Category Archives: Alfalfa Hay

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.

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

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

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

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

Genetically Modified Crops

Genetically Modified Crops

Since 1994, GM foods have been permitted to be sold in Canada. Currently, Canada’s growing of genetically modified crops is limited to canola, soybean, corn and sugar beets of which most are exported to foreign countries. The country is one of the largest exporters of GMO crops in the world. Recently, field tests have begun on growing GM alfalfa in Ontario and Quebec that have raised concern over the probable contamination of Canada’s naturally grown alfalfa crop through cross pollination.

Appearance of Genetically Modified Crops

Genetically modified crops were first produced in 1982 and by 1986; the first field trials were done on tobacco for herbicide resistance. In 1994, the United States approved its first food crop, a tomato. Since then, GM crops have exploded in variety and availability.

Claimed Benefits of GMOs

GMO crops do have their advantages:

  • Because they have been engineered to be more drought resistant, they can be grown in borderline areas and places that might not have been usable previously.
  • They can provide more nutrients such as the vitamin A in rice exported to countries with poor populations and malnutrition issues.
  • There is also a larger yield per acre with some crops and they are much more resistant to disease, herbicides and insect infestation.

Why is There Concern over GMOs?

Much discussion  has ensued over GM crops and whether they are environmentally safe. While the subject has been widely researched, there continues to be controversy over whether there has been enough proof found to be certain that GM crops are safe. It is not so much safety for human consumption, as it is safety for our environment.

The biggest issue appears to be cross-contamination of adjacent natural crops, which is almost impossible to control. Is this going to cause the eventual extinction of natural crops within a few decades? No one knows, as there has just not been enough long term research to determine what the outcome will be.



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

GMO Alfalfa in Canada

GMO Alfalfa Hay Negatively Affects Horses

Barr-Agg received a letter from a concerned horse owner from British Columbia.  Her mare was experiencing hive break outs and she suspected the GMO alafalfa hay she was feeding her horse was the cause of these health problems.

Unfortunately, much of the hay available for purchase on Vancouver Island is imported from the United States.  Our neighbours to the south do not have the same regulations on genetically modified hay as we do in Canada.  Currently, hay producers in Canada are required to grow non-GMO alfalfa; but that could be changing too.

GMO Alfalfa Hay Concerns Horse Owner

The majority of alfalfa hay on Vancouver Island is imported from Washington State.  This is what our friend Melissa had been feeding her mare.  When her horse continued to break out in hives she consulted the vet and started the process of an elimination diet to discover the cause.  The results revealed that the GMO alfalfa from Washington was definitely a contributing factor.

“When I switched to low quality local hay it cleared up,” shared Melissa.

Unfortunately this lower grade hay, although it may have been Canadian non-GMO hay did not solve all of the problems.  The mare is a young growing horse and required more energy in her feed.  She started to lose weight and her growth was very poor.

“A friend suggested we try her on Alfa-tec cubes and she has flourished,” said Melissa.  Although switching to Canadian non-GMO hay helped, her horse still experienced health problems due to allergies.

“I am in the process of eliminating all GMO feeds in my barn to see if it makes a difference.  I discovered this week that our Canadian alfalfa is non-GMO and I think this may be why she can eat the cubes manufactured from Canadian grown crops but not the Washington hay itself,”  said Melissa.  “I have been told that Ontario is in the process of introducing some GMO alfalfa crops.”

Unfortunately, Melissa is right about that.

GMO Alfalfa in Eastern Canada

Barr-Agg grows and exports non-GMO Hay.  Unlike the United States, producers in Canada have been required by law to grow non-GMO alfalfa hay.  Things are changing and late last year the Government of Canada approved commercial plantings of genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa in Eastern Canada.

A company called Forage Genetics International (FGI) from Wisconsin has been given exclusive rights to commercialize Roundup Ready in Canada.  In an article published by The Western Producer, FGI indicated they will not do so until a co-existence plan has been completed.

Roundup Ready alfalfa is already produced in the United States and accounts for nearly 70 percent of total production in some states.  Experimental Roundup Ready is being tested in Eastern Canada.  Testing includes local adaptation and yield along with gauging the commercial market interest.  The article also stated that when GMO alfalfa is commercialized in Eastern Canada, it won’t be so quickly commercialized Western Canada until growers have been consulted.

Although regulatory authorities in Canada have concluded that it does not pose a risk to human health or the environment, producers and farmers suspect it could have a negative effect on the health of their animals.  Furthermore, there is no way to control the pollen flow from a GMO crop to an organic non-GMO alfalfa field and GMO alfalfa could cause a loss of markets for non-GMO producers and seed growers.

According to statements made by Mike Peterson from FGI in an article published last month FGI has not made a decision to commercialize yet.  (Read full article).

I guess we will have to wait and see.


All About Alfalfa

We learned in last month’s blog article that alfalfa hay supports milk production in dairy cattle because of its high energy value and low fiber content.  There are many beneficial nutritional attributes in alfalfa hay that, over other forage choices for dairy cows, give producers the best economic value.

Dairy farmers are not the only producers that benefit from alfalfa hay.  It is used as forage nationally and internationally for other livestock like horses, sheep and goats.  Beef cattle producers are attracted by the high protein and energy value of alfalfa hay, and there are many advantages to feed beef cows this high quality forage.

Nutritional Value of Alfalfa Hay

This high protein and high energy forage also holds high mineral values.  Beef cows that consume alfalfa hay will benefit from quick nutrient absorption due to the lower fibre content.

