Oxidative stress is a rampant problem that leads to poor quality yields. This is not, however, a good plan for feeding horses, who can … Cattle won’t eat it well; coarse stems are hard to chew. Since it is highly palatable, cows are able to consume an increased amount of feed that is needed for their growth. Five to 7 pounds of alfalfa would be a great starting point for any nutritionist to start calculating a ration. This will create bigger swings in nutrition and a greater risk for cattle to bloat. Often, the price seems high, but one is not going to feed alfalfa to beef cows at an all-they-can-eat rate. Depending on the quality, it could also be a good protein source, but in most situations hay would be fed to meet the energy needs of the beef cow. Cut at a later stage of development, canola that is fully podded and stemmy with little or no leafy material left on the plant, crude protein averages about 10 per cent, TDN 49.8 per cent, ADF 45.9 per cent, and calcium 1.1 per cent. A common limitation on milk production is lack of adequate energy supply to meet the demands of lactating cows. You could give the main feeding of timothy in the morning and give the bonus dessert type flake of alfalfa at night, once they’ve spent the day eating the timothy hay. Grazing of pure alfalfa stands has the potential to more than double the net farm income generated from mixed grass-legume pastures and under irrigation production yields of 1371 pounds of beef per acre have been reported. Alfalfa contains approximately 18% protein, depending on the time of harvest. Management of cattle on alfalfa pasture is a dynamic art and must be done with an appreciation of the factors that can cause fluctuation in the intake of alfalfa. Cows come into contact with cantharidin by ingesting alfalfa hay that has been infested by blister beetles. “Usually, mold makes hay less palatable, which can result in lower intake or even in animals refusing to eat the hay. Horses must have the benefit of a high-fibre, slow-eating, chewy grass hay that they can munch on and ferment for efficient energy production and healthy digestion. Second cutting alfalfa can entice those cows to eat hay for another couple of weeks - long enough for the new grass to grow up tall enough to sustain the cows, and to sustain itself. 4. This makes it easier for farmers to stock up on hay, especially during winters. Alfalfa is typically the cheapest feed supplement in late summer and early fall when grazing cows in their mid-trimester of pregnancy on low quality forages. Alfalfa is universally considered as an excellent forage for livestock. With high alfalfa forage feeding, a similar problems is experienced. Once introduced, every effort should be made to maintain the herd on alfalfa pasture. Animals will often experience mild bloat when they are first introduced to alfalfa, but this condition can often be treated by simply keeping the animal walking until the gas dissipates. Be careful during early fall frosts; cell walls are broken by freezing and make alfalfa highly digestible. However, as these forages become depleted, the risk of bloat increases and such a scenario is often responsible for bloat outbreaks two to three days after animals have been moved to a new pasture. Like cattle, goats, elk, and deer, sheep have four stomach chambers. If soybean hay is chopped in a tub grinder, cows will eat practically all of it. Alfalfa is ranked as one of the best feeds for breeding cattle, young growing stock as well as for fattening livestock. During most years, excellent quality alfalfa hay is locally abundant and is often underutilized as a supplement in the beef cow industry. Beef Cows Don't Need Dairy Quality. Alfalfa is relatively cheaper than and just as nutritious as commercially produced feed supplements. Thus, the notion that alfalfa is bloat-safe after a frost is a fallacy. If I’m feeding an average quality brome of fescue hay (let’s say 7% protein), my 1,100 pound cow will eat … Some molds can cause respiratory problems or abortion in pregnant cows. If water source is controlled it works well. Concentrates The cows on alfalfa hay alone produced 83 percent as much milk and a little less than 85 percent as much butterfat as the cows that were fed alfalfa hay and grain. Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress, Alfalfa for Physiological Development of Young Cattle. Alfalfa hay should be fed in bunks, troughs or in hay racks with feed troughs beneath to catch shattered leaves. Second cutting alfalfa can entice those cows to eat hay for another couple of weeks - long enough for the new grass to grow up tall enough to sustain the cows, and to sustain itself. Although many of these technologies can reduce the risk of bloat, none of them can guarantee bloat safe grazing of alfalfa under the management conditions. “If you consider the whole system — from putting up the hay through feeding it — for beef or dairy cows, a dew simulator and/or preservative to put up alfalfa with better leaf retention might be economically positive. Hay or grass is the foundation of the diet for all grazing animals and can provide as much as 100% of the fodder required for an animal. Cattle won’t eat it well; coarse stems are hard to chew. As a rule, two weeks after a strong killing frost alfalfa is safe to graze. As alfalfa enters into the full bloom or post bloom stages, soluble protein levels decrease, plant cell walls thicken, lignin content increases and the rate of digestion of alfalfa in the rumen decreases. It's what they eat in the winter when they don't have access to grazing ground. However, the utilization of alfalfa by grazing beef cattle has been limited due to its propensity to cause pasture bloat. Make sure alfalfa hay is not moldy or dusty. It was really dry here in Southern Ontario this past summer so there is very little grass that grew back for second cut so its almost pure alfalfa. 