Making hay in Kentucky has more to do with science than with what the feed looks like. Knowing what's inside their hay can save farmers dollars and help produce healthier livestock.
Kimberly Field is a forage tester for the State Department of Agriculture. She took samples as part of a competition this week at the Lion's Club Fair in Fayette County. Besides bragging rights, Field says gauging the nutritional value of hay makes good business sense for Kentucky farmers. "If you don't know what you're feeding, then you're just throwing money around. Because, if you just throw hay out there, cause hay is a viable food source. This is the age of a science. Hay is a science, and everything has a calculation," said Field.
Field says nutritional information about hay can be found at county extension offices across the Commonwealth. She says farmers in many neighboring states use Kentucky as their hay source. She says core samples taken from hay bales provide nutritional information about the product. "Whether it's a goat, whether it's a cow, whether it's a lama, they call up and they say all right, I have this animal, what do I need to keep it at a healthy weight? So, they will use this information and say okay, you might need to supplement or you might not, because it all depends on what bale of hay that you have," added Field.
Field helped judge hay bales this week during a competition at the Lexington Lion's Club Fair. She says the contest is mostly about bragging rights, but the work at the lab in Frankfort is about farmers saving money and raising healthy livestock.