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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Plant Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #376193

Research Project: Enhanced Alfalfa Germplasm and Genomic Resources for Yield, Quality, and Environmental Protection

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Strategies to enhance energy content in alfalfa foliage

item Samac, Deborah - Debby
item Dornbusch, Melinda - Mindy
item BUCCIARELLI, BRUNA - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/30/2020
Publication Date: 8/15/2020
Citation: Samac, D.A., Dornbusch, M.R., Bucciarelli, B. 2020. Strategies to enhance energy content in alfalfa foliage. Forage Focus. (August 2020):20-21.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Available energy is often the first limiting factor in high forage rations for dairy and beef cattle. Alfalfa is a rich source of protein that is rapidly degraded in the rumen. However, the resulting free amino acids cannot be completely captured if there is insufficient energy from carbohydrate fermentation. Although alfalfa stems contain large amounts of cell-wall carbohydrates (approximately 70% of stem dry weight), the majority of the cell walls are poorly digested because lignin in the cell walls is a barrier to cell wall digestion. Dairy rations often include starch-containing feeds to partially reduce protein wastage from alfalfa but starch fermentation in the rumen can lead to acidosis and other health problems. This articles describes how scientists in the Plant Science Research Unit (PSRU) in St. Paul, Minnesota have explored strategies to increase available energy from alfalfa by increasing fiber digestibility, increasing the amount of pectic polysaccharides, and increasing production of lipids.