Appropriate level of alfalfa hay in diets for rearing Simmental crossbred calves in dryland China

  • Kobayashi, Nobuyuki (The United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences, Tottori University) ;
  • Hou, Fujiang (State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University) ;
  • Tsunekawa, Atsushi (Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University) ;
  • Chen, Xianjiang (State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University) ;
  • Yan, Tianhai (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute) ;
  • Ichinohe, Toshiyoshi (Faculty of Life and Environmental Science, Shimane University)
  • Received : 2018.01.26
  • Accepted : 2018.05.02
  • Published : 2018.12.01


Objective: In dryland areas of China, alfalfa hay (AH) is a possible substitute for concentrate feed for beef cattle. To evaluate the potential benefits of this substitution, we studied the effect of the ratio of AH intake to total dry matter (DM) intake on average daily body-weight gain (ADG), dietary energy utilization status, and economic benefit in Gansu province. Methods: In each of two feeding trials in 2016 (trial 1 [T1], July 3 to 17; trial 2 [T2], August 15 to September 23), crossbred male Simmental calves were allocated to low AH (LA), medium AH (MA), and high AH (HA) feeding groups (n = 4 per group). The target ADG was set as 1 kg for both trials. In a one-way-layout design based on conventional feeding practices in the province, calves received diets containing the different AH amounts, with a constant ratio of corn stover:total DM and decreasing rations of concentrate feed proportional to the increase in AH. Calves in T1 received AH at 15% (T1-LA), 23% (T1-MA), or 31% (T1-HA) of their dietary DM allowances; those in T2 received 9% (T2-LA), 24% (T2-MA), or 34% (T2-HA) AH. Results: Among the T1 groups, both ADG and economic benefit were highest in T1-LA; whereas in T2, they were higher in the T2-LA and T2-MA groups than in T2-HA. Energy digestibility did not significantly differ among the groups in either trial. The dietary AH inclusion ratios of 14% in the warm season and 8% to 21% in the cool season appeared to yield optimal ADG, metabolizable energy intake, and economic benefit. Conclusion: Low-level inclusion of AH, ranging from 8% to 21%, is a practical approach for beef cattle feeding. This modified feeding regimen likely will promote increased growth performance during the fattening stage of beef steers in dryland areas of Gansu province, China.


Alfalfa;Substitution;Feeding Trial;Economic Benefit;Dryland Area in China


Supported by : National Natural Science Foundation of China


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