Alfalfa Hay: The Superfood for Large Livestock

Alfalfa Hay: The Superfood for Large Livestock

Alfalfa hay is a nutrient-rich forage crop that has gained popularity worldwide for its remarkable benefits to large stock animals. As more farmers recognize the advantages of alfalfa hay, the demand for this feed has seen exponential growth domestically and internationally. Although alfalfa can be more pricey than other types of forage, the benefits often outweigh the costs. This article lists some benefits of feeding your livestock this quality hay.

The Benefits of Alfalfa Hay to Large Stock

Nutrient-rich: Alfalfa hay is often considered the “gold standard” among forage crops due to its superior nutritional value. To illustrate its advantages, let’s compare alfalfa hay to other common forage crops such as grass hay, clover hay, and timothy hay.

Protein content: Alfalfa hay has a higher protein content than other forage crops. It typically contains 15-20% crude protein, while grass hays like timothy hay have around 7-12% crude protein, and clover hay contains 14-16%. The high protein content in alfalfa hay makes it an excellent choice for supporting growth, lactation, and muscle development in large stock animals.

High digestibility: Alfalfa hay is highly digestible due to its rich fiber content, making it easier for large stock animals to break down and absorb nutrients effectively. 

Supports milk production: Dairy farmers have discovered that feeding alfalfa hay to their animals improves milk production, quality, and composition. In addition, the high protein content of alfalfa hay helps maintain the milk’s nutritional value and consistency.

Enhances fertility: Alfalfa hay has been known to improve fertility in large stock animals. The optimal blend of vitamins and minerals in alfalfa hay contributes to the overall reproductive health of livestock.

Boosts weight gain: Alfalfa hay has a higher energy content than other forage crops. Its energy density is due to its high levels of digestible fiber and readily available carbohydrates. The high protein and digestible energy content promote weight gain in large stock animals, making it an essential feed for animals raised for meat production.

In conclusion, alfalfa hay stands out as a superfood for large stock animals, offering a myriad of benefits that contribute to their overall health, productivity, and growth. It’s exceptional nutritional profile and energy density make it an ideal choice for supporting livestock at any stage of life. Incorporating alfalfa hay into the diet of large stock animals can yield significant benefits, ensuring the well-being and success of farming operations. As the demand for alfalfa hay continues to rise, farmers worldwide recognize its value as a superior feed option for their livestock.

Barr-Ag can provide you with high-quality alfalfa hay and offer valuable guidance to support your livestock’s well-being. Contact Barr-Ag now and take the first step towards maximizing the health, productivity, and growth of your livestock.

By: Emma Bower, AFIA summer communications intern
Read the full article here

Partnering for Success: How Barr-Ag Supports Global Importers of Hay and Grain

In the dynamic world of hay and grain exports, finding the right partner is crucial for global importers seeking quality products and reliable supply chains. At Barr-Ag, we are a leading hay and grain exporter, established with a strong reputation for excellence and commitment to serving the needs of importers worldwide. In this article, we will explore how Barr-Ag supports global importers, offering exceptional products, tailored solutions, and a collaborative approach that sets us apart in the industry.

Uncompromising Quality: At Barr-Ag, quality is the cornerstone of our operations. Our team of experts work closely with farmers and suppliers to ensure that only the finest hay and grain products meet their stringent quality standards. From the fertile fields of Alberta, Canada, Barr-Ag sources premium crops with exceptional nutritional value, providing global importers with the peace of mind that they are receiving top-quality products.

Customized Solutions: Understanding that each importer has unique requirements, we offer customized solutions tailored to our customer’s specific needs. Whether it’s volume preferences, packaging specifications, or timely delivery schedules, we collaborate closely with our clients to design solutions that meet their individual demands. This flexibility and adaptability empowers importers to optimize their operations and drive their business success.

