and post as a picture.


I didn't have a hay probe and the county extension office was a bear to try to get in touch with because of Covid, so I sort of gave up on borrowing one from them because I just couldn't manage to catch the officer at a time she was available. I know it is less reliable, but I resorted to hand-pulling samples from the inside of 12 bales and stuffing it all into a quart-size Ziploc to send off. They didn't have any problem running that as the sample.


I have one IR horse and all three are very easy keeping Morgans. They definitely need low sugar hay so I was most interested in the WSC, ESC, and starch values. Fortunately this hay is reliably good for my air ferns. I'll try to get the analysis uploaded in a separate post. If it's too hard to read feel free to send me a PM with your email address and I can send you the report. This is a helpful guide to interpreting the results: https://gettyequinenutrition.com/pag...ort-the-basics
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-12-2020, 10:12 AM
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Sorry, having issues trying to post it from my phone but I will try to get it uploaded later!
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post #5 of 16 Old 08-12-2020, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogpatch View Post
Check with your county extension office. They may have a probe you can borrow. It requires a drill to operate it.


If you can't test with a probe, you'll have to take samples from several bales and cut the hay up in roughly 5/8" pieces. I believe some of the sample is placed in a container in a machine for analysis and has to be cut in small pieces, which is what a probe does.



Equi-Analytical has an advantage that I'll mention later.


ADF and NDF are, I believe, measures of digestibility that for non-professional diet balancing, probably aren't really necessary. You actually want to see the ESC number more than the NSC number. ESC is the currently accepted value to combine with Starch to arrive at safe carb content.


Calcium:Magnesium Ratio should be 2:1
Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio should be between 1:1 and 3:1


Test for traces. You already know about iron and selenium. Copper and zinc are critical. The traces will mostly come in a package but you'll have to order the selenium test and it costs extra.


Now, how to select a balancer? If you have your hay tested by Equi-Analytical, you can sign up for an online diet balancing program called Feed XL. You can upload your E-A hay analysis directly to Feed XL, then any of the major diet balancers or supplements, and they will tell you where your diet is high or deficient in nutrients. You can tweak the diet to your heart's content, because they have a vast database of supplements. Otherwise, For most of us, having the raw data of the hay analysis just presents the bewildering task of crunching numbers.


I believe you can get a trial subscription to Feed XL for free. It will be basic.
I can't find the free trail. lol

Okay, so test the Ca:Mg, Ca:P, Iron, Selenium, Copper, and Zinc?

So, what is considered a low ESC? Less than 10% I heard is recommended, but I can't remember if that is NSC or some other sugar/starch/carb thing.
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-12-2020, 10:37 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
I just had my new hay tested at Equianalytical. I will see if I'm able to upload the report, but I don't think HF likes PDFs so I might have to take a screen shot and post as a picture.


I didn't have a hay probe and the county extension office was a bear to try to get in touch with because of Covid, so I sort of gave up on borrowing one from them because I just couldn't manage to catch the officer at a time she was available. I know it is less reliable, but I resorted to hand-pulling samples from the inside of 12 bales and stuffing it all into a quart-size Ziploc to send off. They didn't have any problem running that as the sample.


I have one IR horse and all three are very easy keeping Morgans. They definitely need low sugar hay so I was most interested in the WSC, ESC, and starch values. Fortunately this hay is reliably good for my air ferns. I'll try to get the analysis uploaded in a separate post. If it's too hard to read feel free to send me a PM with your email address and I can send you the report. This is a helpful guide to interpreting the results: https://gettyequinenutrition.com/pag...ort-the-basics
I worry about borrowing it for the reason that you stated. A lot of equine related businesses (or businesses in general) are a pain to deal with - if they are open at all...

Did you have to cut the hay (like dogpatch said) or did you leave it whole/long-stemmed?

What is a low level of sugar/starch/carb for your air ferns?

Thanks for the link.
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-12-2020, 12:43 PM
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I use Equi-analytical also. They are part of Dairy One which is huge for the dairy business.


