Evaluating nutritive value of low-lignin alfalfa at multiple physiological stages

In Canada, alfalfa is a widely cultivated legume forage and the principal source of protein in the diets of ruminant animals. High quality alfalfa (i.e. nutrient composition and fiber digestibility) is vital for profitable dairy production because it can reduce requirements of high-cost concentrated feeds. High fiber digestibility is associated with higher cow’s intake and milk production. Low-lignin alfalfa has recently been developed through technological progress. These new cultivars have lower lignin concentrations and/or higher fiber digestibility compared to standard cultivars and may be harvested at a later stage of development resulting in higher forage yields. There is, however, limited data about low-lignin alfalfa pertaining to our local agro-climatic conditions. Most importantly, the optimal maturity stage at which alfalfa should be harvested for highest yield and nutritive value is still not clear. The objective of this study is to evaluate low-lignin alfalfa at multiple points from vegetative to late flowering stage in order to determine which optimal stage of alfalfa maturity corresponds to highest yield, quality (i.e. nutritive values and fiber digestibility) and estimated milk yield for greater profitability to producers.

Faculty Supervisor:

Arif Mustafa


Andréanne La Salle


Bélisle Solution Nutrition Inc


Animal science




McGill University


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