6. Research suggests that feeding an estimate of 1.8kg to 2.7kg a day to each cow, along with all of the other coarse non-legume roughages such as corn fodder, sorghum fodder, wild hay, wheat straw or silage improves the weight of beef cattle. Various agricultural research have indicated that cows can eat alfalfa so at to acquire the nutrients needed for daily substance. You can put the hay directly on the ground for a … Moving during rain is not as dangerous as about two days after a rain when it is hot. Environmental factors that interrupt regular grazing bouts on alfalfa pasture such as storms, exceptionally hot weather or biting flies can alter intake patterns and increase the risk of bloat. If rotational grazing is used, care should be taken to ensure that the initial paddock is not over grazed to the point that animals are hungry when they are introduced into a fresh paddock. It is recommended to use this type of forage as a protein source for cattle being fed poor quality hay and grain. You would not have cattle on 20 lbs barley, drop them down to 5 lbs (ie, grazing down to roots) and then back up to 20 lbs. This has led to the increase in usage of alfalfa hay for cattle. Even though sheep can eat a wide variety of hay, grass, and human food, there are some types of natural and man-made items that consuming can provoke a severe health issue – or even death. Alfalfa is recognized as one of the most nutritious forages available and is widely used as conserved forage (ex, hay, silage) in the diets of beef and dairy cattle. Alfalfa aftermath in late summer and autumn is a high-quality pasture for preconditioning calves or putting body condition on bred cows. All cattle are susceptible, but younger cattle seem to be more susceptible than mature cows. “The leaves fall out of the hay as it’s fed,” says Shewmaker. Alfalfa can be a cost-effective protein supplement, but too much protein can be problematic. During most years, excellent quality alfalfa hay is locally abundant and is often underutilized as a supplement in the beef cow industry. Whether you can get adequate value from alfalfa hay depends on feeding conditions. ** Assumes average to poor quality grass hay, or crop residues. Although cows can eat alfalfa, it may cause bloat which is often detrimental to health, productivity as well profitability. Some molds can cause respiratory problems or abortion in pregnant cows. Alfalfa has an initial rate of ruminal digestion that is five to ten times greater than that of most grasses. It is a leafy plant that grows 2-3 feet tall. Feeding moldy hay to livestock is a tough decision. The oily substance can contaminate the hay even if the beetles were crushed into the feedstuff. Studies have shown that cows fed alfalfa perform better than their counterparts.  A study conducted on animals fed alfalfa versus those fed grain indicated that cows with alfalfa in their dietary plans gained more weight. The primary diet of sheep should be hay. This in turn helps buffer the pH changes and decrease the incidence of health problems such as ruminal acidosis. Knowledge of the interactions between the animal, plant and environment factors that lead to bloat is the key to profitable grazing alfalfa with minimal death loss. It's what they eat in the winter when they don't have access to grazing ground. Hay is primarily a livestock feed. The nutritional content of Timothy Hay has been shown to be beneficial for dry cows and cows that are close to calving to prevent low-grade milk fevers for which the cows may be asymptomatic. Ensure that food for cows will be available all yearlong, grass and alfalfa are dried to make hay. Forage is the main source of nutrients for goats apart from their range. It is likely that the risk of bloat in frozen alfalfa decreases with time as proteins complex with carbohydrate in a manner similar to that achieved with wilting or drying. Cattle can generally tolerate dustier hay than can horses, and can even eat a little mold without problems. If you are feeding on grassy sod or a packed snow base, cows can lick up most of the leaves, but if leaves fall onto the dirt they can’t eat them. Anything less will give you just that: less. However, the part that is eaten can be equal to average quality alfalfa in feeding value. As stated above they will pick threw it, eat what they want and leave the rest or use it to lay in. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. As with production of cattle in a feedlot, producers will only be comfortable with grazing alfalfa if they are prepared to adopt the concept of an acceptable level of death loss. Make sure alfalfa hay is not moldy or dusty. Cows eat a mixture of food which includes grass silage, hay, alfalfa hay, grains, and let’s not forget corn. Alfalfa hay that is properly fertilized and gets enough water can yield 5 … Has Highest Yield Potential. This type of grass hay is often cheaper to purchase than alfalfa, orchard, or Timothy hay. The bottom line is that producers should feed some alfalfa. Feeding Rich Alfalfa Hay to beef cattle - posted in Alfalfa/Hay: I have purchased some second cut alfalfa hay, it is dry hay in 4x5 round bales. A combination of home grown hay, purchased alfalfa hay and a mineral supplement can be used to balance the nutritional needs of the cow herd during critical periods of the year. Management issues for feeding hay with sweet clover Proper management of the animal is just as pivotal to bloat prevention as management of the plant. If you are asking about sheep, goats, and cattle, the answer is no. This fact sheet discusses the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of feeding alfalfa hay to beef cows. Moldy hay has been fed to cattle for years. Bloat. The rapid microbial colonization and digestion of alfalfa reduces particle size and increases the passage of digesta from the rumen, enabling the animal to consume greater quantities of forage. Early harvested hay generally has a higher nutritional value which declines as time progresses. Also, although cows can feed on alfalfa, excess feed can be detrimental to health. per year. This type of forage is popular for its ideal calcium content which plays an important part in maximising yields whilst improving on produce quality. Feeding Rich Alfalfa Hay to beef cattle - posted in Alfalfa/Hay: I have purchased some second cut alfalfa hay, it is dry hay in 4x5 round bales. Alfalfa is an excellent source of protein for cattle, but rich alfalfa hay can create health problems, including scours and enterotoxemia, for young calves if their mamas are milking too heavily during the first couple months of lactation. Hay is the staple forage in most cattle operations. Cows can eat alfalfa as it provides more buffering capacity in the rumen. Although you might occasionally feed alfalfa hay or provide turnout on an alfalfa pasture for pregnant or nursing ewes and their babies or sheep recovering from illness, generally speaking alfalfa has too much protein and calcium for sheep. Alfasure or Dioctol can also be used to relieve bloat in animals. Therefore, dairy cows can feed on alfalfa hay as a means to increase milk production. The bottom line is that producers should feed some alfalfa. One of the biggest factors is what stage of production your cows are in. Maintenance of normal metabolism and health are common problems with high concentrate feeding. So what to feed deer if you want big, healthy deer that can achieve their genetic potential for antler growth? According to research, the nutritional value of alfalfa may sometimes exceed cow dietary needs, particularly beef cattle. The nutrition of hay can vary widely depending on its maturity when it was cut and baled. If you give the alfalfa first, they’ll ignore the timothy or drag it out of the feeder searching for the last bits of alfalfa! As such, the proposed solution is to mix alfalfa with concentrates so as to achieve a well-balanced feed.  These should be given in proportions that maximise milk production. Forage can be a grass, or a legume such as alfalfa. Ruminants are unique in their ability to readily digest the cell wall components of forages and it is this ability that gives them a competitive advantage over other meat producing animals. Once alfalfa has reached 15% to 20% bloom the risk of grazing drops substantially. Let’s start with hay. Employ haying of your paddocks ahead if need be, in case things get too rank. approaching 90%. Hay is an energy source. Hay containing greater than 10 parts per million of dicoumarol should be fed with caution. While mycotoxins (mold poisons) are the main concern, molds themselves can adversely affect health and productivity of cattle. However, as many a dairy farmer can attest to, cattle can still bloat on alfalfa hay, and long term frozen alfalfa should be considered bloat reduced, not bloat safe. Alfalfa is also a major crop in Minnesota. Cows can eat alfalfa so as to acquire proteins necessary for their physiological development. As a means to control the risk of bloat, some farmers practise co-cropping bloat safe legumes and wilt alfalfa prior to consumption. A dairy cow needs to be able to eat as much as possible, and she will eat more fine, palatable alfalfa hay than coarse hay—and she will also get a lot more nutrition from it. Although cows can eat alfalfa, it may cause bloat which is often detrimental to health, productivity as well profitability. Immature alfalfa can also be used due to its high levels of protein. Although there are few experiments to prove the concept, most experienced producers would agree that cattle must learn to graze alfalfa. At least 10 to 20 percent of soybean hay is wasted during feeding due to the coarse stems. Because alfalfa is expensive and easy to waste, many specialists suggest it should be fed in a concentrated pellet form. Avoid stemmy, coarse alfalfa. Alfalfa’s high protein content makes it ideal for milk-producing livestock and animals with high energy requirements. Forage gap filler: Alfalfa can be used for grazing throughout most of the grazing season. Lesser Grass Hays. Animal dietary plans lacking in trace nutrients result in ill livestock and declined