Do you know how to test your hay to ensure that your horses are getting the most out of their forage? Here are some helpful tips.

All horses need fiber in their diet. Since most horses are fed hay, the best way to determine what nutrients your hay is providing is to get it tested.  If you have horses challenged by metabolic syndrome, you will want to know the NSC (nonstructural carbohydrate) value of your hay so you can determine the starch and sugar content.

When you test your hay you get not only the nonstructural carbohydrate value but other nutrient levels as well.

There are several laboratories that specialize in hay analysis. You can also check with your local extension office to see if they offer testing services.

Plan to collect samples for each load of hay you purchase.

To collect your sample, you will need:

  • A hay probe
  • You can either purchase a hay probe or you can check with your local extension office to see if they can loan you one.
  • A resealable plastic bag

To sample your hay:

  1. Pick 12 to 20 random bales from throughout the load.
  2. To collect your sample, insert the probe into the end of the bale between the strings. Place the sample from each bale in a quart size plastic bag and mix well. Do this for each load you want to test.
  3. Label each bag with the type of hay and date.
  4. Fill out the paperwork required by the testing facility and drop it with the samples in the mail.
  5. Once you receive your results, if you have any problems understanding them don’t hesitate to contact the lab or your local extension office for help.

You can download a printable version of this infographic here.


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