Ugh! Understanding Hay Analysis Results!

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Good lord, can't they just say "your hay is great" or "your hay sucks" or something like that that I could understand?!
I even went to their website and still couldn't understand it. I was hoping for a table that said these are the normal ranges or something, but nope. If anyone has any experience or thoughts on what this all means I'd really appreciate hearing it.

% Moisture - 8.4

% Dry matter - 91.6

Digestible Energy (DE) mcal/lb as sampled - .85

Digestible Energy (DE) mcal/lb Dry matter - .93

As Sampled Dry Matter

% g/lb % g/lb

Crude Protein 11.9 53.9 13.0 58.8

Estimated Lysine .41 1.9 .45 2.0

Lignin 4.6 20.7 5.0 22.5

Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) 34.7 157.2 37.8 171.6

Neutral Deter Fiber (NDF) 54.6 247.6 59.6 270.2

Water Sol. Carbs (WSC) 8.2 37.3 9.0 40.7

Simple Sugars (ESC) 6.4 28.8 6.9 31.5

Starch 1.9 8.8 2.1 9.6

Non Fiber Carb (NFC) 13.1 59.4 14.3 64.8

Crude Fat 3.4 15.2 3.7 16.6

Ash 8.7 39.5 9.5 43.1

Calcium .55 2.49 .60 2.72

Phosphorus .44 1.99 .48 2.17

Potassium 2.32 10.55 2.54 11.51

Sodium .046 .210 .051 .229

ppm mg/lb ppm mg/lb

Iron 75 34 82 37

Zinc 18 8 20 9

Copper 8 4 9 4

Manganese 86 39 93 42

Molybdenum 6.4 2.9 7.0 3.2

RVF as fed 100% dry


Wow! Anyone have any thoughts!! I did this initially because of the trouble I was having with Cappy and wondering since she was really only willing to eat hay if she was getting what she needed. Well, you all know she didn't last long enough for me to find out, but I'd still like to know since this is hay I feed year after year. I feed off the same field and he treats it the same from one year to another - unless he feels something is lacking and he needs to use a different approach.

Thanks in advance for your time!

O M G! I had this all typed out with spaces so it was easy to read and this is what it does!!!
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Marsha Cassada

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2005
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Southwest Oklahoma
Can you take that to your extension agent and ask the questions? I had mine done several years ago, but I can't remember everything anymore. Your vet may also be able to decipher some of it.

One thing I remember about mine was it had plenty of selenium. That was good to know when I am ordering supplements.


Well-Known Member
Oct 8, 2007
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Up In the Mountains, CO
hope this helps a little

•Dry Matter (DM)– This tells you how much of the sample is left after water is removed. It is the moisture or dry matter content of the sample. Hay will generally be about 89 percent dry matter or greater.

•Digestible energy (DE) – This is a measure of the digestible energy in the hay. For a light-working horse, DE should be 20.5 Mcal/day. Hay may have .76 to .94 Mcal/pounds or higher of DE.

•Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) - This is a measure of the total digestible nutrients in the hay or its energy value. TDN may be used in place of DE or offered in addition to DE. It may range from 40 to 55 percent.

•Crude Protein (CP)– This is a measure of the protein concentration of the hay and can range from 6 percent to 8 percent in native grass hays to about 15 percent or higher in high quality legume hays.

•Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) – This is a measure of the plant’s cell wall content, shown as a percent. The higher this is, the less hay the horse will eat.

•Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) – This is a measure of the fiber concentration of the hay, shown as a percent. As ADF increases, digestibility and nutrient availability decreases.

•Non-Structural Carbohydrates (NSC) – This is a measure of the non-structural carbohydrates in the feed. If your horse has Cushing’s disease or is prone to colic or laminitis, you want to select hay with a lower NSC value. Timothy and alfalfa hay may have a 15 percent or 20 percent NSC value, respectively. If you want this analysis done, you should check to see if the lab offers it, as it is not a common analysis at this time.

•Starch and Sugar- This is a measure of sugars and starches in the feed. You should feed no more than 15 percent of total daily calories from starch and sugar to horses with EPSM (equine polysaccharide storage myopathy) and PSSM (polysaccharide storage myopathy) EPSM is a muscle disease found in over 100 draft breeds that may cause severe weakness and muscle wasting in horses of all ages, poor performance, abnormal hind limb gaits and shivers, in which the muscles keep twitching. PSSM is a muscle disease found in horses with Quarter Horse in their breeding, such as American Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas. Symptoms include reluctance to move, muscle stiffness, sweating, shifting lameness and tremors in the flank area

In Colorado , we look at the Calcium / Phosphorus ratios the closest, thte closer the better, a lot of horses die here in this part of the country because of the huge differences, so RanchWay Feeds with CSU makes a specific block that takes care of the deficencies of the ratios.

Looks like you hay was cut early in the AM too, high #'s in sugars. Best to cut hay and bale hay in the PM hours. Thats why some hay puts weight/ bellies on horses- is because of the time cut n baled.
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Nathan Luszcz

Well-Known Member
Aug 6, 2006
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Shelbyville, KY
The most basic way to look at it is this.

Moisture: you want this number under 15%; too wet and it'll mold, too dry and it looses a lot of nutrients. Round bales will need to be even dryer. Silage/haylage is 30% or more moisture!

Protein: Generally, the higher the protein, the higher the quality. Of course you may not WANT very high quality hay, as it can cause founder and the like. 12-15% is good. Lower than 10% is pretty low (but not uncommon from low quality fields). And for this you want to be looking at the AS TESTED numbers. Dry matter is the raw essence of the hay, if you were to desiccate it. That's not how you feed it
You feed by weight, including the moisture. Of course you need to keep in mind that over time that moisture will dry out. After a few years it'll be pretty darn dry.

Then of course you can go to excess looking at all the nutrient levels and vitamins and finding a grain that compliments it. In order to do that, contact your local feed company and talk to the nutritionist. Give them the data sheet from your hay and they will GLADLY help you design a feed program to compliment YOUR hay, adding supplements as needed.

There are TONS of resources out there if you take advantage of them. Go for it! Talk to your feed company (not necessarily your feed RESELLER, but the company that manufacturers it.


Well-Known Member
May 20, 2008
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Sorry Parmela! I can understand that it is like 12% protein. But that is as far as I got. LOL

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