How much do you know about the grass and hay you feed? Quality forage is high in protein and high in energy, but what about fiber?

Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri extension forage specialist, says many producers get confused about fiber content of their forage. Acid Detergent Fiber, or ADF, is an indirect measurement of the energy content of grass and hay.

A good ADF test score is low – not high.

“For most test, such as crude protein and energy, we want our scores to be high,” says Mr. Kallenback. “With ADF, you get to brag when the score is low.”

To get an idea of what ADF scores should be, the very best alfalfa hay, that was put up right, scores 28. Fescue hay put up early in it’s growth stage, well before it matures, scores in the mid 30s. Too often, fescue hay is baled in July. By then, the concentration of soluble sugars is lower and the fiber content is much higher. Over mature fescue often has an ADF score of 45 or higher.