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Translational Animal Science






Oxford University Press

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License


Alfalfa is often included in the diets of beef animals; however, the nutrient content of alfalfa is variable depending on the region in which it is grown, climate, soil, and many other factors. The leaf portion of alfalfa has a less variable nutrient composition than the stem portion of the plant. The variability that is present in the alfalfa plant can make the development of total mixed rations of consistent nutrient content difficult. As such, the purpose of this study was to determine how the inclusion of fractionated alfalfa leaves and alfalfa stems impacts performance and carcass quality of finishing beef steers. Twenty-four steers were allocated to one of three treatments: a control group fed a typical finishing diet with alfalfa as the forage (CON; n = 8), a typical diet that replaced alfalfa with fractionated alfalfa leaf pellets and alfalfa stems (ProLEAF MAX™ + ProFiber Plus™; PLM+PFP; n = 8), or a typical diet that replaced alfalfa with alfalfa stems (PFP; n = 8) for 63 days. Steers were fed individually once daily, weighed every 14 days and ultrasound images were collected every 28 days. At the end of the feeding trial, steers were harvested at a commercial facility and carcass data was obtained. Analysis of dry matter intake demonstrated that steers receiving the PFP and CON diets consumed more feed (P < 0.001) than steers consuming the PLM+PFP diet. Steers receiving the PLM+PFP diet gained less (P < 0.001) weight than the steers receiving the other two dietary treatments. No differences (P > 0.10) in feed efficiency or carcass characteristics were observed. Steers receiving the PFP diet had improved (P = 0.016) cost of gain ($0.93 per kg) when compared with steers receiving PLM+PFP ($1.08 per kg) diet. Overall, our findings demonstrate that the inclusion of PFP in place of alfalfa hay in a finishing diet has the potential to improve cost of gain, without negatively affecting growth, performance, or carcass characteristics of finishing feedlot steers.