There are two significant objectives in the preparation of feed and forage samples for international shipping. The first objective is to minimize weight in order to reduce shipping costs. The second objective is to stabilize the sample for the time that it will take for the laboratory to receive the sample. There are times when we may receive samples from international locations in two days, but it may take two weeks in some situations when the shipping company or U.S. Plant Inspection Station does not handle the shipment efficiently.
Depending on the analyses requested, the laboratory would like to receive a minimum of 50 grams of dry basis material (75 grams is preferred). If the material is wet silage at approximately 30% dry matter, we should receive 175 grams to 250 grams of wet material. The amount of material sent will be dependent on the homogeneity of the sample. With less homogeneity, more sample material may need to be sent.
Ideally, to stabilize wet samples for shipment, they should be dried down if this is practical to accomplish. Samples should be dried down to 5 – 8% moisture at approximately 50 to 60 degrees centigrade in order to not incur heat damage.
An alternative is to put wet samples in heavy plastic bags and then vacuum seal the bag. This approach can work well, however, at times the seal will break and samples may spoil to some degree.
If there is need to have a fermentation evaluation of a silage, it is important to not dry the sample as the analysis is run on the original wet sample.
If samples are dried down prior to shipment, and if the percent dry matter of the sample is calculated and noted on the submittal form, we will incorporate that information in the generation of the analyses report.
Please contact our International Specialist Sharon Weaver with any questions, prior to shipping samples to our lab.