A rapid, accurate and convenient way to check dry matter and moisture content of various feed ingredients was introduced by Digi-Star at World Dairy Expo in October. The Moisture Tracker is the first-ever hand-held, portable scanning device that uses NIR (near-infrared) technology, says Robin Starkenburg, the company’s marketing manager.

The gun-like device costs $7,000, plus a $300/year licensing and calibration renewal charge, and will be available for sale in early 2014.

The conventional method of weighing and drying samples to determine dry matter in just one feed ingredient can take quite a bit of time, says Starkenburg. “You’re lucky if you’re doing that a couple times a week, and still not getting the full benefit of a true dry matter reading on a regular basis.”

The Moisture Tracker allows you to “walk along your pile and, with 20 quick trigger pulls, you have your reading. In a matter of minutes, multiple readings from different feeds are now available.”

With readings accurate within 1%, the device allows producers to react quickly to dry matter changes in ingredients, mix consistent rations and improve productivity, Starkenburg says. Feed ingredient calibrations are provided by Rock River Labs, Watertown, WI, and can be updated regularly online.

Using the device is as simple as selecting the desired feed ingredient, putting the base of the device into the feed, and then pulling the trigger to get a moisture and dry matter content reading. Starkenburg recommends taking 20 readings around a feed pile or bunker to get a representative sample.

The tracker’s USB flash drive can then be used to download data into a computer, allowing producers to compare readings with previous data.

The tracker can be pre-ordered at digi-star.com.

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