An alfalfa-grass baleage sample took top honors at the 2010 World Forage Analysis Superbowl luncheon last week at World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI.

Diane Pounder accepted the overall winner prize of $2,500 for a mix of Roadrunner alfalfa and Niva orchardgrass that she, her husband, John, and son, Bryan, raise on their Delavan, WI, farm. The sample’s relative forage quality (RFQ) score was 281 and it tested 49.8% dry matter, 19.6% NDF and 22.5% crude protein.

“As we look at RFQ, we are looking not just at the fiber, but at the digestibility of the fiber,” said University of Wisconsin Extension forage specialist Dan Undersander after announcing Pounder’s name. “Some of these grasses can do very well in dairy rations. Her sample had an RFQ of 281, which was in the range of many that we heard today. The milk per ton was 3,593 lbs and that’s an excellent number.”

Undersander, who helps organize the annual contest, noted that several other winning entries also were alfalfa-grass mixes. Overall, 279 entries were submitted from 25 states, down 43 entries from the 2009 contest.

The contest has six categories – commercial baleage, commercial hay, dairy hay, dairy haylage, BMR dairy corn silage and standard dairy corn silage. Dairy samples are judged 60% on laboratory analysis, 30% on visual and 10% on milk per ton, said Undersander.

“The commercial samples are judged similarly, except we don’t use milk per ton. We do 70% on lab analysis and 30% on visual judging. AgSource Laboratories tested all the samples, except we did do an in vitro 30-hour digestibility on the corn silage and that was done at the University of Wisconsin Marshfield lab,” he added.

Cash prizes totaled more than $20,000, including $2,500 for the overall winner, $1,500 for first-place entrants, $500 for second-place, $250 for third-place and $100 for fourth-place finishers.

Two $1,000 prizes, new last year, are called Quality Counts awards.

“The idea behind these awards is to recognize a measurement of forage quality that is kind of new or something we should be thinking about,” Undersander told those attending the mid-week luncheon. “This year, for corn silage, for example, we selected a person with the highest crude protein in the corn silage. It’s not particularly involved in milk per acre, because there we’re looking more for energy and those kinds of things. But, obviously, crude protein is an issue.”

Crude protein in Superbowl entries ranged from 7% to 10%, Undersander said. The Quality Counts winner is Arlin Benner of Yippee! Farms, Mount Joy, PA, with crude protein “about two points above average,” he added.

The other Quality Counts award is for the least amount of ash in hay and haylage, he added.

“What we saw again in this year’s entries is that the ash content ranged from about 8% up to 16%. Obviously, ash is mostly just silica and dirt. So we like to have as low an ash content as we can.” Philip Saunders, Dansville, NY, took the prize with an ash content of about 8%. “Our average, here in the Midwest, is about 12%,” the forage specialist said.

For a listing of the top winners of each category, see the story, “Superbowl Winners Announced.” For more on how the Pounders raise top-quality baleage, watch for the November issue of Hay & Forage Grower.