Transparent and Reliable Supply Chains: At Barr-Ag, we pride ourselves on maintaining transparent and reliable supply chains, ensuring a seamless flow of hay and grain from our farms to our customers. Leveraging our extensive logistics network and strategic partnerships, we carefully manage every stage of the supply chain to minimize transit times, preserve product quality, and meet delivery deadlines. Importers can trust in Barr-Ag’s commitment to efficiency and dependability, knowing that their products will arrive on time and in excellent condition.

Long-Term Partnerships: Barr-Ag believes in building long-term partnerships based on trust, mutual growth, and shared success. Our collaborative approach fosters open communication and a deep understanding of our customer’s evolving needs. By forging enduring relationships, we strive to become a true extension of our customer’s teams, working together to overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and drive sustainable growth in the hay and grain industry.

In conclusion, global importers seeking exceptional hay and grain products can rely on Barr-Ag as their trusted partner. With an unwavering commitment to quality, customized solutions, transparent supply chains, expert guidance, and a collaborative approach, Barr-Ag sets the stage for long-term success for farmers and suppliers. Partnering with Barr-Ag empowers importers to access the finest products, optimize their operations, and navigate the complexities of the industry with confidence.

Timothy Hay

The Benefits of Timothy Hay: A Nutritional Powerhouse for Your Livestock

As a livestock owner or small animal caretaker, you understand the importance of providing the best nutrition for your animals. With numerous hay options available, it’s crucial to find the most nutritionally balanced hay that meets your animals’ dietary needs. Two of the most popular types of hay used for livestock are legumes and grass hay, with alfalfa and timothy hay being the most well-known, respectively. This article will focus on the benefits of timothy hay and why it’s an excellent choice for a variety of animals.

Timothy Hay
Timothy Hay

Timothy hay is a premium feed option due to its specific qualities, making it ideal for many feed programs. This cool-season grass thrives in regions with a cool spring and harsh winters but requires adequate irrigation to avoid drought damage. Most timothy hay production occurs near the base of major mountain ranges, where winds help dry the hay before sun bleach sets in.

As a grass hay, timothy hay is characterized by long, hollow stems that can grow up to 60 inches tall with leaves up to 17 inches long. Its distinctive heads, or inflorescence, are densely packed with spikelets that flower when mature.

Nutritionally, timothy hay contains 7 to 11 percent crude protein and 0.38 to 0.51 percent calcium, with a digestible energy of 0.82 to 0.94 megacalories (Mcal) per pound. Timothy hay is ideal for horses and cattle due to its low protein, high fiber, and high energy content, which make it easily digestible. It can be fed regularly without providing excess calories and protein, making it an excellent choice for less active and stabled horses. For livestock with higher protein requirements, it’s often combined with alfalfa or another legume in a comprehensive feed program.

In addition to horses and cattle, other animals such as goats, camels, and sheep benefit from timothy hay in their diets. It’s also a popular feed option for small animals like rabbits, chinchillas, degus, and gerbils due to its high fiber content, which is essential for their digestive health.

In summary, timothy hay is a nutritious and versatile feed option for a variety of animals. Its low protein and high fiber content make it ideal for regular feeding without overloading on calories or protein. When considering the best hay options for your animals, don’t overlook the nutritional powerhouse that is timothy hay.

Are you looking for high-quality timothy hay for your livestock? Look no further! Our timothy hay is grown and harvested with care to ensure the best nutritional value for your animals. Click here to order your timothy hay today and see the difference it can make in your animals’ health and well-being!

Canadian Alfalfa Hay and Its Many Benefits

Canadian Alfalfa Hay

Over the past four decades, the Canadian Alfalfa processing industry has experienced tremendous growth. Today, it ranks as one of the top five largest exporters of Alfalfa in the world. Alberta-grown Alfalfa hay offers many benefits and advantages when compared to hay grown in other parts of the world. Canadian Alfalfa hay provides farmers with a consistently higher quality product, while also offering a more rapid harvesting time than many other types of hay.

