How To Tell The Quality Of Hay Visually

Visual Gauge for hay quality

Why Is Visual Grade Important?

Visual Grade has a very strong correlation to the attractiveness of the hay (for the livestock), that is livestock are much more likely to eat and be attracted to really nice-looking hay. In addition, there is a direct correlation between visual grade and aroma.  Likewise, a high visual grade will have fewer mycotoxins (mould dust, etc). Mycotoxins are notoriously difficult, unreliable, and expensive to test for; yet have a big impact on intake and animal health.

What Is More Important Feed Test or Visual Grade?

At Feed Central, we strongly encourage hay buyers to think about both visual and feed testing attributes of hay before buying. To put it simply, we believe that feed testing and visual grading are equally important. For this reason, our website presents both feed testing and visual information for perspective buyers to make better informed decisions prior to purchase.

Feed Centrals Visual Gauge system for hay quality

Feed Central’s Visual Grade uses a numerical scoring system to develop a visual/subjective grade for each lot of hay. We have 4 visual grades FCAA, FCA, FCB, FCC.  This system is designed to give buyers peace of mind when ordering hay.

The visual grade is determined at the time of on-farm inspection and confirmed when the sample comes to the office (which is also when we do the feed test). Feedback in the past was that this system was complex to understand. Thanks to the “Visual Gauge” launched this year, buyers and sellers can benchmark and assess visual quality characteristics in seconds, giving peace of mind to all parties.

FCC graded hay, will be low quality, heavily weathered, and/or heated, with significant black spot.  FCAA graded hay, will be very high quality, very bright colour, no heating, no weather damage, no black spot or moulds.

More often than not growers value their hay based on the visual attractiveness of the hay. There is extra effort and special management techniques applied to consistently get FCAA graded and it often sells fast, even at a higher price. FCC graded hay often finds a home, but it can and does take time to sell, FCC graded hay normally sells at a significant discount.

Every lot on the Feed Central website is given a visual and presented as per the screen shots below.

Feed central hay lots allows buyers to filter for visual grade and numerous other attributes, including feed test parameters.
Feel free to spend a couple of minutes to go online, play with the system and learn some more.


  • Neville Janke

    Neville Janke is a qualified agronomist and Horticulturist with over 20 years of experience guiding farmers in the Agricultural and Horticultural industries. With this experience, Neville has been helping long-term users of Hay and grain to experience the Feed Central way of sourcing quality Feed for hungry cattle.

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