Document Type


Publication Date



alfalfa quality, field quality, nutrition, quality of forage

Extension Number

ExEx 8135


Plant Science


Knowledge of alfalfa nutritive value is essential for making informed forage management decisions in alfalfa-based livestock production systems. However, most harvest management and storage decisions are made with no chemical composition information because obtaining analytical data is time consuming and expensive. The quality of forage needed for a particular operation is influenced by the intended use of the forage and by the dietary requirements of a given class of livestock. The detergent fiber system of forage analysis (neutral detergent fiber, NDF; and acid detergent fiber, ADF) coupled with a measure of crude protein (CP) provide vital information for balancing rations of lactating dairy cows (Van Soest, 1994; Mertens, 1983). Therefore, knowledge of the preharvest concentration of NDF, ADF, and CP in alfalfa would allow producers to harvest, store, and inventory this feed resource based on its potential value in a ration.


Updated June 2002.