Berkeley International is a specialist in sourcing products worldwide.
Our specialists for Alfalfa   
  • John Eyton
  • Suzanne Eyton
Alfalfa is grown in many regions of the world. We have DIRECT connections with producers in Argentina, Australia, Spain and USA

The information below shows the development of alfalfa, some of the uses and benefits

Alfalfa, whose scientific name is Medicago sativa, is a plant used as fodder which belongs to the legume family. It has a lifespan of five to twelve years depending on the variety used. It reaches a height of 1 meter and develops dense clusters of small purple flowers. The roots are usually very deep and can measure up to 4.5 meters. Thus, the plant is particularly resistant to drought.

Alfalfa comes from Iran, where it was probably adopted for use by humans during the Bronze Age to feed horses from Central Asia. According to Pliny the Elder, it was introduced in Greece around 490 BC, during the First Persian War, possibly in the form of seeds arrived along with fodder for the Persian cavalry. It became a common crop for food for horses. Humans can eat the sprouts in salads and sandwiches. It reached the United States via Chile in around 1860.
Like all legumes, the roots have nodules containing bacteria Sinorhizobium meliloti, with the ability to fix nitrogen, producing high-protein feed regardless of available nitrogen in the soil. Its ability to fix nitrogen (increasing N in the soil) and its use as animal feed improves the efficiency of agriculture.
Considered the queen of legumes, it requires high temperatures and dry weather in summer, with Spain and Argentina being two of the world's best places for production

Alfalfa is the forage plant par excellence. As a source of animal feed, it has excellent nutritional properties, among which we should highlight the following:

High in protein. Alfalfa, unlike meat meals, provides a large amount of vegetable protein, something that will lead to the health of animals and people. Alfalfa is considered to be the great green alternative for animal feed.
High in other nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, boron, sulfur, molybdenum, magnesium....

Rich in fiber: The intake of fiber in animal feed depends on the particle size of the product supplied.

The fiber components are fermentable by the rumen microbial flora and large intestine of ruminant animals. This causes their digestibility to be generally high.

Why choose alfalfa?

For its active ingredients:

High dry matter UFL yield.

Alfalfa has an excellent mineral content and the highest concentration occurs when alfalfa is between bud and 10% bloom. It is important in providing calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron and sulfur.

Large amount of amino acids.

Beta-carotene and vitamins C, D, E and K.

High digestibility of neutral detergent fiber (NDF): lactating dairy cows will eat more dry matter and will produce more milk when fed forages with high NDF digestibility.

The addition of bulky foods in the diet of ruminants is essential to stimulate rumen function and to keep them healthy.
On the other hand, pellets have the advantage of being ready for use as an ingredient in the preparation of rations or feed, eg: rabbits, sheep, goats, pigs and deer, hens, chickens and other birds. In addition, as a finely ground product, it promotes the cattle eat feed in full.

The cubes are ideal for extensive cattle. Its high degree of compaction allows it to be spread on the ground, without notable losses in the amount of product available. The fiber size is appropriate to add volume to the feed. Intended for horses, bulls, ostriches, among others, it is also of use in extensive cattle ranches or hunting areas.

 

Animal health and human health

The fodder transformation and production industry brings a portion of the vegetable protein which is later consumed as meat by citizens. Following the BSE crisis (mad cow disease), and the subsequent decision to ban animal meal in the manufacture of feed for all ruminants, the importance of vegetable protein in animal feed has been clearly shown.

Replacing meat meal with vegetable protein results in an increased volume of vegetable raw materials. The health of animals and people will be very grateful for this. Among these plant materials, needless to say, alfalfa is the queen

 

Dehydrated alfalfa

Dehydration of alfalfa, compared with natural drying (hay), reduces the loss of nutritional value (leaves, protein, vitamins) and the risks of contamination from soil, while avoiding moisture from rain or dew that would increase microbial pollution.

Alfalfa contains about 50% of cell wall and a balanced fiber composition (8% pectin, 10% hemicellulose, 25% cellulose and 7% lignin). Therefore, it ensures rapid digestive transit, a significant amount of soluble fiber and a high tampon effect. This, along with its high palatability, makes alfalfa a choice ingredient in feed for high production cows.

 

Crude Protein (CP)

The content of Crude Protein (CP) largely determines its market value. The earlier it is collected, the lower the production of Dry Matter (DM) per hectare. On the other hand, the higher the nutritive quality as the proportion of leaves over stems increases.

It is estimated that CP is a good indicator of its energy value, so that an increase of one percentage unit of CP over dry matter represents an increase of 0.03 UFL (Net Energy for Lactation).

Alfalfa is a good source of macro-minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, chlorine), trace elements (zinc, copper, iron), vitamins (fat soluble, group B) and pigments.
Phosphorus, found in alfalfa, is highly available to monogastric animals, hence its importance in the diet. However, depending on the degree of contamination present in alfalfa, the iron content will vary.

Potassium, another very important element in feeding livestock, has a direct relationship with the fertilization level of the soil. Thus, if the crop has no shortage of nutrients, we will have a high quality forage for livestock, bringing all the necessary nutrients, especially potassium.

