DPI testing helps NSW farmers


With more farmers relying on outsourced feed and fodder as a result of drought conditions, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is encouraging farmers to take advantage of the DPI's NATA-accredited stockfeed testing service. 

DPI Analytical Chemist, Richard Meyer, said the service provided at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute offers standard tests of pasture, hay, forage, silage, straw, by-products, grain and concentrates. 

"To assist farmers with survival feeding or production feeding, we measure dry matter digestibility, crude protein, metabolisable energy, silage pH and silage ammonia-nitrogen," Mr Meyer said. 

"Additional tests are now available that cover mineral nutrient, starch, nitrate and prussic acid. 

"With the scarcity of feed many farmers are sourcing feed from unknown suppliers which could be putting their livestock at risk." 

Mr Meyer said there are also a range of alternative feeds that are often sourced as traditional hay and fodder supplies become harder to source. 

"Some of these alternative feeds include canola hay, rice straw, cotton hulls, and grape marc. The nutritional value of many of these alternative feeds can be low or highly variable. There can also be residue risks associated with some alternative roughages.” 

He said feed testing can be an effective way of mitigating risks associated with sourcing alternative feeds. 

"Recent sampling at the Institute has shown an increase in positive tests for nitrate toxicity and prussic acid toxicity in sorghum and millet crops from the northern tablelands. 

"Drought and post drought conditions can give rise to an increase in nitrate and prussic acid in some species. If there is any doubt regarding nitrate or prussic acid levels in crops then testing is recommended." 

The DPI Feed Quality Services Laboratory received NATA accreditation in 2004.