Posted by Reedy Fork Organic Farm on 3/31/2011 to News
"If you had your own self-sufficient farm with a few cows, you could draw conclusions about feed quality by feeding forage - like alfalfa - to your cows and observing how they thrive and produce. On a larger scale, this method wouldn't be practical. A scientific estimate would be needed, and that's what a relative feed value (RDV) provides. Relative feed value or RFV is simply defined as a measure of forage or feed quality so that a fair price can be set. If you're a feed customer and routinely buy hay or alfalfa for your dairy cows, you've probably heard some running dialog that included RFV figures. Historically, nutritionists have been searching for ways to measure the feed value, and various methods have been used with varying degrees of success. A common measure, RVF is an index (a single value) that estimates feed quality by plugging in estimated ADF and NDF numbers into a formula. What are ADF and NDF exactly? ADF - Acid Detergent Fiber NDF - Neutral Detergent Fiber This may sound like something better suited to feeding your washing machine rather than your cows, but let me explain. In a lab setting, ADF determines how digestible the feed is, and the NDF measures feed intake for the animal. Together, they establish the RFV. Crude protein levels are not measured or included in the equation. Looks Aren't Everything.. Your mama was right after all, and it's even true for forage quality. Feed is not measured based on color, stem fineness or leafiness. Feed that is lovely to behold can be nutritionally deficient and an overall poor value. What's a Good RFV for Dairy Cows? One question that should be asked before feed is purchased is the RFV for that product. Why? High RFV or an RFV that's above 150 is what's needed for high producing dairy cows. An organic farmer wants a feed that naturally nourishes his cows and gives them what they need to produce the milk we all enjoy. A higher number indicates higher protein and better taste. (Ask any dairy cow.) The more mature the plants are, the lower the RFV, so a timely harvest is crucial. An RFV of 150 plus is considered ""prime,"" and the grade goes down for nearly every day the harvest is delayed. Where's the best place to buy a high RFV feed? We just knew you were going to ask. And we're the answer to that question. If you're interested in a high quality organic cow feed for your herd, contact us. All of our alfalfa has been tested for RFV, so you'll be assured that your feed is of the very highest quality! "