To establish whether straw is of good quality or not, we can take into account hundreds of technical factors that determine the true quality of the fodder, for example:

  • Detergent Neutral Fibre (NDF)
  • Acid detergent fibre (ADF)
  • Acid Detergent Lignin  (ADL)

According to these values, our straw will fall into the corresponding quality category: top quality straw, first quality straw, second quality straw…

But such analyses take time, time that is not always up to us to have, because… would you leave your livestock with no feed to put in their mouths just to determine, in technical terms, the quality of that feed? We are pretty sure you wouldn’t. 

In these situations, it is perfectly acceptable to take a look into other straw qualities, that will tell us, just as reliably, what its quality is and whether or not it is fit for animal consumption, which is, after all, the main matter.

5 essential aspects to look for when determining straw quality

Humidity

There are some devices that, by means of a metal probe that cuts into the bales, give the humidity and temperature levels of the fodder instantaneously.

The humidity must never exceed 13 %, as this is the only way to ensure the correct storage of the bales and to avoid unwanted fermentation.

Smell

The natural smell of healthy, fit-for-feed straw is very characteristic and pleasant, so if your nostrils pick up something similar to damp, wet soil or mouldiness… consider that those bales are suffering from excess moisture, which may be a product of either the forage itself (it was not dry when baled), or that it was not stored in the correct conditions.

Dust

This is common (although it should not be) in poor or low crop seasons.

Although it does not affect the quality of the product itself, it is something to be taken into account when agreeing the price of the bales. Why? Because dust and stones are heavy, which means that our one tonne bale does not weigh exactly one tonne of just straw.

Texture

The fibrous sheaths of the straw must be easy to bend and break.

If they are hard and resist bending, is a clear indicator that the fodder is of lower energy value.

Color

This is the least decisive parameter, given that the straw will be of one colour or another depending on the cereal it comes from. 

The common colour is yellowish, of more or less intensity. When a greenish-grey tone appears on the surface of the straw, this is when you should be on alert: it is most likely that fungal contamination has occurred, which can be very harmful to the animals.

What if the appearance of the straw I received does not convince me?

It is very important that you reassure on the fodder you received being of good quality before unpacking it completely and feeding it to your livestock.

If you have received bales with a suspicious smell or color, very hard texture or too much dust or even weeds, it is better to send it back.

The causes of poor quality fodder can be various: fermentation due to excessive moisture in the bales, storing the bales in poor conditions both in the store or during transport…

Do you have any questions about fodder? Contact us so that we can solve it.