Another important nutrient for livestock are xanthophylls. This carotene varies its content depending on the degree of drying. Depending on the degree of drying that the raw material is subjected to, xanthophylls will show varying degrees of efficacy. Thus, the carotenoids of alfalfa show an efficacy of around 35-75% over the efficacy of carotenoids of corn.

 

Alfalfa is grown in many parts of the world
One of our preferred suppliers is in Spain and they offer different grades and types - which are shown below
c9

Cosechadora en un campo de alfalfa

Bales are manufactured with a weight of 350, 700 Kg. (approx.), both long fiber (> 10 cm) and short fiber (6 cm), the latter being suitable for unifeed mixer wagons. In Argentina you can find simple compression and double compression bales of sun-dried alfalfa.

Bales are mainly recommended for dairy cattle, since extra long fiber facilitates rumination and therefore, digestion.

  • Great nutritional value.

  • It retains all the properties of alfalfa hay. Very appetizing and digestible for animals.

  • Good value for money.

  • Optimal use of transport, due to its perfect parallelepiped shape, high density and compaction, which results in cost reduction.

  • By-pass protein.

  • Tampon effect.

  • Volume feed.

Alfalfa hay
 This is the name for alfalfa hay dried naturally in the fields. Haymaking consists of drying the forage by the action of the sun's heat, once it has been mowed. It is a natural drying, as the light energy of the sun is used.

Its analytical composition is equivalent to that of dehydrated alfalfa, provided the vegetative state of the plant at the time of cutting is the same.

Alfalfa, especially alfalfa hay, requires a routine quality control, since its nutritional value varies depending on the quality of the initial feedstock, the conditions of the preservation, collection and storage process (fermentation, bacterial and fungal contamination). The concentrations of beta-carotene and xanthophylls can be used as an indication of the quality of the process used to obtain and preserve the product.

Dehydration, as a method of fodder preservation, causes almost no changes to its nutritional value. Yes, there is a slight, although minimal, decrease in digestibility of organic matter (OM), but no alteration occurs in the energy value. One detail which does alter both the digestibility and animalís intake, is the presentation of the dried fodder, remember that this may be: bales, cubes or pellets. Depending on how food is supplied to the cattle, it will have an effect on the feeding process, because of the effect of particle size variations on these parameters.

 
 
ALFALFA Granules or pellets
Muestra de pellets de alfalfa

Granules or pellets are 6 or 8 mm in diameter. Dehydrated alfalfa granules are ideal for sheep, pigs, goats, ostriches, rabbits...

It is also frequently used as part of compound feed for poultry

  • A wide range of possibilities in terms of protein content.

  • Reduced transport costs due to constitution water loss and increased concentration under pressure.

  • Improved accessibility to feed by animals.
    Prevents acidosis.

  • Prevents acidosis

  • Enables the distribution of a protein food as a concentrate.

  • Food rich in β-carotene and provitamin A.

  • High in calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Available in bulk, big bags (+/- 1,000 Kg) and sacks (+/- 25 Kg)

   

PRODUCT

PROTEIN DM

Moisture

ADF

NDF

RFV

Premium quality dehydrated alfalfa hay bales

Min. 20%

Max. 12%

Max. 29%

Max. 36%

170 - 185

Extra quality dehydrated  alfalfa hay bales

Min. 18%

Max. 12%

Max. 32%

Max. 40%

150 - 170

Standard quality alfalfa hay bales

Min. 16%

Max. 12%

Max. 35%

Max. 44%

130 - 150

1st quality dehydrated alfalfa pellets

Min. 16%

Max. 12%

Max. 30%

Max. 45%

130 - 150

2nd quality dehydrated alfalfa pellets

Min. 14%

Max. 12%

Max. 33%

Max. 52%

110 - 130

Dehydrated fescue / ryegrass hay bales

Min. 12%

Max. 12%

Max. 32%

Max. 50%

110 - 130

Cereal (wheat & barley) straw bales

Min. 3%

Max. 12%

Max. 50%

Max. 75%

50 - 70

Maize & cereal (wheat & barley) straw pellets

Min. 5%

Max. 12%

Max. 40%

Max. 70%

60 - 80

 

 

   
   
Fescue and Rye-grass
Muestra de Festuca y Rye Grass

A forage herbaceous plant (belonging to the grass family) rich in energy and suitable for maintenance rations. Ideal for a diet that requires energy.

Richer in energy for the same vegetative state than legumes, since they have fewer woody stems and are poorer in soluble carbohydrates.

Lower protein content: protoplasmic components are poorer in nitrogen than legumes.

Leaves / stems rate higher in rye grass than in legumes. An ideal product for a diet in which energy is required, suitable for maintenance rations.

 

 
Alfalfa cubes or pellets  
Alfalfa cubes

During the cube manufacturing process, alfalfa is chopped before dehydration. Thus, a product with a fiber length of 3 centimeters is obtained.

 


This product is recommended primarily for feeding horses and bulls. Unlike other formats, it is particularly suitable for extensive livestock, since losses are avoided when dosed directly in the field.

Minimum fiber length required for rumination.

It does not give off any dusty particles since cubes are well compacted.

Available in bulk, big bags (+/- 1,000 Kg) and sacks (+/- 25 Kg)

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Muestra de pellets de alfalfa Muestra de pellets de alfalfa
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Alfalfa cubes  

Alfalfa cubes