Effects of alfalfa maturity on energy utilization by cattle and nutrient digestibility by cattle and sheep.

P. S. Miller, W. N. Garrett, N. Hinman

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3 Scopus citations


Two comparative slaughter experiments conducted with growing beef steers (300 kg to 480 kg BW) fed alfalfa cubes demonstrated that animal performance diminished as alfalfa matured. In each trial, ADG (empty BW basis) was 10 to 20% greater from pre-bloom than from early-bloom alfalfa. Net energy for maintenance (Mcal/kg) followed a pattern similar to that of ADG, but NEg (Mcal/kg) did not decrease (P greater than .05) as alfalfa maturity increased. Digestion trials with steers and wethers clearly indicated significant reductions in apparent digestibilities of DM, energy, and cell wall fractions as alfalfa matured. Steers fed at 110% of maintenance in digestion Trails 1, 2, and 3 consistently digested cubed alfalfa to a greater extent than wethers fed the same alfalfa ground and pelleted. Digestion coefficients (percentages) for ADF, cellulose, NDF, and crude fiber were 5 to 14% greater for steers fed cubes than for wethers fed pellets. Regression equations calculated from results of three digestion trials indicate that digestible DM % and DE (Mcal/kg) could be predicted from ADF %, but they were 4 to 5% lower for wethers fed pelleted alfalfa than for steers fed cubes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2591-2600
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1991


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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