Effect of Alfalfa Meal, Alfalfa Leaves, Alfalfa Stems and Fresh Alfalfa on Chick Growth*

Effect of Alfalfa Meal, Alfalfa Leaves, Alfalfa Stems and Fresh Alfalfa on Chick Growth*

Research Notes EFFECT OF ALFALFA MEAL, ALFALFA LEAVES, ALFALFA STEMS AND FRESH ALFALFA ON CHICK GROWTH* R. KODRAS, W. T . COONEY AND J. S. BUTTS Poult...

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Research Notes EFFECT OF ALFALFA MEAL, ALFALFA LEAVES, ALFALFA STEMS AND FRESH ALFALFA ON CHICK GROWTH* R. KODRAS, W. T . COONEY AND J. S. BUTTS Poultry Husbandry Department, Oregon State College, Corvallis (Received for publication June 25, 1951) Studies by various investigators, Cooney et al. (1948); Draper et al. (1948); Lepkovsky et al. (1949); and Kodras et al. (1951), have shown t h a t there is a relation between the depression of chick growth and the level of alfalfa meal in the rations. D a t a obtained by Cooney et al. with chicks fed rations containing alfalfa meal and equivalent levels of fiber in the form of cellu flour indicated t h a t the chick growth depressing effect of alfalfa meal could not be entirely attributed to fiber. As an additional step in the solution of the problem an experiment was conducted to test and compare the growth depressing effect of alfalfa meal, alfalfa leaves, alfalfa stems and fresh alfalfa. The products were prepared from alfalfa cut in the bud stage and full bloom stage. Each product except the fresh alfalfa was dehydrated at a temperature between 104° and 122°F. The leaves and stems were separated manually from the dehydrated plants. The dehydrated products were then incorporated in the basal mash at the 2 0 % level. The fresh alfalfa was prepared by cutting the green plants and quickly freezing t h e m between cold * Published as Technical Paper No. 693 with the approval of the Directors of the Oregon Experiment Station. Contribution of the Departments of PoulThe data in this paper are taken from a thesis to be presented by R. Kodras to the faculty of the graduate school of Oregon State College in partial fulfillment for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

plates in a deep freezer at a temperature of approximately — 13°F. After the alfalfa plants were frozen they were ground and stored at 10°F. Each day throughout the experimental period portions of the frozen alfalfa were thawed and then mixed by hand into the basal mash a t a level equivalent to 2 0 % dry alfalfa meal. The basal ration was the same as t h a t used in previous studies (Kodras et al., 1951). The control ration contained 8 0 % basal and 2 0 % millrun. The crude protein values for the products tested were: alfalfa meal (bud stage) 1 7 . 5 % ; alfalfa leaves (bud stage) 2 2 . 1 % ; alfalfa stems (bud stage) 9 . 4 % ; millrun 1 6 . 1 % ; alfalfa meal (full bloom stage) 1 2 . 7 % ; alfalfa leaves (full bloom stage) 2 0 . 7 % ; alfalfa stems (full bloom stage) 6.6%. Moisture content determined after air-drying for the frozen alfalfa was: frozen alfalfa (bud stage) 7 0 % ; frozen alfalfa (full bloom stage) 5 8 % . Twelve seven-day-old unsexed New Hampshire chicks were used in each lot. Average chick weights, feed consumption and feed utilization when the chicks were 5 and 8 weeks of age are presented in Table 1. Lots fed the fresh alfalfa rations were discontinued when the chicks were five weeks old. Results show t h a t rations containing fresh alfalfa, alfalfa meal, alfalfa leaves and alfalfa stems cut in the bud stage or full bloom stage depressed chick growth.

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RESEARCH NOTES

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TABLE 1.—Effect of ration upon chick weight, feed consumption and feed utilization at five and eight weeks of age

Rations

Lot

Average chick wt. in grams

No. chicks

Av. lbs. feed per chicks

No. Start

Pounds of feed per lb. of gain

5 Wks. 8 Wks. 5 Wks. 8 Wks. 5 Wks. 8 Wks.

End Control

20% Millrun

1

12

12

436

903

1.99

6.16

2.44

3.33

— 651 518 713

1.60 1.48 1.15 1.82

— 3.67 3.13 4.58

2.29 2.53 2.88 2.19

— 2.85 3.14 3.20

— 644 513 700

1.54 1.50 1.32 1.96

— 4.03 3.20 4.68

2.47 2.77 2.72 2.97

— 3.15 3.23 3.34

Alfalfa in Bud Stage 20% 20% 20% 20%

Fresh alfalfa* Deh. alfalfa meal Deh. alfalfa leaves Deh. alfalfa stems

2 3 4 5

12 12 12 12

12 12 12 12

381 332 247 362

Alfalfa in Full Bloom Stage 20% 20% 20% 20%

Fresh alfalfa* Deh. alfalfa meal Deh. alfalfa leaves Deh. alfalfa stems

6 7 8 9

12 12 12 12

12 12 12 12

348 311 286 365

* Air-dry basis.

When chick weights are compared at 5 and 8 weeks of age, the growth depressing effect is more pronounced at 8 weeks. There is very little difference in the rate of growth of chicks fed alfalfa cut in the bud stage or full bloom stage when comparisons are made between similar alfalfa products. Chicks fed fresh alfalfa at a level equivalent to 20% dry alfalfa grew better than those fed the same level of dehydrated alfalfa meal. This difference, however, may be due to a sorting of the ration by chicks in the fresh alfalfa lots. Alfalfa leaves at the 20% level depressed growth to a greater extent than the stems, 518 and 513 at 8 weeks as compared to 713 and 700 grams. These results indicate that the factor or factors responsible for depressing chick growth are more highly

concentrated in the leaves than in the stems of the plant. These results further substantiate previous evidence that fiber is not the major chick growth depressing factor in alfalfa, since there is less fiber in leaves than in stems. REFERENCES Cooney, W. T., J. S. Butts and L. E. Bacon, 1948. Alfalfa meal in chick rations. Poultry Sci. 27: 828-830. Draper, C. I., 1948. A comparison of sun-cured and dehydrated alfalfa meal in diet of the chick. Poultry Sci. 27: 659. Kodras, R., W. T. Cooney and J. S. Butts, 1951. Chick growth-depressing factor in sun-cured and dehydrated alfalfa meals. Poultry Sci. 30: 280291. Lepkovsky, S., W. Shaeleff, D. Peterson and R. Perry, 1949. Alfalfa inhibitor in chick rations. Poultry Sci. 29: 208-213.