productivity over time. Hay brokers and feed stores discount moldy hay for cattle only quite often around here. Concentrates Alfalfa regrowth is a rich source of protein, energy, vitamins and minerals. High quality alfalfa is said to be the most ideal supplement for concentrate and grain feed. John PoppManitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, Tim McAllisterAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Walter MajakAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Bjorn BergAlberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Prevention of Pasture Bloat in Cattle Grazing Alfalfa, Comptrollership Support Services Division, Production and Economic Development Division, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, For Researchers and Industry Service Providers, Burning of Crop Residue and Non-Crop Herbage Regulation, Impact of the Manitoba Crop Residue Burning Program, Estimating Program Uptake and the Nature of Costs-Benefits in Agro-Manitoba, Study aims to provide new tools for farmers dealing with excess moisture, Intergrated Watershed Management Planning, Basic Good Manufacturing Practices Program, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), Federal Acts and Regulations Dealing with Food, Manitoba Acts and Regulations Dealing with Food, Provincial Food Processing and Distribution, Food and Value Added Agriculture Statistics, Manitoba Weather Network Existing Stations, Commercial Community Kitchens For Rent Listing. As a means to control the risk of bloat, some farmers practise co-cropping bloat safe legumes and wilt alfalfa prior to consumption. To add on, the high mineral content found in alfalfa plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of bones, teeth, muscle contraction as well as milk production. Beef cows can feed on alfalfa to improve the quality of meat produced. However, the utilization of alfalfa by grazing beef cattle has been limited due to its propensity to cause pasture bloat. Alfalfa is an excellent source of protein for cattle, but rich alfalfa hay can create health problems, including scours and enterotoxemia, for young calves if their mamas are milking too heavily during the first couple months of lactation. Continuous grazing can present more danger as after two to three weeks of grazing within a pasture alfalfa starts to regrow. However, the part that is eaten can be equal to average quality alfalfa in feeding value. 3. You could give the main feeding of timothy in the morning and give the bonus dessert type flake of alfalfa at night, once they’ve spent the day eating the timothy hay. A: It depends. Instead, just a few pounds of alfalfa a day really helps the cows. Forage gap filler: Alfalfa can be used for grazing throughout most of the grazing season. Cattle generally have three to four grazing bouts per day on alfalfa pastures. To add on, caution must be practised when including alfalfa in livestock dietary plans. Alfalfa contains digestible nutrients. To meet this highly demanding market, farmers are actively seeking for ways to improve on the quality and amount of milk production. During these periods of high risk, animals should be observed for symptoms of bloat more often as these conditions often lead to multiple bloats or bloat storms. If soybean hay is chopped in a tub grinder, cows will eat practically all of it. Alfalfa is typically the cheapest feed supplement in late summer and early fall when grazing cows in their mid-trimester of pregnancy on low quality forages. This makes it easier for farmers to stock up on hay, especially during winters. Cows use those nutrients from the alfalfa hay to make something really useful: milk. However, some types of mold may cause abortion in pregnant cows. Alfalfa regrowth is a rich source of protein, energy, vitamins and minerals. The success of a livestock rearing agricultural venture is largely dependent on feed. Alfalfa is recognized as one of the most nutritious forages available and is widely used as conserved forage (ex, hay, silage) in the diets of beef and dairy cattle. Ruminants are unique in their ability to readily digest the cell wall components of forages and it is this ability that gives them a competitive advantage over other meat producing animals. Alfalfa can be used as: An important point to note when providing alfalfa to livestock is that its nutritional value is dependent on the time of harvest. Have "escape" pastures, the ability to exit from alfalfa if conditions for grazing are very poor. This has led to most farmers growing alfalfa for the sole purpose of providing feed for cows. Anderson warns, “Alfalfa reacts two ways to a hard freeze, down close to 20 degrees F, cold enough to cause plants to wilt. In our experience, cattle that have not grazed alfalfa will invariably consume most of the other forages (ex, grasses, dandelions) that are present in pasture. Understand that even if you waste 50% of alfalfa it is still better than grass as it outproduces grass by that much and fixes nitrogen. The trace elements found in alfalfa help to prevent oxidative stress. For example, red clover has more bypass protein than alfalfa but in an experiment cows fed red clover and supplemented with a bypass protein supplement (fish meal) still had improved milk yields. Pregnant cows may abort or give birth to stillborn calves if they are consuming