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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Improving Alfalfa Fiber Digestibility

Authors
item Jung, Hans Joachim
item Linn, James - UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
item Lamb, Joann
item Samac, Deborah
item Somers, David - UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Submitted to: Nutrition and Management Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 11, 2001
Publication Date: July 20, 2001
Citation: JUNG, H.G., LINN, J.G., LAMB, J.F., SAMAC, D.A., SOMERS, D.A. IMPROVING ALFALFA FIBER DIGESTIBILITY. FOUR-STATE APPLIED NUTRITION AND MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS. 2001. P. 127-137.

Technical Abstract: It is apparent that rising fiber (cell wall) concentration and declining digestibility of stems as alfalfa matures accounts for the limited digestible energy available from alfalfa. The changes in fiber concentration and digestibility can be explained by the proliferation of lignified xylem tissue in the stem, thereby identifying this tissue as an appropriate target for modification to improve the quality of alfalfa. Genetic variation exists in alfalfa for cell wall concentration, composition, and digestibility. Breeding for improved alfalfa fiber digestibility should be successful if heritability of the trait is adequate. Biotechnology is another tool available for genetic modification and offers promise for altering cell walls of alfalfa, but success awaits a better understanding of how to manipulate important quality traits to achieve the desired outcomes. Fine grinding may offer an opportunity to increase the digestibility of alfalfa stems by providing rumen microbes access to potentially digestible cell wall carbohydrates that currently are lost in the feces.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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