How to Tell the Quality of Alfalfa Hay

There are several factors to consider when evaluating alfalfa hay. These include: Leafiness, Foreign matter, and Dry matter content. Additionally, check for leaf detachment upon touch. All these factors are related to alfalfa’s quality.

Dry matter content

Alfalfa hay and silage vary greatly in their water content. Alfalfa hay can contain up to 65% moisture while silage can be as low as 12%. Although moisture content is a small component of the overall feed, it does affect the concentration of nutrients. When evaluating the dry matter content of feed, make sure to calculate the percentage of water.

When the dry matter content is known, nutritional comparisons between feeds can be conducted. The amount of protein per unit of dry matter can be compared to that of other feeds. A sample of alfalfa hay can be compared to a sample of pasture, which can have a slightly higher dry matter percentage.

While the two hays vary in their moisture content, both contain high amounts of protein and fat. During late gestation, alfalfa hay has the highest TDN value of any forage. Corn silage, on the other hand, is 33% dry matter and 67% water. On a dry matter basis, corn silage is valued at $55 per ton.

Alfalfa hay contains 88% dry matter. It also contains fiber. This hay also contains chlorophyll and carotenoids. In addition, it is rich in calcium and vitamin B group vitamins. Furthermore, it is rich in vitamin E and vitamin K. In addition, it contains high amounts of cation exchange capacity.


Leafiness of alfalfa Hay can be measured by inspecting a sample of the hay. It should be free of any weeds or foreign objects. It is also important to determine if it contains any plant species that can be harmful to horses. Leafiness of alfalfa hay is an important factor when determining how much of this hay to feed your horses.

The higher the leafiness, the better the hay for your animals. Leafiness is a proportion of leaves to stems. Generally, hay that is higher in leafiness will have more protein than hay with a low leaf to stem ratio. Leafiness of alfalfa hay varies depending on its maturity stage. Early bloom stage hay has fewer purple flower petals and is less leafy than other stages. Leafiness is especially important for grasses and legumes, because when they are too dry, the leaves splinter.

If you want to produce high-quality alfalfa hay, you need to be focused on growing a high-leaf crop. If you don’t get enough leaves, you’ll end up with a lower yield and lower forage quality. In order to get more leaves, you can try a new method called Leaf Analysis. It can help you manage alfalfa growth, as well as improve harvesting efficiency.

Leafiness of alfalfa Hay is important because it relates to its digestibility. The higher leaf-to-stem ratio, the higher the quality of alfalfa hay. It also means the amount of plant fiber and nutrients that are present in the forage. Leaves are also more digestible than stems and contribute to a greater proportion of the overall feed quality.

Foreign matter

The presence of foreign matter in alfalfa hay can be a sign of poor quality. It is important to check the color and odor of the hay, and also look at its texture and leafiness. It should be free from weeds and foreign matter. It should also be free of visible mold.

If there is an abnormal amount of foreign matter, it is important to get rid of it. This may involve using a standardized method of analysis. This will not only allow for more accurate pricing but will also provide a better estimate of the hay’s value as a feed.

It is important to note that the moisture content of bales varies. Freshly harvested hay tends to be lower in moisture than stored hay. However, moisture content can increase or decrease in hay during storage. In the U.S., alfalfa hay must be tested and reported on a dry matter basis. This puts all hay on a common basis for comparing feed values.

Alfalfa hay is a good source of fiber and protein. Harvesting at the proper time increases its nutritional value. For example, alfalfa is best harvested when it is 10 percent bloom. Most grasses should be harvested at the point when seed heads are developing on the stalks. Hay that is harvested too late will have fewer leaves and a stemmy appearance.

Leaf detachment at touch

The detachment of leaves is one way to determine the quality of alfalfa despite the crop’s age. A quality hay contains at least 50% leaves. Leaf loss is a significant concern for alfalfa producers and lowers the value of a ton. Just a one percent leaf loss can reduce the value of a ton by $7. Leaf loss is caused by multiple factors, including a reduction in yield and quality.

Approximately three-fourths of the protein in alfalfa is found in the leaves. For this reason, it is important to develop a practical curing strategy focusing on leaf preservation. In addition to maintaining the leaf structure, curing should also reduce the amount of leaf shattering, which can lower the quality and yield.

Leaf detachment at touch is one way to tell the quality of alfalfa. In addition to leaf detachment at touch, you can also look for the presence of purple flower petals on the stem. A crop with few flower petals is the best, but as the blossoms increase, the quality decreases. Eventually, the hay will be less leafy, steamier, and woodier, resulting in a less quality product.

Leaf detachment at touch is a great way to tell whether hay has a high nutritive value. Leaves that detach at touch will be less nutritive than those that remain attached.

Leaf size

The size of the leaf on alfalfa hay can tell you a lot about the quality of the product. The wider the windrow, the less leaf loss there will be, and the hay will be more nutritious. Moreover, the width of the windrow will influence the amount of moisture in the bale at the time of baling.

The percentage of leaf area in alfalfa hay can be measured with the LEAF equation. This method can predict the percentage of leaves in alfalfa based on the NDF, protein, and NDFD28 content. The LEAF equation was found to explain 84% of variation in leaf percentage in alfalfa samples. The range of measured and predicted leaf percentages was 35% to 70%, and the average was 52%.

The LEAF test is not validated for alfalfa-grass mixes. It has only been validated for pure alfalfa stands. This means that the accuracy of percent leaf predictions may vary between different laboratories. This is because the nutrient inputs are measured by different methods.

The leaf-to-stem ratio in alfalfa is a crucial factor in determining the quality of forage. The greater the leaf-to-stem ratio, the more nutritious the forage. This ratio is related to the maturity of the plant. When alfalfa reaches maturity, the stem tissue becomes lignified.

Leaf color

Leaf color is an indicator of the quality of alfalfa hay. If it is green, then it has a high quality. If it is purple, it is likely to be of lower quality. The number of purple flowers on the stems is also an indicator of the quality of the hay. Generally, alfalfa hay at the Early-Bloom stage has the highest quality. The later the blooming stage, the less leafy and steamy the hay will be.

Leaf percentage explains about 40% of the variance in alfalfa quality. According to David Weakley, emeritus professor of forage science at the University of Wisconsin and former forage scientist at Forage Genetics International, an increase in leaf content increased relative forage quality by 4.6 units for every unit increase. A five-unit increase in leaf percentage would boost the RFQ by 23 points.

Leaf color is also another indicator of hay quality. While hay can have many leaves, some leaves will be completely dry and have little nutritional value. If these leaves are dry, the hay may detach easily during transportation. Leaves that fall off easily can be another signal of poor quality.

The color of the leaf can also tell the quality of alfalfa. When purchasing hay, look for leaves that are small and well-shaped. Make sure the stems and leaves are dry and free of weeds. The hay should not smell or be moldy. It is also important to look for a reputable grower.

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