Can Cows Eat Alfalfa Hay? Nutrients, Facts and More

Cows eating and looking at the camera

It is commonly believed that alfalfa is an excellent source of nutrition for cows. It may even offer more nutrition than a cow requires. Because of this, cattle raised for meat or milk have the choice of either harvesting the grass as feed or grazing on it instead.

Alfalfa has a protein content that is around 20%, which is much greater than the majority of other foods. Because grass hays often contain a relatively modest amount of protein, alfalfa is a good supplementary choice that may significantly boost the amount of protein that a cow consumes. Traditional grass hay also requires more time to digest compared to alfalfa.

When fed alfalfa, cows have a greater propensity to consume more food overall. This may result in cows that are larger and produce more milk as a result. These animals have a tendency to be in better condition overall, with a reduced mortality rate, since a cow that is well-fed is also a cow that is healthier.

Feeding Alfalfa to Beef Cows

Combining grass hay with alfalfa hay from David Woods Hay Service may result in the production of superior meat cows. If the majority of the grass hay that your beef cows consume is of poor grade, alfalfa may be fed to the cows as a supplement to boost their total nutritional intake.

In many cases, a very minimal quantity of alfalfa is required to compensate for the nutritional deficiencies that poor-quality grass might sometimes cause. Therefore, including some alfalfa in the diet of your animals together with mature or weather-damaged hay is a sound and cost-effective plan.

Since alfalfa is rapidly digested, its ingestion may lead to an increase in the cow’s appetite. Because of this, you may anticipate that these cows will put on more weight, which will result in an increased quantity of meat.

Alfalfa for Grazing

It is possible to utilize alfalfa for grazing reasons, in addition to the fact that many individuals wish to have complete control over the quantity of alfalfa that their cows ingest. Even in very hot and dry circumstances, there is a greater chance that cows will gain weight if they graze on alfalfa.

Because you would like the alfalfa to reach the appropriate level of maturity before letting the cow consume it, rotational feeding is the most effective method for feeding alfalfa. It should not be too long until the grass begins to blossom. In the event that it becomes too ripe before the cows have had a chance to consume all of it, they may be relocated to a younger patch, and the excess can be chopped for consumption at a later time.

Nevertheless, since alfalfa has a tendency to produce pasture bloat in beef cattle, the use of alfalfa for beef cattle that are pastured has been restricted. Ruminants possess a remarkable ability that distinguishes them from all other meat-producing animals: they are able to quickly digest the components of cell walls found in forages. As a result of this skill, ruminants have a competitive advantage over other types of animals that produce meat. Therefore, if a ruminant production system is to have any hope of being sustainable in the future, forages will need to play a significant role.

Alfalfa for Calves

Calves, who have a greater need for protein than adult cattle, benefit tremendously from the addition of alfalfa hay to their diets. However, it is ideal to combine alfalfa with another kind of feed, such as clover since this will provide the calves with all of the nutrients as well as calories that they need in order to develop normally.

It is not necessary to replant alfalfa very often since it has a long shelf life and can sustain calves for a considerable amount of time. The consumption of alfalfa often results in outstanding gains for calves. Additionally, it results in animals that are healthier overall since calves who are cared for properly have a lower risk of being ill in the first place.

Is Alfalfa Hay Good for Cows?

Many farmers feed alfalfa to their cows because they know it provides them with healthy nutrition. The nutritional value of alfalfa is among the greatest of all forages. It is known as a good source of protein; yet its value as an energy source is often overlooked. The majority of minerals and vitamins may be obtained from alfalfa at a lower cost than they would be if they were obtained from other processed sources.

For more information on alfalfa hay and cows ability to eat it, contact us at David Woods Hay Service to learn more.