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© 1997, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide discusses the feeding value of alfalfa under different harvesting, storage and feeding methods, as compared to other protein sources.

In Nebraska, alfalfa is used primarily as a protein source. However, for cow-calf producers it can sometimes be an economical energy source, depending on the prevailing price of feed grains and other sources of energy.

Alfalfa is generally harvested as dry hay or as silage (65 percent moisture). Ensiling at 45 to 55 percent moisture is also common, particularly if the alfalfa is stored in an upright oxygen-limiting structure. Regardless of harvesting and storage methods, some dry matter and nutrient losses occur during the harvesting, storing and feeding processes. These losses must be considered when deciding which methods are best to use.