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How to Gather a Hay Sample

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

I talk about having your hay tested all time around here. This short video will show HOW I go about gathering the sample and then what I do with it!

First I find some hay that I think will be low sugar low starch. Here are a few things I look for (it can be only one of these things or a few of them!):

  1. Grass hay that is allowed to fully mature before cutting.

  2. Grass hay that is grown in the low lands that is either irrigated or has a high water table.

  3. Grass hay that has been rained on AFTER it was cut BEFORE it was baled.

  4. Grass hay that has been cut before noon.

Once I find hay that I feel could come back low enough to purchase I go get a sample. It’s so easy to do even kids can do it!

I go to my local feed store where my local Extension Service keeps a hay probe for the public to use. It’s free to borrow it. I just sign it out and off I go! (My name is on that log more times than any other person. LOL!)


The Hay Probe

Developed by farmers for farmers and recommended for the fast and convenient extraction of core samples for testing purposes. Probes methodically collect samples without mess or contamination from handling. The inside diameter of the shaft is 7/8″ so samples stay loose for easy bagging with the cleanout rod between samplings. Cleanout rod pushes up to 20 core samples into a 1-gallon zip-lock bag that is suspended from the ABS protective shield. The heat-treated, hardened steel, serrated tip provides aggressive cutting action. A protective cap is included. Shaft and connections are made of stainless steel. Unit is 24″ L and takes 18″ core samples that are 5/8″ in dia. A cordless drill is recommended. One-year warranty. -From Amazon

I like to collect hay samples from between 20 and 30 bales. If there are several stacks of hay then I collect from 5-6 bales from each stack. If there is only one stack then I be sure to get at least 20 samples from different bales. They say the test will only be as good as the sample so I make sure to take a VERY good sample!

Once I have a gallon zip lock baggie full of hay then I fill out the paperwork for Equi-Analytical.


After I fill out the top of the paperwork then I decide which package I want! Here are the ones I choose from. I try to keep it very simple and yet get all the info I need to balance the hay for my ponies. The one below is the Equi-Tech option. It tests for most of the things I need to know to help balance my hay and doesn’t break the bank. It’s for people who test often… which is me!


The Trainer option is the other one I usually use. This is a traditional test that covers all the bases I feel are important. I don’t worry about the Selenium test because Montana is low in Selenium and California Trace minerals deal with that well.

Once in a while I will do the very simple test at the bottom, the Carb pack. But I don’t like to do that one because it doesn’t give me enough information.


Then I check the option I want to use!


Then I package up the sample, put my check in and send it off to Equi-Analytical.

This last sample cost me $28 + $7.65 for shipping = $35.65

But the piece of mind is totally worth it!

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