4 Things You Should Know About Alfalfa Hay

alfalfa hay pile

Whether you’re new to farming, or if you’re experienced with raising plants and livestock, odds are good that you’ve heard of alfalfa hay. Here’s everything you should know about this nutritious yet surprisingly affordable food source for your animals, courtesy of David Woods Hay Service.

How long does alfalfa hay last?

Alfalfa hay can last up to several years, but it will start to lose its nutritional value after several months. Fortunately, hay that is properly stored can last almost indefinitely without any real loss of nutrition. The best way to store this type of hay is in a barn, where it can last for years. Without a barn available, covering it with a tarp will give it enough protection that it can last for several months in the right weather conditions.

How much protein does alfalfa hay have?

There are different types of alfalfa hay, and each one will have a different amount of protein. Green. leafy hay, otherwise known as dairy hay, is the most protein rich, with protein levels of around 25%. Type 2 hay, also known as second quality or dry cow hay has protein levels around 10 to 22 percent.

Because of the exceptionally high levels of Type 1 hay, it’s generally not recommended for animals other than cows who are producing milk. While it’s just a myth that Type 1 hay is “too rich”, there’s generally no need to pay a premium for this high protein type of hay for animals other than dairy cows.

Remember that protein levels will drop as hay is exposed to sunlight and rain. These weather conditions will gradually break down the proteins in the hay over time, causing it to become less nutritious. This is why proper storage of hay is so important, particularly for farmers and ranchers who buy hay in bulk.

What does alfalfa hay look like?

The two types of alfalfa hay will look different from each other, but rest assured they are both alfalfas. Type 1 hay is characterized by bright green leaves and sprouts. It’s a “fresh” hay that will look very different from Type 2 alfalfa hay.

Type 2 tends to look more like dry straw than fresh alfalfa. This hay can appear to be striped when it is baled, with colors alternating between light brown and light green. Type 2 hay will smell clean, but it is common to see a small amount of mold or other growth. This typically occurs when the hay is left out in the rain. This mold will not have an adverse effect on the livestock it is fed to, and most animals will not notice.

What farm animals eat hay?

Type 1 alfalfa hay is generally consumed only by dairy cows who are currently producing milk. This hay provides them with the protein they need to produce high-quality milk. This type of hay is also fed to goats and other milk-producing animals, but in much smaller amounts.

Type 2 alfalfa hay is considered suitable for just about every grass-eating animal on a farm, but it is most commonly used with horses and beef cattle. The hay is considered to be an excellent way to increase weight on beef cattle and other livestock such as goats and sheep.

If you’re looking for new ways to increase the health of your livestock, it’s time to start seriously looking at what alfalfa hay can offer. This nutritious food is surprisingly affordable and ready to be delivered today. Contact us at David Woods Hay Service today.