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Alfalfa

Alfalfa Medicago sp. also called lucerne, is a pea family plant. It popular with farmers in most countries due to high yield and high quality of feed. The word „alfalfa” comes from Arabic and means „the best hay”. Nowadays alfalfa is often called the queen of feed plants.

Alfalfa is excellent plant for hay, silage, containing rather high protein content and is well digestable. Other advantages are high carotine, E vitamine and mineral content. Alfalfa can be given to almost all domestic animal species.

Why dry in a dryer not on the field?

This alows to obain feed with high content of nutrients - high content of protein, minerals and vitamins, which in terms of nutrients is close to concentrated feed. Beta-carotine content in alfalfa pellets/bales is 3-5 times higher than in silage and hay. It can be easy to transport, store and use.


Efficiency comparison between beta-carotine in alfalfa pellets/bales and synthetic beta-carotine

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* Beta-carotene is a provitamin of vitamin A. Beta-carotene strengthens immunity, provides a healthy mucous membrane and improves the reproductive system of animals. Cows accelerate uterine involution postpartum ovulation, reduce early embryonic death and the formation of cysts in the ovaries. The optimum amount of beta carotene ration increased milk yield, for example by providing dairy cows with 300 mg of beta-carotene daily milk yield increased by 6.4%. Beta carotene feeding promotes lower somatic cell count in milk, improves udder health. Beta-carotene promotes rumen activity, increasing amounts of cellulose digestion in the rumen.

 Protein and nutrients remaining after different treatments

 

Protein

All nutrients

Rumen non-degradable protein

Dehydrated alfalfa pellets/bales

95%

92%

40%

Alfalfa dried on the field

50-80%

50-70%

20%

Silage

75-85%

70%

15%


Dairy cow nutrition, special attention is drawn to the rumen non-degradable protein in feed doses. This protein fraction soluble in the rumen, it is digested and assimilated in the small intestine and is used for cows physiological functions. Alfalfa pellets contain about 40% of non-degradable protein in the rumen. In other feed materials it is lower than the amount of protein fractions, such as fodder peas 22-23%, wheat flour around 25% of non-degradable protein in the rumen.



Dried alfalfa comparison with straw:

 

Dried alfalfa

Straw

Protein

16-20%

4-9%

Digestible protein

15-19%

3-7.5%

Energy NEL

5,8MJ

3,4 MJ

Vitamins

rich in beta-carotine, biotine, A,B, C, D, E,  K, P, U vitamins

almost no vitamins

Minerals

rich in Ca, Fe, K, Mg, P

low content

Taste

very good

poor



Advantages of dried alfalfa:

  • Promotes salivation, better apetite.
  • Improves productivity.
  • Good digestibility.
  • Improves reproductive functions of animals, animals faster recover after giving birth.
  • Improves health.
  • Rich in vitamins: beta-carotene, biotin, and A, B, C, D, E, K, P, U (because dried in dryer not on field).
  • Rich in minerals: Ca, Fe, K, Mg, P.
  • Has better usability than other protein sources - sunflower or rapeseed meal, cake.
  • Non-GMO.
  • Easily transportable, convenient storage and use.
  • Not dusty.
  • High relation Ca:P, suitable for fodder with grain (low Ca:P relation).
  • Can be used in feed distribution robots.
  • Reduced microorganism contamination.
  • Less losses when compared with hay and silage.
  • Reduced risk of timphany for animals.

 

For ruminants:

  • No acidic rumen environment when compared to grain feed, high buffering capacity.
  • Improves reproductive functions of animals, animals faster recover after giving birth.
  • Increases milk yield.
  • Improves wool quality (sheep, alpaka).
  • Slow protein (70% absorbed within 10-15h).
  • Contains 40% in rumen non-degradable protein.
  • Good source of calcium.
  • Significantly reduces hypocalcaemia risk in postpartum period.
  • Lowers number of somatic cells in milk.

Protein and energy products digestion rate for cows (for alfalfa see Edelgun data)

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For laying hens and broilers:

  • When adding to feed, yolk is dark yellow.
  • Egg shell harder as alfalfa pellets contain much calcium.
  • Reduces cholesterine content in broiler meat.
  • Improves apetite and health.
  • Alfalfa hay in small bales makes hens busy and prevents pecking on other bird skin.

For pigs:

  • Fattening pigs to get leaner meat (reduces the quantity of wheat, replacing it with barley and alfalfa).
  • Reduces feed conversion.
  • More available phosphorus (less phosphor in phytate compounds).
  • Increases the number of born live piglets.
  • Saws have more milk.
  • Improves stomach processes for piglets.

For horses:

  • Ensures healthy skin, slime and hair.
  • Cleans reproductive organs and eyes.
  • Improves fertility due to A, D vitamins and beta carotine.
  • Reduces risk to fall ill with respiratory diseases.

For chinchillas:

  • The fur is more shiny.
  • Increases the number of born live chinchilla babies.

 

The recommended dose of alfalfa pellets for different animals:

  • Dairy cows by 3.5 kg / day;
  • Cows not giving milk by 2 kg/day;
  • Calves 20-25% of feed (TMR);
  • For meat bulls 10-15% of feed;
  • Rabbits, up to 25% in fodder;
  • Sheep, goats, 0.3 to 1.0 kg / day;
  • Dairy sheep by 40% in fodder;
  • Yeanlings by 20% in fodder;
  • Ewes with lambs by 50% in fodder;
  • Lambs for meat 25-40% in feed;
  • Pigs for meat up to 10 % in feed;
  • Weaned piglets up to 3% in feed;
  • Pregnant sows 10-50% in feed, gradually increasing the dosage;
  • Laying hens by 4% in feed, broilers by 10% in feed;
  • Horses 0.5-2.0 kg / day depending on the animals weight and work load, by 17-19% in feed;
  • Foals 170-350kg 0.5kg/day, 500kg hobby horse 1-2kg/day, 500kg race horse 2-3kg/day. Recommend to use wet pellets (pour water over pellets, leave 30min.) and adding to hay;
  • Alpakas 0.3-0.4kg/day;
  • Chinchilas by 25%;
  • Ostriches 3-6 months old 10% in feed (reduce soyabean meal and wheat), in winter period for breeding birds 25-45% in feed (reduce wheat, hay).