Continuing our series with South Carolina's Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers on the labs that SCDA operates, this week we talk about the Feed Lab. Weathers explains that this lab operates in a two-fold capacity; farmers can send in samples for analysis, and the lab also purchases animal feed at retail outlets around the state and analyses the material to make sure that the contents match the label. The fact that the lab can look at each of those things and make sure appropriate amounts are present or that harmful substances are not means South Carolina's livestock producers and pet owners can have confidence int he feed they use.
On average the lab analyzezs 1,500 to 1,800 samples a year, and each of those samples can have multiple tests run that look for various things.
“I have been using the department’s feed lab as a dairy farmer because they analyze the feeds and grains that we use on the farm. When you analyze feed the basics are protein, fat and fiber. And then some of the major elements. It lets you know the value of the feed and that it meets the label that is on it so you know you are getting what you pay for.
This lab does between 1500 and 1800 samples a year based on market conditions, and cost – the more you pay for feed, the more you want to know what is in it and that its meeting the standards.
The pet food products are really picking up because they are to some people like family. The pet food that we check is just as vital.
Farmers can send in samples but this lab also samples randomly from shelves. We want to know that what is on the label is actually what a consumer is buying.
The state law of SC mandates that this is done. The laws are very precise that the responsibility falls to us to do this.”