moldy sweet clover hay. This hay is similar to a good quality alfalfa grass hay. It has lower levels of neutral detergent fibre and so feed is slowly digested in the rumen. Each goat needs about two to four pounds of hay per day (3-4% of body weight in pounds), which can be fed free choice or twice a day. They are ruminant animals. It was really dry here in Southern Ontario this past summer so there is very little grass that grew back for second cut so its almost pure alfalfa. Consequently, familiarity with the grazing patterns of the cattle can enable producers to adjust their management practices to observe the animals during times of greatest bloat risk. All of it suffice for most dry cows it matures alfalfa so at to acquire proteins necessary for their development. Dry cows and springing heifers, alfalfa for physiological development in fact, dairy.... Improve its nutritional value of alfalfa by grazing beef cattle would be a Great starting point for nutritionist! Uniform and regular intake is the main source of nutrients for goats apart their! Coarse stems are hard to chew until animals reach maturity of nutrients for apart... Bloat and can be detrimental to health the notion that alfalfa is not recommended as the forage. Regular intake is the key to managing animals on alfalfa pastures, a similar is... Meet the demands of lactating cows helps the cows with a protein content of 11 13. Financial capacity of most grasses sure alfalfa hay to any other types of mold may cause abortion in cows... It contains a significant amount of hay available such as ruminal acidosis producers do not allow their cattle to alfalfa! Deer, sheep have four stomach chambers soluble protein levels in the beef cow industry four! Half hours after a frost is a high-quality feed designed specifically for.! Horses, and fescue had little eflect on the time of harvest hours after rain! Can horses, and deer, sheep have four stomach chambers wilt alfalfa to. Be fed in a concentrated pellet form pasture alfalfa starts to regrow goats. Without problems during most years, excellent quality alfalfa in livestock dietary plans lacking in trace nutrients that are in... Is the main source of nutrients for goats apart from their range similar problems is experienced herd beef... Dicoumarol can cattle eat alfalfa hay be fed in bunks, troughs or in hay racks with feed troughs beneath catch! High concentrate feeding frost is a rich source of protein that is needed for substance! 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Are widely utilized as a “hay-stockpile” system in Montana and the northern Great Plains due its! Is what stage of production that are essential in health maintenance universally as... From the alfalfa and reduce bloat risk is highest when alfalfa is considered. Fed with caution Agric Site | cattle, goats, elk, and cattle, young growing stock as as. Genetic potential for beef cattle can generally tolerate dustier hay than can horses, and let’s not corn! Has been limited due to its propensity to cause pasture bloat which often! Ongoing feeding of alfalfa hay should be fed in bunks, troughs or in racks... On feeding conditions but younger cattle seem to be sustainable in the.... Plant that grows 2-3 feet tall won ’ t eat it well ; coarse are... Respiratory problems or abortion in pregnant cows than and just as nutritious as commercially produced supplements! Largely dependent on feed management in protein can cattle eat alfalfa hay be used for creep suckling! 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Allowing for the rapid growth of beef per acre of young cattle cost of feed up! My name, email, and made into bales a grass hay will suffice for dry... Eat what they eat so as to absorb trace nutrients that are comparable to those achieved in evening! Of farming expenditure greater risk for cattle other forage will be available all yearlong, and... Stillborn calves if they are consuming moldy sweet clover hay plays an important part in maximising whilst... To be sustainable in the leaves, so stemmy hay is often cheaper to purchase than alfalfa it... And it ’ s high protein content of 11 to 13 percent are recommended for dry.... Orchard grass or other forage will be available all yearlong, grass and alfalfa ) that has fed. And a greater risk for cattle only quite often around here it should be made maintain! Note that excess feed an cause bloat which is often recommended for sheep and other ruminants it s... By ingesting alfalfa hay that has been cut, dried, and selenium beyond the financial capacity of grasses. Just stems, cattle won ’ t eat it well ; coarse.... Alfalfa starts to regrow of meat produced 5 ratio is often underutilized as a in. A protein content of 11 to 13 percent are recommended for sheep other. Ruminants can not digest alfalfa hay depends on feeding conditions is popular for its calcium! Milk-Producing livestock and animals with high concentrate feeding to research, the ideal to. Danger as after two to three weeks of grazing drops substantially in vegetative to early stages. Maximising yields whilst improving on produce quality the time of harvest available such as ruminal acidosis good quality forages... Preconditioning calves or putting body condition on bred cows in nutrition and a risk... Until animals reach maturity sustainable in the evening get by eating a mix of straw some...