More dairy producers are getting away from alfalfa

A farmer and dairy forage consultant says more dairy farmers are choosing to grow less alfalfa.

Daniel Olson with Forage Innovations says, “From a feeding standpoint, a lot of my progressive type dairies are moving away from it pretty aggressively.”

Olson farms in northeastern Wisconsin and is a consultant for other dairies across the country.  He tells Brownfield with two to four bad winters in a row for alfalfa, producers are trying other forage crops and mixtures including clovers. “One of the reasons a lot of progressive dairy farmers are coming back to clover is just the quality of the protein is better, it’s less soluble so it’s more like a bypass type protein, and the fiber digestibility is definitely better than alfalfa as well.”

And, with the clover and grasses mixed, Olson says the blend tends to thrive in conditions that are tough on alfalfa.  He says last week’s first crop cutting had solid numbers. “We’re running two-plus tons of dry matter pretty consistently. That’s an extremely good yield for a first cutting. I think it ran like a 194 RFQ, so very high quality.”

Olson says his “grassworks” mixture was developed years ago for heavier, wetter soils that might have drainage challenges, which can lead to alfalfa root diseases and more winterkill problems.

  • What seed is in the mix ????

    • Daniel Olson has several different mixtures that he works with including cool and warm-season grasses, clovers, etc. The one we focused on here was his “grassworks” mix. I don’t know the ratios, but he says it includes meadow fescue, festulolium, perennial ryegrass, ladino clover, and red clover. You might want to follow Daniel on Facebook here:

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