AFIA Fodder Testing Proficiency Program

AFIA Fodder Testing Proficiency Program

Background

As a committee of AFIA, the Quality Evaluation Committee (QEC) is responsible for the improvement of proficiency testing of hay and silage in Australia. The need for this committee was highlighted following various meetings held in the mid 1990’s.

Since its inception the QEC has managed issues including details of laboratory methods for testing the nutritional parameters required by the fodder industry. The agreed methods which are updated as required now appear in the manual listed on this web site. This manual also covers sampling, sample preparation, dry matter, crude protein, acid and neutral detergent fibre (ADF and NDF), water-soluble carbohydrates, digestibility and estimated metabolisable energy.

As part of the QEC’s focus on uniformity in fodder testing the AFIA has managed a lab proficiency program which involves most commercial and research labs in Australia and New Zealand.

Why a proficiency testing program for fodder analysis?

The proficiency program commenced several years ago and results have helped individual labs improve their performance. Now the program will be expanded to provide farmers and other feed test customers with access to information on the performance of individual labs in the form of ratings. 

One of the advantages of participating in the AFIA Rating Program is that the range of samples is diverse and representative of the samples regularly tested in Australia and New Zealand. This is particularly relevant for NIR measurements. 

A further advantage is that the testing is rated against standard methods approved by the AFIA QEC, and recognised by industry.

How does it work?

Four times each year, 6 samples of oaten hay and other forages, are sent to participating labs where they are analysed for crude protein content (CP), acid detergent fibre content (ADF), neutral detergent fibre content (NDF) and digestibility (DOMD; DOMD is used to calculate energy content or ME).

AFIA statistically calculates the average CP, ADF, NDF, digestibility and ME content for each sample and using only results from selected laboratories that test with standard AFIA ‘wet chemistry’ reference methods: this average is known as the reference method average (RMA) and is considered to be the ‘true’ value. Reference methods are those approved by AFIA’s QEC which represents major research and commercial feed testing laboratories in Australia and New Zealand.

Each laboratory is given an individual rating for CP, ADF, NDF, digestibility and ME content of every sample. The rating depends on the difference between their result and the RMA. This difference is measured in units known as a Horowitz Standard Deviation (HSD). Ratings from each sample are then combined to give an overall rating for the laboratory of A to D. These ratings are available on this webpage (www.afia.org.au). 

The AFIA rating system is similar to that used by the National Forage Testing Association in USA which manages the routine testing of more than 100 feed testing labs.

Rating

Acceptable range (difference from RMA)

A

<1.00 x HSD

B

1.01 to 2.00 x HSD

C

2.01 to 3.00 x HSD

D

>3.01 x HSD

 

How can industry use the ratings?

While there are a number of factors that influence customers decision on which fodder analysis laboratory to use (i.e. customer service, price) the quality of analysis is seen as key factor in most instances. The ratings provided by this program provide an insight into the relative performance of laboratories in comparison to other participating laboratories. The ratings can not only assist in assessing a laboratories’ performance but also give insight into the variances between results from laboratories.

 

The ratings of the participating laboratories can be accessed by clicking through on the link below. Please note that prior to accessing the ratings you must accept the following clauses.

I accept all clauses listed below (Click here)

Intention

The data provided on this website has been made public to provide information on the fodder analysis industry.

The Quality Evaluation Committee (QEC) of the Australian Fodder Industry Association Limited (ACN 131 678 727) (AFIA) is responsible for the improvement of proficiency testing of hay and silage in Australia.

The QEC manages issues relating to laboratory methods for testing the nutritional parameters required by the fodder industry. The methods are published in the AFIA - Laboratory Methods Manual on the AFIA website www.afia.org.au (Site) and updated from time to time.

To strive for uniformity in fodder testing, AFIA has launched the Fodder Proficiency Testing Program (Program). Under the Program, the QEC oversees a series of inter laboratory ring tests (Results). The ring tests are a vital mechanism to aid quality control in laboratory testing of fodder.

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