Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Paul V. Fonnesbeck


Paul V. Fonnesbeck


John Butcher


Melvin Anderson


Donald V. Sisson


A 2 x 3 x 2 factorial arranged split plot experiment was used to determine the decrease of dry matter yield from field-dried alfalfa hay caused by the application of a measured quantity of artificial rain (sprinkling irrigation). The three hay treatment factors were (1) alfalfa hay was cut at late vegetative and early bloom stage of maturity and (2) leached by 0, 5 mm or 20 mm of artificial rain applied by sprinkling and (3) sprinkled in the swath, 24 or 48 hours after cutting.

Changes in dry matter yield were not significantly (P < .05) related to stage of maturity of forage, level of artificial rain applied or the time of application of artificial rain. There were no significant interactions for dry matter yield. The non-significant results were probably due to the variability of the alfalfa stand among the specific areas harvested for each treatment and insufficient replications to control the variability.

Forty-eight lambs were fed for 56 days on the twelve experimental hays with four lambs (replications) per treatment. The 56 day feeding period was split into four 14-day pen-type feeding periods. (1, paired feeding in pen; 2, individual feeding in pen; 3, individual feeding in cage; and 4, paired feeding in pen.)

There was no significant response of the lamb to alfalfa hay quality (feed intake, weight gain or feed efficiency). Lambs increased feed intake when fed individually compared to pair feeding. The result was increased weight gain and feed efficiency of individually fed lambs. This was particularly evident during period two. There was a significant (P < .05) increase of feed intake associated with advancing maturity of forage during the individual pen feeding period.

Feed intake was higher during the second paired pen feeding period relative to the first paired pen feeding, but lower than the single pen feeding. Lambs consumed the rain damaged hay as well as or better than the control hay when fed individually. The also gained faster with the greater feed intake. These results show that sheep will utilize rain leached hay efficiently if it is not heat damaged. The complication of heat damage needs additional study.