Fourth of July weekend, we were riding about the farm and I asked Dad to see the alfalfa field. We turned a corner and past two large cedar trees, there opened up a great hidden hill covered in these soft little green plants with purple stocks.
In order to offer our Angus cattle a high protein and nutritionally dense ration, we’ve often turned to Alfalfa to be a main staple of their dinner plate. In years past, we’ve bought Alfalfa from Illinois and trucked it in. Two years ago, our local seed distributor encouraged us to try a new variety of Alfalfa called Alfagraze.
We tried it out last year and were very happy with our results. Alfalfa is totally different than grasses we normally bale. It has a very interesting look. It is actually a little bush with leaves on it instead of a blade of grass with a seed head. When it blooms purple, its time to harvest. Alfalfa is cut and allowed to dry but must be baled while its damp or else the leaves fall off. We have baled it at night or late evening just after the dew has fallen. Getting the “cure” correct on the Alfafa determines your protein content. It normally is baled into square bales but we didn’t have a square baler. We used our round baler and it has worked just fine. So, if you are looking for an alternative staple, you might consider this for your own farm.
We are hoping to get four cuttings this year. If you had adequate water, you could cut alfalfa once a month or every twenty eight days. Dad was able to revive an old sprayer and has begun to water this field. Hopefully, it will have a better yield after it receives sufficient water. We collected samples and sent them to Midwest Labs for testing and found our protein content to be around 18%-19%. We were pleased with this as normal national averages for midwestern Alfalfa growers is no more than 25%. It sure beats the pants off of our regular hay which averages about 8%. Even though Alfalfa is a high protein food source, take caution as too much can give your stock scours.
The Alfagraze that we planted will be perennial for about five years. After that time period, your stand of forage will begin to diminish until about the five year mark when it will need to be replanted. To keep your field in full standing, plan to replant about every five years.