Because of its high protein content, farmers across Canada and the United States use dehydrated Alfalfa hay as food for their livestock. The soil on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is rich in calcium and magnesium, which helps to produce a more robust, nutrient rich hay.

The clean air, long warm days, and cool nights in Canada ensure a vigorous production Canadian Alfalfa Hayduring the shorter growing season. Dry land alfalfa hay may be harvested up to twice per season, while irrigated alfalfa hay can be harvested up to three times each season. Because of it has a deep perennial root system, Alfalfa hay is a high water use forage crop. Although it optimally requires 540 to 680 mm of water per growing season in Alberta, the crop is relatively drought tolerant.

The long Canadian winters allow farmers to grow Alfalfa hay using more natural methods. This significantly reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides, as the cold temperatures effectively discourage pests and most weeds. The shorter growing season allows the land a greater resting period to recuperate. This recovery time helps eliminate the need for artificial fertilizers to coax more production, as is commonly necessary in areas with warmer climates.

This non-GMO crop also offers more stringent quality control guidelines. Instead of being graded by observation and smell the way Timothy hay is, Alfalfa hay is tested and graded by independent labs. Canadian Alfalfa hay promises a more consistent product, year after year.

Barr-Ag is a family-owned operation with a farm-to-farm business model. This allows them the unique ability to maintain much tighter control over the product they export. Barr-Ag’s farms and producers are strategically positioned near the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains where they are fortunate to have clean air, long warm days with cool nights, soil rich in calcium and magnesium and a pristine environment in which to grow their non-GMO alfalfa hay.

Growing 60% of all exported hay ensures that they can set high standards in place at each stage of their product, from planting to packaging. The remaining 40% of their stock is purchased from local growers with the same dedication to quality. Barr-Ag’s quality standards allow them to guarantee mold-free hay with less than 12% moisture content.

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any or our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse corps.

Alberta Alfalfa Hay

Alberta Alfalfa Hay

Medicago sativa is the Latin name for “the Queen of Forages”, alfalfa, the most popular and important forage legume grown in Canada. (Agriculture Canada, 1987) It owes its monarchic nickname to its many virtues and merits. Alberta Alfalfa Hay is considered to be one of the most palatable and nutritious of hays. Rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, alfalfa hay is one of the chief components of dairy cattle feed, as well as serving as an important dietary ration for milking goats, beef cattle, sheep and horses. Aside from the nutritional advantages that it provides for ruminants and a variety of equine species, alfalfa is also an indirect source for honey as bees gather a substantial amount of nectar from alfalfa flowers. (Alfalfa)  This high-yielding cultivar also has a great ability to improve soil quality and provide weed control for ensuing crops.

The plant itself is a bushy perennial legume which grows to a height of 60-100 cm. Its leaves consist of 3 leaflets which can range in shape from almost round to lanceolate. The stems are slender and may be either hollow or solid. Flowers grow in clusters of 10-20 and the florets are usually blue or purple, white or yellow, occasionally bronze and green and may be variegated with shades of blue and green. (Goplen, 1987) Seed pods are slightly downy and vary from kidney or sickle shaped to single, double or triple-coiled in appearance; however “the sickle pod has been almost eliminated by selection because it contains few seeds and shatters easily”. (Goplen et al., 1987, p.6)

The roots of the alfalfa plant are of four types: tap, branch, rhizomatious and creeping. The majority of roots probably penetrate most soils to a depth of about 2 m. (Fulkerson) Taproots typically penetrate “from 7 to 9 m, but roots have been observed 39 m deep in a mine beneath an alfalfa field”. (Sheaffer & Evers, 2007, p. 182) “Depending on the length of the growing season and maturity at harvest, alfalfa will have from 2 to 10 regrowth cycles”. (Sheaffer & Evers, 2007, p.182)

One of the distinctive characteristics of alfalfa is its ability to tap into the nitrogen supply Alberta Alfalfa Hayin the air. It does this through an especially unique symbiotic relationship with a particular type of soil bacteria. These bacteria produce nodules on the root that convert nitrogen in the air into a form that is readily used by the plant- a process called “nitrogen fixation”. Soil acidity directly affects the growth and survival of these bacteria and can be a significant impediment to high alfalfa yields. Saline soil conditions also deter productivity because salinity adversely affects seed germination and also prevents roots from taking in water and essential nutrients.

