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County Services Feed Testing & Ration Balancing

Feed Testing & Ration Balancing

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Staff at Agricultural Services are happy to balance rations for local producers. Using the upgraded Cow Bytes 5 and with input from farmers on their feed test results, rations can be built quickly and effectively.

Please phone 403-845-4444 to book an appointment.

Feed Sampling Guideline

Feed testing assists livestock producers in making the best use of the feeds available to them.
The proper application of feed test results will allow you to optimize your feed resources.
Underfeeding livestock will limit their production; overfeeding livestock will be a waste of resources.
Feed test results will help to determine what supplements are needed and the amount of these
supplements that should be used in the ration. If you want assistance in developing a feeding
program you can make use of our ration balancing service.


Clearwater County Agricultural Services has an information package and sampling tools available upon
request. It is recommended to phone and arrange a time to discuss sampling, analysis, ration
balancing and borrowing tools.

When to Sample

Choosing the right time to take feed samples is very important. Samples should always be
taken before the feeding period begins. If you have the results of your feed analysis before the
feeding period begins, you can use the feed test results to help you develop the best possible feeding
program. Whenever possible sample your feeds at harvest time.


Each type of feed to be used in the ration should be sampled and analyzed separately.
Different forage species, mixtures or cuttings should be sampled individually because they all differ in
nutrient content. Grains and roughages grown in different areas of Alberta, even in different fields,
differ greatly in nutrient content.
Protect your investment in feed testing by taking every care to ensure that the samples you
submit are representative. If the samples are not representative the test results will be misleading
and consequently, of little value.

When sampling baled roughages use the specially designed core sampling tool which is
available from Agricultural Services upon request. Take samples from at least 20 different bales or places in
the stack. Place the core samples directly into plastic sample bags. This will help prevent the loss of

For sampling loose or cut roughages or silage it is best to take the sample by hand. You will
have difficulty obtaining a sample with a core sampling tool. Take samples from at least 20 different
locations in the stack or swath. Put the samples in a pail and mix thoroughly. Take a sample from
the pail and put it into the plastic bag. Try to avoid leaf loss. If the roughage is very dry you may be
better off to sample directly into plastic sample bags.

Grains or complete feeds should also be sampled from at least 20 different locations in the
storage structure. Put the samples in a pail and mix thoroughly. Then transfer a sample to a plastic
sample bag. If your feed contains protein supplement or minerals these may settle to the bottom of
the pail. The easiest time to collect your samples is when the grain or feed is being augered into the
storage bin.

DO NOT DRY the samples before submitting them. Recommendations are made on an as-fed
basis: thus, knowing the moisture content is very important. If possible, freeze silage samples
before mailing them. Silages or other perishables should be sent to the laboratory as soon as possible.

Packaging and Mailing

  • Package and ship according to laboratory instructions.
Feed Analyses and Fees

See Link for Feed and Grain Analysis and Fees

Interpretations and Recommendations

Analytical results of feed samples will be forwarded to the farmer. If you wish to discuss
feeding needs, ration balancing and detailed ration recommendations please call Clearwater County
Ag Services to discuss or make an appointment.

Please Note: Clearwater County does not provide information for use in advertising or for use in situations
where legal action is involved or contemplated nor to provide a quality-control service for feed