Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hay test results

Here are the laboratory test results for the hay I bought this year.  Complicated stuff to interpret! I've edited out the test results for "Dry" - what you're seeing here are the results for "As Fed."  I didn't test for selenium as there's probably none (this area is very deficient) but the donkeys have a mineral block with selenium added and also get a pelleted mineral/ vitamin now and then.

I have to say I am disappointed in the level of non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) which should be 10% or less for donkeys, and I think the Total Digestible Energy should be a lot lower too.   It's pretty high fiber too but all of my donkeys should be able to handle that, given their ages and good teeth. The low protein level is good though, I think!

With our cool, wet Spring, I was hoping the sugar levels would be lower, since the grass was not stressed, but there are SO many factors and most hay growers around here just cut what grows rather than trying to manage pasture.

This will have to be mixed with barley straw in order to provide enough low energy fiber.

Dr. Burden from the UK Donkey Sanctuary has very kindly looked at these results too and given me her educated view on mineral levels and their ratios as well as the other test results - I am hugely appreciative as there's only so much I am able to glean by looking at the numbers!



Moisture 8.66
Dry Matter 91.34 

Crude Protein 5.10
Soluble Crude Protein 41.04
ADF-CP 0.15
UIP ( Bypass Protein) 29.48

FIBRES36.99 % Wet Chemistry
Neutral Detergent Fibre 55.01
Total Digestible Nutrients 54.88

Calcium 0.36
Copper 5.61
Phosphorus 0.16
Potassium 0.83
Sulphur 0.13
Magnesium 0.18
Zinc 18.72
Iron 460.34
Manganese 170.90
Sodium 0.21

NSC 13.24
NFC 20.73
Relative Feed Value 92.79

Starch 2.02
Equine Digestible Energy 2  MCal/Kg
Total Sugar 11.2
ESC = 9.10%


  1. I have been doing some intense research on just this subject, and am waiting for my own hay analysis to come back. I'd have to sit down and do the math, but just glancing at this, I think you have some of the same issues I am having. Particularly, very high iron levels which can lead to impaired absorption of zinc and copper. All of which leads to chronic foot trouble and IR like symptoms. Do you have any of those troubles with your donkeys?

  2. Will you also test your straw? I have heard it can have high NSC levels. My little overweight donkey is losing weight (finally!), but I am concerned about finding her low NSC forage for the Winter months. I do plan on having my hay tested for the first time, in hopes that I won't have to soak it through the Winter.

    My 2 horses have signs of possible high iron which is also concerning and another good reason to test.

    1. Hi Toby, I really should test the straw this year! I'm not too worried about the iron - 1,000 ppm is considered high but I should test our well water too! The vet was here today to check teeth and suggested "more exercise!" I know she's right - lol and she also suggested having the donkeys carry some weight to help burn off some calories. Withholding feed is not a good idea though. Please share your hay test results when you get them! - where are you?

  3. Thanks for your reply Cynthia! It seems we still have a lot to learn about NSC and iron, and probably many other things related to the care of our animals. It's been great to read about your experience, thank you for sharing it on your blog. I've only had a donkey in my life since February of this year so I have LOTS to learn (regardless of having horses for many years).

    I am in Washington state on the Kitsap Peninsula. The hay I buy is from eastern WA. I have been meaning to test my well water too. We have an expensive filtration system, but I suppose the only way to know if it is working is to test. I will definitely share results when I get them.