Understanding My Results

Feeds & Forages

"As Received", "As Is"
Terms that refer to the feed or forage in its "natural state" i.e. how you sampled it, how you feed it.

Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF)

One of the best indicators of forage quality. Calculations for Crude Fiber, Net Energy, and Digestible Dry Matter are based on this number.


The total mineral content of a feedstuff.

Available Protein

Some N in the ADF fraction is normal. When the % heat damaged protein increased about 12% of Crude Protein, a formula gives an Adjusted Crude Protein value. It is not the difference between Crude Protein and Heat Damaged Protein.

Crude Protein

Contains nitrogen from protein as well as NPN sources including ammonia, DNA, RNA. Nitrates are not included.

Crude Fiber

Roughly equals 80% of ADF.

Digestible Dry Matter

From ADF. Digestibility will be affected by forage maturity, growing, harvesting and storage conditions.

Dry Matter Basis

The composition of the forage provided if it was free of moisture.

Dry Matter (DM)

The portion of the sample excluding water. Most methods take into account the volatile nature of some forage components by limiting the time and temperature in the drying oven. Stearns DHIA Laboratories tests for dry matter and calculates the moisture.


A high energy fraction of feed that is concentrated in kernels and seeds. It give 2.25 times more energy than an equal amount of carbohydrate.

Heat Damaged Protein

Protein caused by proteins binding with carbohydrates. Forages look brown-black and smell sweet.


A component of forage cell walls that is almost completely indigestible.


Each mineral is expressed as a percent of the forage. These values are not calculated by NIR and not detected either. Inorganic elements are not detected by NIR, instead equations are formulated based on typical mineral levels at a particular forage quality level.


A calculation from detected dry matter. Moisture = DM - 100. Suggested ranges for moisture are as follows:
Hay baled less than 20%
Haylage stave 50 - 60%
Haylage oxygen-limiting 45 - 55%
Corn Silage 62 - 68%

Net Energy of Lactation (NEl)

The estimate of energy available to produce milk. Units are in mega calories per 100 lb. feed DM. Calculations are based on ADF.

Net Energy of Gain (NEg)

The estimate of energy available to produce a gain in weight. The Value is lower than NEl or NEm because the energy applied to gain is used less efficiently.

Net Energy Maintenance (NEm)

The estimate of energy available to maintain the animal in it’s current body condition.

Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF)

Used in formulating Dry Matter Intake. Nutritionists use NDF in determining rumen fill. Higher NDF results in lower intake.

Non-Fiber Carbohydrates

Also called Nonstructural Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates such as sugars and starch that can be broken down by animal enzymes. Cellulose and hemi-cellulose, broken down in the rumen are not included in this category.

OARDC Net Energy of Lactation (OARDC NEl)

The estimate of energy available to produce milk. Estimates are derived from the digestibility of crude protein, fat, ash, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), NDF-nitrogen (NDFN), and lignin.

Relative Feed Value

The index of forage quality. Relative Feed Value Standards are as follows:

Prime >151

1 125 -151

2 103 - 124

3 87 - 102

4 75 - 86

5 <75

Soluble Protein

Nitrogen that can be extracted in a simple buffer. It is completely soluble in the rumen and rapidly converted to ammonia.


One of the non-fiber carbohydrates, starch is found in large quantities in grains and is a good source of energy.

Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN)

Calculation based on feeding trials. This measure of energy was used more prior to the development of the Net Energy System.

Stearns DHIA Laboratories
825 12th Street South, PO Box 227
Sauk Centre, MN 56378-0227
320.352.2028 · 800.369.2697
Fax 320.352.6163 · Email


Monday-Friday: 8AM-4PM


Drop Off Location
Sauk Centre Front Entrance Drop Off
Open 24 Hours
Refrigerator Available for Water, Milk,
and Wet Feed Samples