I'm sure probing lots of bales gives a more accurate representation of the bales, but I have just pulled it from a couple of bales in various places and stuffed a 1 lb ziploc full and mailed it.


Many of their results, if not all (i don't know), are simply scanned for the electronic "footprint" or what ever for the minerals etc that are being tested for.


An the low price they charge, I don't see how they could do much more than run it through a machine, record the results, and send it off. Figuring the charge out rate of the employee, the costs would be used up in a short time.


If the testing were to represent say three semi double trailers, then yeah, maybe a probe.

What would Xenophon say?
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post #8 of 16 Old 08-12-2020, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
I use Equi-analytical also. They are part of Dairy One which is huge for the dairy business.


I'm sure probing lots of bales gives a more accurate representation of the bales, but I have just pulled it from a couple of bales in various places and stuffed a 1 lb ziploc full and mailed it.


Many of their results, if not all (i don't know), are simply scanned for the electronic "footprint" or what ever for the minerals etc that are being tested for.


An the low price they charge, I don't see how they could do much more than run it through a machine, record the results, and send it off. Figuring the charge out rate of the employee, the costs would be used up in a short time.


If the testing were to represent say three semi double trailers, then yeah, maybe a probe.
Dairy One's probe is sold out. :(

I guess I will just grab some fistful have hope they can sample it...?

Here is the submission forum:
https://equi-analytical.com/download...=5e59285c992c3

Do I fill out the address to my house or where my horse is boarded?
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-12-2020, 01:02 PM
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I didn't chop it, just submitted it as is. They will send you the results via email as a PDF if you provide them an email address, so it doesn't really matter what mailing address you give them unless you also want a hard copy. If so I'd give them your own address.

Do you know how your BO handles hay purchasing? Does it always come from the same supplier/off the same field for a full year's worth, or does it come in fairly regularly from multiple dealers? If your barn is large enough to buy from a professional supplier, they might already have a hay analysis on file that you could ask your BO to request.

I buy 300-400 bales off the same field from one guy, so I can go through and stick my arm in a dozen bales to create a sample that is more consistent than not. And, I've done this a couple of years in a row now and haven't seen much variation in the results I'm most interested in, so that's encouraging.


But when you're boarding, if you're at a large enough facility that can't buy a year's worth of hay in one go because it's just too large a quantity, than you may have to end up testing periodically if you want/need to know how things change with new shipments.

I'm attaching the screenshot of my analysis results, hopefully it's readable.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Goodhouse First Cut Hay Analysis July 2020.jpg (22.3 KB, 4 views)
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post #10 of 16 Old 08-12-2020, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoGo5 View Post
Dairy One's probe is sold out. :(

I guess I will just grab some fistful have hope they can sample it...?

Here is the submission forum:
https://equi-analytical.com/download...=5e59285c992c3

Do I fill out the address to my house or where my horse is boarded?
1. No no and no ó do NOT ďjust grab a fistful of hay and hope Equi-Analytical will test it. They will not test it and you will have wasted your money.

The hay corer (which is NOT the same as a hay probe because I have both) does fits on the end of a drill as @dogpatch stated.

If your local co-op or county extension agent donít have a corer , call Equi-Analytical and ask how fine to chop the hay by hand. When the corer cuts hay, it looks like oregano - itís that fine. Which is why grabbing a fistful and hoping for the best is a complete waste of time.

If E-A says they will be soon be getting more corers, wait and buy one when they get here but donít forget they attached to a drill.

When you buy their corer, you may still get one free standard test. My corer is over ten years old so I donít know if they still do that.

2. You give your home address. The only thing you ever want going to the boarding barn is the vet and the farrier, if you want to be assured of receiving documents. It is not the BOís responsibility to accept mail and in turn attempt to deliver that mail to the horse owners.

If you have an e-mail address, they will send the results via e-mail a lot faster.

3. If you pay for E-Aís standard hay test for HORSES, if will give you everything you need to know. You will have to have help interpreting, but their Standard test is more than sufficient.

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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