Evaluating Substitution of Alfalfa Hay for Concentrate Feeds on Nutrient Intake and Growth Performance of Crossbred Dairy Heifers


  • Alemayehu Arega Adami Tulu Agricultural Research Center/ Oromia Agricultural Research Institute
  • Girma Chalchissa Adami Tulu Agricultural Research Center/ Oromia Agricultural Research Institute
  • Ulfina Galmesa Holeta Agricultural Research Center/ Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute


concentrates, alfalfa hay, substitution levels, intake, growth, crossbred cattle


An experiment was conducted to evaluate different substitution levels of alfalfa hay for protein concentrates on growth performance, and feed intake of crossbred heifers. Twenty-four crossbred dairy heifers at the age of six months, with an average body weight of 111.1 ± 1.5 kg (mean ± SE) were selected and randomly assigned to four different feeds in a Randomized Complete Block Design for a period of 90 days, six calves per treatment. Maize Stover fed to all experimental animals adlibtum, at 20% refusal, as a basal diet supplemented with 69% wheat bran (WB), 30% noug seed cake (NSC) and 1% salt (T1) or substituting 50% NSC with alfalfa hay (ALH) (T2), or 75% NSC with ALH (T3), or 100% NSC with ALH (T4). Diets were formulated for similar crude protein and calories. Feed intake and body weight were measured and recorded daily and every 15 days, respectively. Results of the experiment indicated that the dry matter intake of maize Stover was significantly improved by complete substitution of alfalfa hay by noug seed cake. There was no significant difference in total dry matter intake (P > 0.05) in heifers supplemented with concentrate feeds and different levels of alfalfa hay. There is also no significant difference in daily body weight gain; final body weight and feed conversion efficiency (FCE) in heifers fed different levels of concentrate and alfalfa hay. In conclusion substitution of concentrate feed with different levels alfalfa hay resulted in similar body weight gain, and dry matter intake of crossbred calves. Similarly based on partial budget analysis, complete substitution of NSC with alfalfa hay showed reduction of feed cost and increase of net return.