Oats: hay quality for export and domestic markets

Page last updated: Thursday, 5 October 2017 - 2:02pm

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Difference between quality for export and domestic use

Export hay currently has a strong emphasis on WSC, particularly for the Japanese market. This is mainly driven by the Japanese buyers who physically taste the hay and use this concept to sell the hay to dairy farmers. The reasoning is that hay, which is high in WSC is usually high in DDM and low in fibre and therefore more palatable, resulting in higher intake and higher production. Hay exported to Japan must also be of excellent green colour, texture, smell and taste. These characteristics are also generally sought by the domestic market, however there appears to be little evidence that animals prefer hay due to its colour but aroma has been found to have an influence for some animals.

Domestic hay quality has an emphasis on nutritional value, particularly crude protein and metabolisable energy (the amount of energy per kilogram of dry matter (MJ/kg)). The desired level for crude protein is >8% and metabolisable energy is >9MJ/kg dry matter.

Sampling hay for quality testing

When taking a sample for testing it is important to get a representative sample by using a suitable coring device. This method of sampling will take into account the variation within and between bales in the batch and help to ensure that the relative proportions of leaf, stem and spike are represented in the sample.

Mix the core samples from a number of bales to give a composite core sample and then take a representative sub-sample from this composite core sample for analysis.

Samples can be tested by an accredited laboratory. Hay processors will test hay (visual and feed test) as part of their quality assessment.

Should ARGT be a risk then the standard sampling procedure for export hay from the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) should be used. DAFF and AQIS have provided a standard protocol for minimising the risk of corynetoxin contamination of hay and straw for export. The standard protocol outlines the methods to sample and test for the presence of corynetoxin in hay and straw exports to prevent the hay and straw causing ARGT in livestock. The standard protocol is used by all Australian hay and straw producers and exporters who prepare hay or straw for overseas' markets. You export hay processor will use this sampling method to carry out feed tests as well as visual assessments as part of their quality assessment.

More information on sampling hay for domestic or export sale, codes of practice for selling hay, vendor declaration forms providing the buyer with relevant quality issues for hay purchased and protocols for quality testing of hay can be obtained by visiting the Australian Fodder Industry Association website.


This information has been adapted from a Farmnote produced by Kellie Winfield, Blakely Paynter and Raj Malik with input from a number of industry specialists.

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