I hate shopping. My wife buys all my clothes for me, which suits me just fine. When I do shop, I try to find the best deal for my money. This same concept applies to shopping for hay. Most of the time, I have a good idea of what my money is purchasing. Labels list features, ingredients, warranties, weight or other information that I can use to make my money go further.

When shopping for hay, a list of its features such as crude protein or pounds in a bale may or may not be available, making valuation of hay difficult, if not impossible. This can be easily remedied by asking for a hay analysis and a bale weight, or testing and weighing it yourself prior to purchase. Make sure when sampling hay that you obtain a test for each hay type (bermudagrass, sorghum sudan, wheat, etc.) and for each cutting. Ideally, the same thing would go for bale weight.

After obtaining the forage analysis, compare hay based on dry matter and not as-fed. Pay attention to moisture; the ideal moisture content at baling should be 17-18 percent. If moisture content is higher than this at the time of testing, it could signal problems.

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