All About Alfalfa

All About Alfalfa

Also known as “lucerne,” alfalfa is a perennial flowering legume related to the bean family. The earliest recorded use of alfalfa is by the Persians almost 3000 years ago to sustain horses over long military campaigns. Today, alfalfa is still recognized as providing the highest feed value of all the common hay crops for horses and livestock alike. Thus, it is called the “Queen of Forage.” The alfalfa plant is quite different from grass. It has small clover-like leaves and grows like a bush to several feet in height.

The alfalfa plant is quite different from grass. It has small clover-like leaves and grows like a bush to several feet in height. Alfalfa can be a rich source of quality protein because of its unique ability to grab nitrogen from the air and convert it into protein with the aid of specialty microbes at its roots. With roots that can grow 20 feet deep, the alfalfa plant is very good at soaking up trace minerals and elements. These minerals are then stored in the leaf of the plant, making it easy to digest by the animal.

Benefits of Alfalfa

Energy For Performance

Alfalfa is an excellent source of high-quality fiber and provides slow release energy that can meet most of the daily requirements of light working animals. This benefit allows nutritionists to reduce the amount of starch from grains in the diet thereby reducing the risk of digestive upsets such as colic. The fermentation in Chaffhaye “predigests” the forage making it much easier for the animal to assimilate the fiber and other nutrients.

Alfalfa Is An Excellent Source of Protein

Alfalfa can be an excellent source of protein. All horses and livestock need protein, but especially those that are growing, lactating or adults in high-performance work. Protein also plays an important function in building muscle tone. Animals that do not receive sufficient levels of protein can experience stunted growth and development.

Low Sugar & Starch Content

Alfalfa is naturally low in sugar and starch. The Chaffhaye process further reduces the sugar content through a fermentation that converts sugars into beneficial lactic acid. The level of simple sugars in Chaffhaye falls to below 5%, less than the sugar level of most growing pasture or so-called “low sugar” commercial feeds. This makes Chaffhaye safe for horses that are laminitic or prone to other metabolic issues.

An Excellent Source of Calcium, Vitamins & Minerals

Alfalfa is a rich source of important vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, and E, thiamin, riboflavin, biotin and folic acid. It is also an excellent source of calcium, which supports growth and development of healthy bones and hooves. Alfalfa has more than twice the calcium of grass and is easily absorbed into the body. If you or your nutritionist are concerned with achieving an optimum calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1, simply add a small amount of oats, which are low calcium and high in phosphorus to round out your animal’s diet.