Alfalfa Pellets - Frequently Asked Questions

 
 
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 Alfalfa pellets can provide a convenient feeding option for smaller operations.

What is the average nutrient content of pellets?

Typical Nutrient Values of Canadian Processed Alfalfa Products

Nutrient
Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets
Suncured Alfalfa Pellets
Crude Protein %
18.9
17.0
Total Dig. Nutrients %
63.0
61.5
Crude Fibre
25
28
Acid Det. Fibre
34
35
Calcium
1.5
1.5
Phosphorus
0.18
0.18
Potassium
2.39
2.35
Copper mg/kg
5
5
Manganese mg/kg
34
34
Zinc mg/kg
21
21
Magnesium %
0.32
0.32
Selenium mg/kg
.03
.03
*Source: Canadian Dehy

How does this compare to other common feeds in Alberta?

Table 1. Average Energy and Protein Values of Some Alberta Feeds (Dry Basis)

Feedstuff
TDN (%)
Crude
Protein
(%)*
GRAINS
Corn
88.18
10.0
Barley
83.17
12.3
Oats
76.16
11.6
Wheat
88.86
15.8
HAY
Alfalfa
61
17.7
Alfalfa-grass
59
14.5
Native
48.60
9.0
Brome
57
9.9
GREENFEED
Barley
58.0
10.0
Oats
57.62
9.4
SILAGE
Barley
60.13
10.9
Oats
57.62
10.0
STRAW
Peas
44.0
6.5
Barley
45.09
4.7
Oats
47.0
4.5
Wheat
41.09
3.9
* Since protein is listed in percentage, 1 lb of alfalfa hay will contain 0.177 lb of protein 1 kg of alfalfa hay will contain 0.177 kg protein.

Energy content should be used when comparing feeding values, and cost effectiveness.

What are some advantages of feeding pellets?
  • Convenience for smaller operations
  • Rate of protein and energy digestion in pelleted alfalfa is faster than in cut alfalfa, the increase in bypass protein does not inhibit rumen microflora
  • Consumed faster than cut hay, resulting in greater feed consumption and faster gains
  • Source of both energy and protein
  • Can utilize low quality forages to improve overall forage digestibility and quality
  • High amounts of bypass protein, improving digestibility
  • Intake control
  • Storage requirements reduced
  • Less waste
What are some disadvantages of feeding pellets?
  • Pellets contain approximately 80% of the energy of rolled barley grain.
  • Digestive upsets and even deaths may result if finely processed feeds are not supplemented with effective fibre (the more finely a pellet has been processed, the less roughage it contains).
  • Pellets can complete the ration but should not be used as sole source of feed because of bloat is a concerns.
When buying pellets, what should be considered prior to purchase?
  • When buying feed, compare available feeds on the basis of energy and protein content to determine nutritional value relative to price.
  • Basic rules for feeding pellets are the same as for feeding grain.
  • Get a guaranteed feed analysis including TDN or DE.
Valuing Energy and Protein in Your Livestock Feeds - FAQ
Nutrients for Cattle

Maintained by staff at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

 
 
 
 
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For more information about the content of this document, contact the Ag-Info Centre.
This information published to the web on December 16, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on September 28, 2016.