Feed testing service takes off in drought

NSW Department of Primary Industries' Richard Meyer, analytical chemist with the Feed Quality Service, tests stockfeed from across the State.
NSW Department of Primary Industries' Richard Meyer, analytical chemist with the Feed Quality Service, tests stockfeed from across the State.

Farmers across the State are now taking advantage of the new NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) stockfeed testing service.

Launched last year the Feed Quality Service (FQS) has filled a gap in the market by providing accurate data which allows farmers to make the best use of available feed.

NSW DPI analytical chemist, Richard Meyer, said the service has proved valuable to farmers who drought-fed stock.

“We measure crude protein, digestibility, fibre and most importantly the energy content in megajoules per kilogram, so farmers can use the figures to work out exactly how much feed to give stock for maintenance, production or reproduction.”

FQS processes between 70 and 100 samples each week, analysing everything from silage, grain, concentrates, total mix rations, hay and fresh forage to the more unusual by-products which have turned up on livestock menus.

“With demand outstripping supply for hay and silage farmers are turning to grape marc, a by-product of wine production and apple pomace, the pulp left over from apple juice and cider production, amongst others,” he said.

Holbrook grazier, John Scott, has been using the FQS since December last year when he began drought-feeding his cattle.

“It’s been immensely valuable, especially now we have to make the feed go as far as possible and avoid buying very expensive feed,” Mr Scott said.

“We’ve been able to extend the amount of feed we have by six to eight weeks.”

Mr Scott was surprised at the variability FQS found in grain, hay and silage produced on-farm over the last three years and saw value in the service beyond drought.

“Even in normal seasons we will continue to use the NSW DPI feed testing service so we know exactly how much to feed our cattle and sheep and that will make our operation more efficient.”

The value of FQS is boosted through the support of NSW DPI research and extension services. In addition farmers can take advantage of PROfarm training in hay and silage production.