Hay quality is objectively determined and key attributes of the hay include:
- Digestible Dry Matter (DDM)
- This gives an estimate of the percentage of the sample which an animal can digest. Samples with a digestibility of over 60% are usually very good.
- Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF)
- The fibre which is measured by NDF is that which provides “bulk” or “fill” of the diet and as a result limits intake. Low NDF is usually desirable. Late cutting will have an adverse affect here as NDF increases with plant maturity.
- Acid Detergent Fibre (ADF)
- Consists primarily of the least digestible parts of the plant and is used to calculate the energy values as it relates to inversely to digestibility. Low ADF is desirable as this relates to higher net energy.
- Crude protein is an indicator of the protein which may be metabolised by the animal. Oaten hay typically falls in the range of 6-7% protein. Oaten hay is commonly used as a complementary fodder with high protein additives.
- Is it essential that the hay conforms to moisture level specifications (<12.0%) otherwise the risk of subsequent mould damage during storage/transit is unacceptable.