Alfalfa Meal in Chick Rations*

Alfalfa Meal in Chick Rations*

828 RESEARCH NOTES SUMMARY the experimental conditions. Other experiments are being conducted to determine the effect of different soils at varying...

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the experimental conditions. Other experiments are being conducted to determine the effect of different soils at varying levels on chick growth.

Data presented show that soil supplemented a ration containing soybean oil meal as the only protein concentrate. These results indicate that a factor necessary for chick growth was present in the soil. A liver fraction was more effective than soil in promoting chick growth under

McGinnis, James, J. M. Stevens, and K. Groves. 1947. The in vitro synthesis of a chick growth promoting factor in hen feces. Poultry Sci. 26: 432-433. McGinnis, James, E. L. Stephenson, J. S. Carver, W. D. Graham, and J. C. Lewis. Unpublished data.

much lower in the groups receiving the alcohol-soluble liver fraction and soil.


W. T. COONEY, J . S .



Oregon State College, Corvallis, Oregon (Received for publication August 28, 1948)

A review of literature on the subject of feeding alfalfa meal to chicks brings out the following points that would justify its use in poultry rations: (1) Alfalfa is a good source of arginine, lysine, cystine, and tryptophane, and a reasonably good source of methionine with the glycine level remaining questionable. Other valuable amino acids are also present. (2) Alfalfa meal can be an excellent source of vitamins, particularly is this true with respect to carotene (pro-vitamin A), riboflavin, pantothenic acid, alphatocopherol, and vitamin K. (3) Contrary to popular belief, good quality alfalfa meal furnishes * A preliminary report on alfalfa meal in rations for young chickens obtained from a cooperative project between the departments of Poultry Husbandry and Agricultural Chemistry, presented at Oregon's Sixth Annual Nutrition Conference with Oregon Feed and Seed Dealers Association, January 30, 1948. Published as Technical Paper No. 544 with the approval of the Director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. Contribution of the Department of Poultry Husbandry.

from 30 to 40 percent as much total digestible nutrients per unit of weight as the common cereal grains. (4) Alfalfa meal is a feedstuff that is normally available in large quantities at prices often below that of grains and other accepted ingredients. As a result of a great many experiments throughout the country with alfalfa meal in poultry rations, recommendations for its inclusion in chick starter and broiler mashes has generally been between 3 and 8 percent. Prior to Alder's (1946) report on the use of alfalfa meal in turkey rations, the general maximum level felt to be satisfactory for turkeys varied between 12.5 and 15 percent with a common recommendation varying from 5 to 12 percent. In general, poultry do not utilize fiber efficiently. In most instances where the alfalfa content of poultry mashes approached the 10 percent level consumption fell off and rate of weight gains diminished. The most common reason given for the adverse effect of alfalfa in poultry

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-V Females 10 IS 20 Percent Xlfalfa

V 25

5 flO 15 20 , Percent Alfalfa



Hales 5.0 5.5 6.1 6.6 Percent Fiber (Cellu Rations)


FIG. 1. Cumulative average growth at 8 weeks for each of the 18 lots of New Hampshire chicks.

With available evidence at hand, it was rations has been the fiber content. It is known, however, that chicks can and will felt that further work should be underconsume rations with as much as 20 taken to determine whether or not larger percent fiber (as it is commonly deter- quantities of alfalfa meal than normally mined in the laboratory) without growth recommended could be fed growing chickbeing materially affected. On the other ens without adversely affecting growth. hand, levels of fiber above 9 or 10 percent The initial feeding trials were designed to have consistently reduced feed efficiency cover this phase of the problem. Eighteen when measured on the basis of pounds of lots of 25 New Hampshire chicks each were used. The lots were segregated on feed per pound of gain. Feeding trials conducted by Sampson the basis of sex, and the chicks in each lot and Mussehl (1936) with White Plymouth were selected from the whole at random. Rock cockerels produced some interesting They were all managed alike in battery weight comparisons. At 12 weeks of age, equipment. The alfalfa used was a dehymales receiving a ration with 5 percent drated meal. Effect of the rations on alfalfa meal averaged 57 grams heavier growth and feed utilization are shown in than similar birds on a 20 percent alfalfa Figures 1 and 2. Mortality was comparmeal ration. After the birds were dressed able for all lots and did not exceed three the carcasses of the latter group averaged chicks in any single unit. 50 grams per bird more than those fed a SUMMARY 5 percent alfalfa meal ration. Such results do not indicate any very great growthA summary of results from this initial depressing effect from alfalfa within the study is as follows: limits fed. 1. With the alfalfa meal fed in this

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-7 Pounds of feed per pound gain


Females 10 15 20 Percent Alfalfa



Males 10 15 20 Percent Alfalfa


Ink 5.0

V" Hales 5.5 6.1 6.6 Percent Fiber (Cellu Rations)


FIG. 2. Pounds of feed per chick and pounds of feed per pound of gain at 8 weeks.

experiment growth was equal to but not better at the 5 percent level than that obtained on a ration without alfalfa meal. 2. The alfalfa meal used in this study when fed above the 5 percent level depressed growth and adversely affected feed efficiency in New Hampshire chicks during their first eight weeks of life. Each addition of 5 percent alfalfa meal in the ration above the 5 percent level had a significant depressing effect upon growth. Based on the limited information obtained when similafchicks were fed rations with different fiber levels (Cellu flour) it is unlikely that these results with different levels of alfalfa can be attributed to fiber. 3. Since some experiment stations have reported better results with alfalfa meal in chick rations than found here, one is inclined to believe that there may be appreciable differences in alfalfa meals of similar quality as they are generally judged.

4. The results of this phase of the experiment indicated that there was an unidentified factor or factors in the alfalfa meal used which effectively reduced growth when fed at or above the 10 percent level. The effect may have been brought about by rendering the feed unpalatable, thereby decreasing feed Intake or by an actual physiological growthdepressing effect. REFERENCES

Alder, Byron, 1946. Economical turkey production in Utah. Utah Agr. Exp. Station Mimeograph Series No. 323. Almquist, H. J., 1946. Proteins and amino acids in animal nutrition. Revised, Feb. 1946. Adapted from a paper presented at the Nutritional Conference, Oregon State College and Oregon Feed and Seed Dealers Assn. cooperating, March 8, 1945. Sampson, F. R., and F. E. Mussehl, 1936. The effect of various levels of alfalfa meal upon the development of body organs of cockerels, Poultry Sci, 15:304-306.

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