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The FAA group continues to invest considerable time and money in research to improve the analysis of forages.

Since its formation in 2000, it has funded a number of research projects linked to the improvement of forage analysis.  Research has largely concentrated in 5 areas:-

  1. Collection of animal data (energy content and protein degradation chararacteristics) linked to NIR scans of the forage. This type of study is very expensive and time consuming and has included work on:-
    1. High ME grass silage
    2. High DM grass silage
    3. 90 maize silages
    4. 90 Whole crop cereal silages
  2. Generation of NIRS equations to predict silage quality from the animal experiments.
  3. Generation of NIRS equations to predict silage quality from standard chemistry parameters e.g. dry matter, protein, NDF, etc.
  4. Production of practical methods to improve forage sample collection on farm.
  5. Defination of standard quality control procedures in all FAA laboratories.

More details of some of the studies are shown below.

The Forage Analysis Assurance (FAA) Group – the quality control “governing body” for NIRS* wet silage analysis laboratories in the UK – has improved the accuracy of the equation its members use to determine the energy of silages. As a result farmers and nutritionists may see differences in their analysis this season especially for crops with high digestibilities. “The new equation reduces the energy of very high ME silages so the need to manually “correct or tweak” rations by farmers and their nutritionists has gone” says FAA member Dr John Allen.

The feeding of whole crop cereal (WCC) silages has risen rapidly over recent years to become a popular feed ingredient in ruminant rations – and for good reason. It’s easy to grow, harvest and ensile and when produced correctly it’s an excellent, cost effective feed. Studies with dairy cows have shown increases in dry matter and energy intakes, improving milk yields, and the fall in cereal prices in recent years has further fuelled interest. However while the nutritional benefits are well documented, there has been a significant problem when using WCC silages relating to the accuracy of the analysis on which rationing decisions are made...

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