At Barr-Ag, we take up to three cuts of the early maturing varieties of Alberta Alfalfa Hay from our irrigated farms. This alfalfa is sought after for its higher protein content. The later maturing variety is grown on our dryland properties and we harvest up to two cuts. All of our alfalfa hay is non-GMO.(See to the attached article: USDA to OK Genetically Modified Alfalfa )

Barr-Ag’s head office is located at 5837 Imperial Drive, Olds, Alberta, Canada, T4H 1G6. Please visit our website or call or write if you have any questions about our timothy hay, non-GMO alfalfa hay or any of our other products. We can be reached by telephone at: 403 507 8660 or by email at: or
Fulkerson, R.S., Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Publication 59
Goplen, B.P, Baenziger, H., Bailey, L.D., Gross, A.T.H., Hanna, M.R., Michaud, R., Richards, K.W., Waddington, J., (1987) Agriculture Canada: Growing and Managing Alfalfa in Canada, Publication 1705/E
McKenzie, Ross H., (2005) Agri-Facts: Soil and Nutrient Management of Alfalfa
Sheaffer, Craig C., Evers, Gerald W., (2007) Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture

GMO Wheat

GMO Wheat

While many people have heard the term “GMO,” some do not know what it really means. The acronym GMO stands for genetically modified organism. There has been plenty of controversy surrounding GMO wheat and other GMO foods, since many claim that they are unsafe to consume and negatively impact the planet. In fact, it is illegal to grow GMO wheat in Canada and the United States.

Wheat is one of the most widely consumed crops on our planet. It is used in bread, GMO Wheat and Breadnoodles, cereal, beer and several other products. Unfortunately, the supply of wheat can’t keep pace with the ever-expanding number of humans. Some believe that genetically modified wheat is the solution, since massive amounts can be grown in a short period of time compared to traditional wheat. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of this type of wheat.


GMO wheat can be grown in large volumes, since it is resistant to infections and parasites, which are major threats to conventional wheat. Proponents argue that we should opt to devote our limited farmland to this type of wheat, since it is highly efficient compared to relatively slow-growing traditional wheat.

Some argue that genetically modified wheat is of higher quality because it carries extra nutrients that boost the crop’s nutritional value. Scientists alter wheat’s genetics to make it much healthier to consume. It is also worth noting that this type of wheat can withstand some severe environmental conditions, including brutal cold spells and drought.


Humanity has yet to experience the long-term results of genetically modified wheat consumption, leading opponents to argue that it is potentially dangerous to human health. This type of wheat might have a negative impact on consumers’ bodies, but the real consequences are still unclear. Opponents believe that genetically modified wheat compromises antibiotic resistance and even affects allergies.

Those against GMO wheat also believe that it harms the environment. Arguments pertaining to GMO wheat’s negative environmental impact are extensive. Some state that this wheat causes a decline in biodiversity where a single crop emerges into dominance. Others say it is responsible for cross-pollination in which other crops are forcefully replaced.

There are also social consequences to genetically modifying wheat. Since improvements in GMO wheat are expensive to implement at this point, only wealthy farmers are able to take the GMO route.

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any or our crops including Alfalfa and Timothy Hays, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse corps.

Canadian Alfalfa Hay Exports

Alfalfa hay is high in energy, protein and digestible fibre, making it the preferred forage for dairy cows and horses and is recognized around the world.  Alalfa hay is widely grown in Western Canada, due to this regions ideal growing conditions for this nutrient rich legume.

There are many factors to consider when growing and processing high quality alfalfa hay including: soil management, nutrient composition, seeding rates, time of cutting, raking, baling and storage of the product.  It’s important to cut the forage when it is young to ensure maximum quality and nutrients, compared to a plant that is older and already flowering.