Alfalfa Hay: Protein & Energy

Alfalfa hay in the late bud, early bloom stage can contain 16-20% crude protein.  Even alfalfa hay cut later can still contain 12-15% crude protein, while fiber content rages from 20-28%.  The digestion rate of alfalfa hay is about 36 hours.  Lower quality forages contain much less protein and more fiber, which contribute to digestion taking up to 70 hours.  The actual quality of protein in alfalfa hay is excellent with more than 70% of the total protein being digestible. (University of Nevada, Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet 93-23)

Although alfalfa hay is known for its high protein content, its high energy content should not be overlooked.  Beef cows need high energy forage to regain body weight after calving and producing milk for calves so they are ready to re-breed sooner.  Since alfalfa hay is digested much quicker than other forages, beef cows are able to gain poundage faster, produce more milk for their calves, and maintain a better condition.

Alfalfa Hay:  Vitamins & Minerals

Alfalfa hay has a high nutritional quality.  Alfalfa contains vitamins A, D, E, K, U, C, B1, B2, B6, B12, Niacin, Panthothanic acid, Inocitole, Biotin, and Folic acid.

Freshly harvested alfalfa hay is very rich in vitamin A, which can actually help reduce stress in animals caused by moving or shipping cattle.  Vitamin E can help eliminate ‘white muscle disease’, which can cause losses in calves due to a deficiency of vitamin E and selenium.

It also contains the following minerals:  Phosphorus, Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Chlorine, Sulfur, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese, Iron, Cobalt, Boron, and Molybdenum and trace elements such as Nickel, Lead, Strontium and Palladium.

If one pound of alfalfa hay is fed per 100 pounds of body-weight, beef cows will meet their daily requirements for calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, iron, cobalt manganese and zinc.  The high levels of calcium in alfalfa hay are beneficial to lactating beef cows and developing heifers and bulls.

Barr-Ag Alfalfa

Barr-Ag alfalfa hay is GMO-free and graded by an independent laboratory analysis.  Clean air, long warm days, cool nights, soil rich in calcium and magnesium give us more than ideal growing conditions for high qualify alfalfa hay.

These growing conditions, combined with the nutritional attributes of alfalfa hay for dairy cow, beef cow, and other livestock producers, have brought us customers from all over the world!

Come give us a visit, or contact us for more information at 403 507 8660 or email



Sources:  North American Alfalfa improvement Conference,  University of Nevada Corporate Extension,

High Quality Forage Benefits Dairy Cows

There are many benefits of high quality forage, as the saying goes: you get what you pay for.  You can reverse that statement by saying you don’t get what you don’t pay for.  Or even that you could pay for it later!  Studies have shown that when dairy producers invest in high quality forage they will see a valuable return on that investment.

Choosing High Quality Forage

Optimal animal performance can improve with high quality forage.  It is essential for weight gain, producing higher levels of milk, increasing reproduction success, and farm’s profits.  It’s important to give your dairy cows the appropriate type and amount of feed according to their specific nutritional needs.  Factors that could help define these needs include: sex, age, species, and production status.

When choosing your high quality forage for either beef or dairy cows it’s also important to think about the follow factors: whether the cows will eat the feed, how much of the feed they will actually eat measured against how much energy is required for their specific activity (milk production, breeding, beef production, etc.), digestibility, nutrient content, and any negative factors the forage might have on a specific cattle group.

High quality forage performs at its best when it is harvested young.  As crops like alfalfa mature the fiber content increases, lowering the quality.  Forage that is too high in fiber slows digestion.  With slower digestion the animal will not take in as much and might not consume enough energy to meet their activity requirements.

High Quality Forage Boosts Milk Production in Dairy Cows

High Quality Forage Dairy Cows

Milk production has high nutrient demands on dairy cowsDairy cows have to consume large quantities of food to consume enough energy to keep producing milk.  In some cases a dairy cow cannot physically eat enough feed to meet the requirements of milk production; and the cow’s body fat could start depleting in an attempt to meet those energy requirements.  This is a problem.

High quality forage like Alfalfa hay can greatly benefit dairy cows and milk production.  Alfalfa hay contains less neutral detergent fiber and is more digestible.  Also, high quality forage like early harvest alfalfa is lower in fermentable fibre and passes through the digestive system faster, allowing the cow to consume more.  That means dairy cows that consume high quality forage are able to increase both their energy intake and total milk produced.  Talk about getting your cake (alfalfa hay) and eating it too!

Milk that is produced with a higher fat concentration is can usually be sold for a premium.  Since high quality forage is high in the right type of fiber it also supports milk fat production, which in turn affects the producer’s bottom line.

A study came out of the University of Wisconsin that was able to conclude that the milk response of dairy cows fed different levels of alfalfa forage quality was improved when fed more high quality forage.  They were able to prove that high quality forage contains more energy and also allows dairy cows to eat more!

The study also tested adding a concentrate like grain to lower quality forage to try to offset reduced milk production resulting from low quality feed.  High producing dairy cows are sometimes fed concentrates to help boost the energy content of their feed.  Even adding this concentrate could not improve the results of the feed.  Here are their examples:

Early bloom alfalfa with 54% concentrate produced almost as much milk as pre-bloom alfalfa with 20% concentrate, but no amount of concentrate would produced over 70 lb of fat corrected milk from mid or full bloom alfalfa.  Further, the 71%-concentrate formulations are not sustainable, due to animal health problems associated with low fiber. 

They also found that the actual fat concentration of the milk produced fell as the added concentrate increased.  With milk with high fat concentration going for top dollar, adding too much concentrate to the feed could affect a dairy producer’s profit.

View their study results and further research on high quality forage.