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Taking a Sample

photo credit: Georgia Aquarium

Things to keep in mind when taking a sample:

Representation – An analysis is only as good as the sample submitted.  Every effort should be made to ensure that the sample truly reflects and characterizes the material to be analyzed.

Sample size – There must be sufficient quantity to analyze.  The typical sample should fill a 1-quart plastic zip lock bag.  Drier samples will weigh 75-150g. Wetter samples will weigh 300-500g.  If you have any questions regarding the size of your samples, contact us ahead of time and we’ll work together to develop a plan of action.

Freezing – It is a good practice to freeze wet samples prior to submission.  This will help prevent marked chemical changes due to sample degradation should they be held up in transit.

Common Sample Types

Animal samples – All animal samples must be euthanized prior to submission. DO NOT submit live animal samples.

Mammals – The largest intact mammal carcass that we can process is an adult rat.  Guinea pigs and rabbits are too large. We hope to be able to process samples of this nature soon.

Bones – We are not able to process large bones, e.g., cattle femurs or ribs.  Intact carcasses of fish, chicks or rats are acceptable. Their bones are fragile enough to process with our existing systems.

Baled hay – Hays of different types, cuttings or lots should be sampled separately. Using a Penn State Forage Sampler (or other suitable hay probe), core 12-20 bales selected at random through the small square end. Combine all core samples and submit for analysis.

Pasture – randomly select 12-20 sites where the animals have been grazing and clip a handful of forage at grazing height.  Further cut each handful into 2-3 inch (5-8 cm) pieces into clean plastic bucket. Thoroughly blend all of the sampled forage together. Take a one pound (0.5 kg) sample, pack tightly in a plastic bag and freeze for 12 hours prior to submitting for analysis. Freezing will help prevent marked chemical changes due to respiration or shipping delays.