Alfalfa hay goes through two processing industries in preparation for export.  These processes are alfalfa dehydration and hay compaction.  Most of the processing occurs in the Canadian Prairies and products include dehydrated alfalfa meal and pellets, sun-cured alfalfa pellets, alfalfa cubes and compressed bales of alfalfa hay.

The Canadian compressed hay industry was first established in the early 1980s.  Most of the industry is located in Alberta.  Hay and grain growers like Barr-Ag have access to ideal climatic conditions based on the foothills of the Canadian Rockies as well as better access to irrigation.  This location also provides easy access to export terminals on the west coast, the last stop in Canada before alfalfa hay products are exported to Asia and other international markets.

Double Compressed Alfalfa Hay

After the alfalfa forage is cut and baled it is sent to Barr-Ag facilities for double-compression.  Bales are untied and loaded into the compressing machine where they are compressed to less than two times their original size.  Hydraulic pressure is used to compress the bails before they are retied with banding materials.  Double-compressed hay bales can vary in size and weight.

Type of Double-Compressed Bale Weight Dimensions # of bales in a 40 HiCube Trailer
Full Bale 60kg 21x24x18” 416 double-compressed bales
Half Cut Bale 30kg 21x12x18” 832 double-compressed bales
Mini Bale 40kg 21x18x16” 580 double-compressed bales
Big bale in sleeve – 2 cut 420kg 48x36x39” 58 double-compressed bales
Big bale in sleeve – 4 cut 420kg 48x36x39″ 58 double-compressed bales
Big bale in sleeve – 8 cut 420kg 48x36x39″ 58 double-compressed bales

Double compressed alfalfa hay bales can also be processed with a protective sleeve or full wrap for storage and transport.  Watch this video of compressed alfalfa hay bales being wrapped in Barr-Ag’s facility.

Do you want to export Canadian alfalfa hay?

At Barr-Ag, we do our best to accommodate the needs of our customers. We take care of all of the required customs documents to help ensure that deliveries are problem-free from our end. Shipments to Asia go via the Port of Vancouver, shipments to Europe go via the Port of Montreal and freight to the USA goes via Chicago/Fort Lauderdale. Flexible shipping options include cost and freight (CNF), freight on board (FOB) and container yard (CY).

Contact us for more information!

For more information


Reducing Risk of Fire on Your Farm & Ranch

Reducing Risk of Fire on Your Farm & Ranch

Part 2 – Reducing Risk of Fire on Farm & Ranch

As we discussed in Part 1 of Farm, Ranch & Fire, an agricultural fire tends to be more costly than other industrial fires.  Not only is property and equipment affected, so too are crops and livestock – the combination is a double whammy which increases the commercial value of the loss.

Clearly all the safety precautions in the world won’t help if a wildfire has advanced to the point that evacuation of your farm or ranch is necessary, nonetheless whatever fire prevention precautions can be taken should be.  In Part 1 of this article we looked at some simple steps every farm or ranch can take with a mind to fire prevention.  Now we will take a closer look at ways to reduce the risk of fire to your farm or ranch.

Fire Prevention Measures

Forest Fire.  No one ever wants to have to use it, but it is a good idea to develop an evacuation plan (bearing in mind livestock) and incorporate drills into your staff training and education.

Noncombustible Zones.  Keep dry and flammable vegetation at least 5 feet away from barns, outbuildings and residences.  Establish a noncombustible zone around fuel, chemicals, hay and equipment. Welders/ and cutting torches should only be used in clean areas well away from flammable materials (at least 35 feet). Keep roofs and eaves troughs free of combustible debris.  Maintain appropriate fire guards around crops and pastures.

Equipment.  Replace belts, bearings and electrical components in a timely manner.  Keep engine compartments clean.  Be sure mufflers and manifolds are in proper working order.  Follow maintenance schedules for machinery.  Machinery or vehicles with special hazards should be stored separately. Fire extinguishers should be on tractors, combines and other farm and ranch vehicles.

