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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Impact of Harvest Timing on Ruminant Preferences for Alfalfa Hay

item Fisher, Dwight
item Mayland, Henry
item Burns, Joseph

Submitted to: Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 18, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Cattle, goats, and sheep were previously shown to prefer fescue hay harvested in the afternoon over fescue hay harvested in the morning of the same 24-h period. This study tested for variation in preference by cattle, goats, and sheep for alfalfa harvested within the same 24-h period. Alfalfa was cut at sundown (PM) and again the next morning at dawn (AM). Three harvests in this manner resulted in 6 hays (Hay 1, 8 July PM; Hay 2, 9 July AM; Hay 3, 14 August PM; Hay 4, 15 August AM; Hay 5, 22 September PM; Hay 6, 23 September AM). The hays were field dried, baled, and sliced into 100-mm sections prior to feeding. In random order, each possible pair of hays (15 pairs) was presented to sheep and goats for approximately 2.5 h and to cattle for approximately 0.5 h. Analysis by multidimensional scaling indicated that animals were basing selection on two criteria. Preference for PM hays was greater than for AM hays (p<0.01). Shifting the mowing of alfalfa hay from morning to late afternoon increased preference in three ruminant species.

Last Modified: 5/5/2015
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