Valuating Nutritive Value of Alfalfa with Meadow Fescue Varieties for Optimal Quality in Dairy Production Systems
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Dairy forage production in New York State is unique because over 85% of alfalfa sown in the state is done in combination with a perennial grass. Introducing a grass species into the alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) stand can increase the neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD), an important forage quality to support high milk production yields. Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis) (MF) has recently been reintroduced into the United States, offering an opportunity for a high-quality grass to be mixed with alfalfa stands intended for dairy cow forage. The objective of this study was to achieve the highest possible quality for the grass, whilst maintaining a 20-30% grass mixture. Nineteen meadow fescue varieties, almost all developed in Europe, were sown in pure stands and evaluated for forage quality and the rate of change in quality during spring growth. Meadow fescue varieties also were sown with alfalfa on a range of dairy farms throughout New York State to evaluate their compatibility with alfalfa and to assess differences in nutritive value among varieties in the various regions.
Presented at 2020 Virtual Cornell Nutrition Conference
Department of Animal Science
Meadow fescue; Dairy forage; Alfalfa
conference papers and proceedings