Buildings.  Be sure to include updating buildings with fire resistant materials (and sprinklers) in your budget and short and long-term planning.  To prevent the spread of fire, construct new buildings away from preexisting ones.  Keep vegetation cut around and between buildings.  Use fire doors and smoke detectors.

Electrical.  Be sure staff and family know how to disconnect main power.  Extension cords are not designed to be permanent wiring solutions.  When you need to use them for a temporary purpose, be sure they are rated appropriately for the task.  Keep an eye out for exposed wiring or frayed insulation around wiring.  Better safe than sorry.  Bring in a licensed contractor for advice, inspections, renovations and new construction.

Heating Sources.  Use dust and moisture resistant covers on lights.  Tank heater cords and heat tapes should be protected against damage by pests or livestock.  Use heaters with tip-over protection and be sure they are not placed in high traffic areas or where combustibles and flammables are stored.  Dispose of oily rags in a timely manner.  Cure hay to the proper moisture content before bailing.

Controlled Burns.  The Government of Saskatchewan has a great little article online entitled “FireSmart: Farm and Ranch Practices”.  The article has some excellent tips about controlled burns, as well as fire prevention in general for farmers and ranchers.

Farming and ranching may feel a bit like gambling sometimes.  There are many variables at play which can affect the prosperity of an operation from year to year – don’t let careless fire prevention be one of them.  Be vigilant, establish a culture of safety on your farm or ranch.



Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

The Government of Saskatchewan; Wildfire Education and Prevention; FireSmart: Farm and Ranch Practices

Overview of Timothy Hay

 Timothy hay, (Phleum pratense), is the only species within its genus-Phleum- of substantial importance economically. This perennial bunchgrass, referred to as a cool-season, cold-tolerant grass, possesses a life span ranging from moderate to long. The plant’s shallow root system is located in the first 30 centimetres of soil (Gesshe, 1994) though roots have been found much deeper in feral timothy where soil and other conditions are optimal and the plant has been left undisturbed.

With long, straight stems, timothy hay reaches a height of between 1 and 1.5 metres when fully mature. (Gesshe, 1994) At the base of the stem is a bulbous looking structure known as a corm. The corm’s chief purpose is the storage of sugars which it then uses to provide the nutrition for the production of new shoots. As this new secondary crop begins to develop, it begins to take root and forms new secondary corms. From these secondary corms arises yet another set of shoots-the stage at which the plant will over-winter.
The plentiful amount of basal and stem leaves renders timothy a productive hay crop. The leaf blades of the timothy plant are flat and the seed head, which is cylindrical in shape, is located at the top of the stem. The seeds themselves are shaped like a short grain of rice encased in a hull. The hulls are compacted together in the head which can grow to be a full 15 centimetres in length (Gesshe, 1994).

Timothy possesses outstanding winter hardiness both as a seedling and an established plant and thrives in temperatures between 15 and 21ºC. While the plant is tolerant to acidity, timothy’s optimal pH soil environment is within the 5 to 7 range and it does not do well in soils that are alkaline or saline. Timothy is well adapted to heavier textured black, grey and organic soils and requires limited fertilization. With poor tolerance for flooding and even poorer tolerance for drought, timothy is well suited to the 45 to 55 centimetre precipitation zone found in western and northern Alberta. (Gesshe, 1994)

There are many varieties of timothy which are classed as being: early, very early, midseason or late. At Barr-Ag, we grow 2 styles of timothy hay. We take 2 cuts from the early maturing variety which is grown on our irrigated farm in southern Alberta. Our late maturing variety is grown on dryland on our other farms near the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Barr-Ag’s head office is located at 5837 Imperial Drive, Olds, Alberta, Canada, T4H 1G6. Please visit our website(link to home page) or call or write if you have any questions about our timothy hay, non-GMO alfalfa hay or any of our other products. We can be reached by telephone at: 403 507 8660 or by email at: or .

