June 2007
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By Don Ball

For the past few years a hay contest has been conducted in association with the Sunbelt Agriculture Exposition in Moultrie, Georgia. This year the Expo will be held on October 16-18. It began as a tri-state (Alabama/Florida/Georgia) event and has now expanded into a regional competition. The analysis results alone are worth the entry fee. The identity of persons submitting samples are anonymous except for winners. Details are provided below.
Southeast Hay Contest

Hay Evaluation

Hay and baleage samples will be evaluated in the following categories:

· Warm Season Perennial Grass Hay (i.e. bermudagrass, bahiagrass, johnsongrass)

· Perennial Peanut and Alfalfa Hay

· Cool Season Perennial Grass Hay (tall fescue, orchardgrass)

· Mixed and Annual Grass Hay (clover/fescue, clover/ryegrass, bahiagrass/perennial peanut, millet, ryegrass etc)

· Grass Baleage (high moisture bermudagrass, ryegrass etc. ensiled in wrapped bales)

· Legume Baleage (high moisture perennial peanut or alfalfa ensiled in wrapped bales)

Awards will be dependent upon sponsorship of the program.

Hay entries will be judged using NIR testing procedures by the University of Georgia Feed and Environmental Water Lab. The entries will be ranked using the Relative Forage Quality (RFQ) evaluation system, which accounts for protein, energy and fiber digestibility.

If necessary, ties in RFQ scores will be broken based on visual evaluation by the Forage Specialists from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Entry Requirements

This contest is open to any hay or baleage producer from the southeastern United States, but hay samples must be submitted by the farm where the hay was grown.

Hay/baleage samples, entry forms and analysis fees must be received by the UGA Feed and Environmental Water Laboratory by Friday, September 21. The fee for participation in the contest is the same as for standard NIRS testing + nitrates (F2 test): $10 per sample. The standard lab form for hay/silage analysis must be submitted with the sample. Forms are available at: http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/forms/index.html.

A completed contest entry form must also be submitted. This form requires the signature of your local or regional County Extension Agent. Agents must assign an entry number by state and county on the entry form. This code will be used as the sample ID for analysis and for display at the hay show to protect the identity of the producer submitting the sample. (example: FL – Jackson Co- 12)

Lab analysis samples must be taken from a single lot of hay and from a minimum of 5-10 randomly sampled square or round bales. Submit core samples for testing in a pint or quart sized zip-close bag labeled with Sample ID as described above. A lot is defined as forage taken from the same farm, field, and cut under uniform conditions within a 48-hour time period. Analysis results should be available to the producer and county agent within 7-10 days after submission.

A grab sample of hay should be collected and submitted for display purposes in a 1 or 2-gallon zip-close bag labeled with the Sample ID as described above. No baleage display sample is required due to storage issues. Display samples will not be returned, so separate display samples should be collected for entry into local or regional shows. Display samples may be stored in county offices until September 2007. Contest winners will be notified in early October.

Hay samples must be taken from fields with a minimum maturity or re-growth of at least 25 days to ensure fair competition. Hay from fields with less than 25 days of growth will be disqualified.

Hay samples for testing must be collected using a hay probe.

Hay samples with nitrate levels over 5000 parts per million (ppm) on a dry matter basis will be disqualified.

Dry hay samples with over 18% moisture will be disqualified. There are no moisture requirements for baleage categories.

Cored entries for quality analysis should be submitted to:

Southeastern Hay Contest, Feed and Environmental Water Lab (FEW), 2300 College Station Road,
Athens, Georgia 30602-4356.

Include the following contest entry form, a UGA lab analysis form, and make $10 checks payable to UGA FEW Lab.

For Questions Concerning Show Entry Contact:

· Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia Forage Specialist, 706-542-1529

· John Andrae, Clemson University Forage Specialist, 864-656-3504

· Don Ball, Auburn University Forage Specialist, 334-844-5491

· Ann Blount, University of Florida Forage Specialist, 850-875-7129

Don Ball is an Extension Forage Crop Agronomist with Auburn University.