Forage Quality

Ed Rayburn, Extension Specialist WVU Extension Service, Agriculture and Natural Resources

Forage quality is a measure of the nutritive value available from pasture or hay. The forage quality needed is based on the nutritive requirement of the livestock consuming the forage. Forage low in nutritive value will not meet the needs of livestock having a high nutritional requirement and if fed to that animal the animal will not perform as expected and may become unhealthy. Forage high in nutritive value when fed to an animal having a low nutritional requirement will make the animal gain more than needed and will be wasted compared to feeding it to animals having a high nutritional requirement.

Knowing the animal’s nutritional requirement enables us to know if the forage on hand will meet that requirement and what type and how much supplement is needed to meet the animal’s nutritional needs. The section on Animal Nutrition provides fact sheets on the nutritional needs of livestock.

Forage testing enables us to know the quality of forage being produced or purchased. The following fact sheets provide the information needed to identify the nutritional quality of forage.

Sampling Pastures

Sampling Hay and Haylage

Forage testing laboratories certified by NFTA

Understanding Forage Analysis

Using Forage Testing to Diagnose Management Problems

Hay Quality in West Virginia

Pasture Quality in West Virginia

Forage Quality of Rotationally Grazed Pastures in the Northeast

Evaluating Hay Quality. Lester Vough, Univ. MD