Agriculture Canada (1978) Timothy: High-Quality Forage for Livestock in Eastern Canada
Casler, Michael, D., Kallenbach, Robert, L. (2007). Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture Vol II
Gesshe, Ray, Foothills Forage Association (1994). Timothy Production Handbook
Langer, R.H.M. (1973). Pastures and Pasture Plants

Brief History of Alfalfa

Alfalfa, the oldest of our cultivated forage crops, is thought to have “originated in southwestern Asia with Iran as the geographic center of origin” (Goplen et al., 1987, p. 5) Alfalfa was first introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors. Meeting with idyllic conditions in Mexico and Peru, the alfalfa plant thrived and spread to “Chile, Argentina, and finally to Uruguay by 1775.” (Bolton et al., 1975, p. 7) Catholic missionaries brought alfalfa to Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. “Many areas were producing alfalfa in the southwestern USA by 1836. However, it was the introduction of the “Chilean clover” to California during the days of the gold rush that proved to be of major importance.” (Bolton et al., 1975, p. 7) In fact, cultivating alfalfa was usually a better paying enterprise than panning for gold.

By “the late 1800’s, alfalfa was being grown to some extent in Montana, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio. Although the Chilean (Spanish) sources of alfalfa were well adapted to the southwestern states, they lacked winter hardiness needed for successful production in the northern and eastern states.” (Bolton et al., 1975, p. 8) Meanwhile, colonists in New England had already introduced alfalfa to their new homeland under the name “lucerne”. “…More than 100 years before alfalfa made its important entry into California from Chile, the crop had been recorded in Georgia (1736), North Carolina (1739), and New York (1791).” (Bolton et al., 1975, p. 8) However, lucerne was having a tough time thriving along the eastern states as soils are generally more acidic and the humidity very high.

Cultivation of alfalfa was largely unsuccessful in Canada and in the northern United States until the more hardy variegated strains of “Medicago media (purple-flowered M. sativa x yellow-flowered M. falcata)” (Goplen et al, 1987, p. 5) were introduced via a German immigrant, Wendelin Grimm who settled in Minnesota in 1857. Grimm persevered through the substantial winter-kill that several back-to-back brutal winters wrought on his alfalfa crops. Through the process of natural selection a resultant hardy strain of alfalfa was born. “…Grimm’s alfalfa soon advanced successful alfalfa culture into the northern states and Canada.” (Goplen et al., 1987, p. 5)

While there have been introductions of other strains of alfalfa since that time, it was the initial efforts of Wendelin Grimm in the late 1850’s that have enabled us at Barr-Ag to grow alfalfa hay near the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains . Today alfalfa is available as an early maturing or standard or medium maturing types.

At Barr-Ag, we take up to three cuts of the early maturing varieties of alfalfa from our irrigated farms. This alfalfa hay is sought after for its higher protein content. The later maturing variety is grown on our dryland properties and we harvest up to two cuts. All of our alfalfa hay is non-GMO.(See the attached article: USDA to OK Genetically Modified
Alfalfa; Good-Bye Organic Dairy, Honey, and Grass-Fed Beef? )

Barr-Ag’s head office is located at 5837 Imperial Drive, Olds, Alberta, Canada, T4H 1G6. Please visit our website or call or write if you have any questions about our timothy hay, non-GMO alfalfa hay or any of our other products. We can be reached by telephone at: 403 507 8660 or by email at: or

Bolton, J.L., Goplen, B.P., Baenziger, H., (1975) Alfalfa Science and Technology
Goplen, B.P, Baenziger, H., Bailey, L.D., Gross, A.T.H., Hanna, M.R., Michaud, R., Richards, K.W., Waddington, J., (1987) Agriculture Canada: Growing and Managing Alfalfa in Canada, Publication 1705/E
Evers, Gerald W., Sheaffer, Craig C., (2007) Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture