For the last few years, there has been a hay contest held at the Sunbelt Expo. The purpose of this event is to improve the quality of our forages. However, I think many enjoy the competition. This year, the Expo will be held in Moultrie on October 19 - 21.
We have already had a few from our area to submit samples for judging. For others who might be interested, I will try to outline the entry requirements in this article.
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 local Extension Office by Wednesday, September 15. The fee for participation in the contest is $10 per sample. The standard lab form for hay/silage analysis must be submitted with the sample. We plan to talk about the contest at the next cattlemen meeting in early September. Any results returned prior to that meeting will be used for discussion with the producer's permission.
A completed contest entry form must also be submitted. This form requires the signature of your local 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.
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 Ziploc 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 Ziploc 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 2006. 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.
I know some areas have been dry but there may be some of you out there who've had a good cutting of hay this spring. If so, let's send in a sample. It would be great to have a winner from our area.