Silage Sampling Protocol

29 October 2018

Analyses are only as good as the sample submitted.  Samples should be representative of the silage the animals will actually be eating. 

If there are areas of the silage pit face that are mouldy or damaged in any way and this material is not being fed, they should be omitted from the sample sent to the laboratory.

Silage Core Samples

Core samples should only be taken to give an early assessment of the clamp prior to feeding.  To ensure samples are representative, take 3 full depth core samples from the top, along the diagonal of the clamp.

Silage Face Samples

Silage face samples should be taken 15 cm behind the face, moving from side to side and top to bottom following a ‘W’ pattern, with sub-samples taken at each ‘point’ of the W (minimum 5 samples, 9 is better).  If the silage has layers of different types of forage (e.g. grass and wholecrop), a separate sub sample should be taken of each forage in each layer.

Sample Bulking, Mixing and Dispatch

Bulk the sub-samples and thoroughly mix.  A minimum of 450g (or to the top of the white lines on the sample bag) should be sent to the laboratory for analysis.

If the total amount of the bulk sample is more than 450g, it will need to be sub-sampled by ‘quartering’.  Tip the sample onto a clean surface such as a clean board or worktop (not rough concrete), and thoroughly mix the sample ensuring an even distribution of material.  Using a clean board or card, halve the sample by dividing across the pile and separating into 2 piles.  If 1 pile is approximately 450g, carefully place it into a clean plastic bag ensuring all the material in this pile is included.

After placing the final sample in the plastic bag, remove as much of the air as possible by squeezing the bag and seal.  Clearly identify the forage type, farm name and address, company and rep’s name, on the sample bag and attach the completed request form. If the samples are to be posted, ensure they will arrive on a day when the laboratory is open (avoid Friday post). 

If necessary, store the sample in a fridge or cool box with ice packs until suitable for dispatch however, do not freeze the sample.