The Effect of Alfalfa Meal on Early Growth of Chicks1,2

The Effect of Alfalfa Meal on Early Growth of Chicks1,2

The Effect of Alfalfa Meal on Early Growth of Chicks1,2 H . S. WlLGUS3 AND I . L. MADSEN4 Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colo...

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The Effect of Alfalfa Meal on Early Growth of Chicks1,2 H . S. WlLGUS3 AND I . L. MADSEN4 Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado (Received for publication August 4, 195,3)


Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station Scientific Series No. 349. 2 Acknowledgement is made to the American Dehydrators Association, Chicago, Illinois for a grant to the Colorado Agricultural Research Foundation in partial support of this investigation. 3 Resigned. 4 Resigned.

data of Robertson, Miller and Heuser (1948) showed that the use of alfalfa meal or of bran to increase the fiber content of a chick ration by four percent resulted in a growth depression which did not occur when ground cellophane was used for this purpose. Insko and Culton (1949) obtained similar results with alfalfa meal and bran. They further noted a variation in growth effect among different samples of alfalfa meal. German and Couch (1950) also found this difference in two samples of meal. Such variations undoubtedly explain the failure of Mussehl, Ackerson and Borchers (1950) to find evidence of a growth inhibitor in alfalfa meal with increasing levels up to 15 percent. Carlson and Hoelzel (1948) stated that 10 percent of alfalfa stem meal, as a source of bulk for rats during the life span, contained some deleterious substance which increased the incidence or respiratory infection. The feces were hard and the life span was not improved in contrast to results obtained with bland bulk formers. The results of Zucker and Zucker (1948) indicated the presence of a depressing factor in dried alfalfa for weanling rats. Unpublished data from a commercial laboratory (private communication) demonstrated a depressing effect of large amounts of alfalfa meal on the early growth of rats. Warwick, Cunha and Ensminger (1948) found the growth of young pigs receiving a ration containing 15 percent of alfalfa meal to be inferior to that on a ration containing 5 percent. They thought that this was due to fiber content. The results of the early work here, of Cooney et al. (1948), Robertson, Miller


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N STUDIES conducted several years ago at this Station to ascertain the feasibility of supplying all the supplementary riboflavin and carotene required in chick rations entirely from alfalfa meal, considerable variation was encountered among the several meals in the maximum amounts that could be used without depressing growth. Studies were therefore initiated to ascertain the extent of the occurrence of meals possessing marked growth-inhibitory properties. The objectives included investigation of the possible causes of this apparent inhibitory effect, means of preventing or overcoming it, and the maximum level at which inhibitory meals could be fed without expression of depression. Since this project was initiated, other investigators have published observations indicating that excessive amounts of alfalfa may be detrimental. Cooney, Butts and Bacon (1948) reported that a sample of dehydrated alfalfa meal caused progressive depression of early growth and feed utilization of chicks as the level in the ration was increased beyond five percent. This effect could not be ascribed to fiber. Draper (1948) reported similar depression of growth with either suncured or dehydrated alfalfa meal. Kodras, Cooney and Butts (1951) also found both kinds of meals to depress growth. The




ing early growth. It must also be emphasized that the expression of growth depression in most cases was found at levels of alfalfa higher than those now considered practical or essential in poultry rations. PROCEDURE

In these experiments, approximately 25 chicks of both sexes were usually placed on the experimental ration at two days of age. The duration of experimental period was ordinarily 4 weeks. The meals under test were incorporated in the basal ration at a level of 10 percent except when otherwise indicated. Growth and feed utilization (grams gain per gram of feed consumed) are expressed as percent of the results on the basal ration used as control in each experiment. The basal rations used are given in Table 1. In all but a very few of the earliest trials, the highenergy basal ration 1 was used. Statistical analyses, calculated from

TABLE 1.—Basal rations used High-•energy Ingredients


% Pulverized oats 20 Wheat gray shorts 12.5 Soybean oil meal (% protein) 7.5 (44%) Meat & bone scrap (50% protein) 5 Fish meal (60-65% protein) 5 Dried whey — 2 Pulverized limestone Dicalcium phosphate — 0.5 Salt, iodized Manganese sulphate 6gm. A & D supplements + Riboflavin supplement* + Calcium pantothenate acid — Betaine HC1 — Merck APF Supplement No. 3 — Supplement plus ground yellow corn to make 100 Calculated Analysis Protein, % 19.5 Fiber, % 6.5 Calcium, % 1.65 0.75 Phosphorus, % 3,500 Vitamin A, I.U. per lb. Vitamin D, A.O.A.C. per lb. 225 Riboflavin, mg. per lb. 1.8

No. 1

No. 2

% — —

% — —

20 (44%) 5 5 2.5 1 1 0.5 10 gm.

+ +

— — —


21 2.8 1.4 .85 5,000 200 2.2

30 (50%)

— —

2.5 1.5 1.5 0.25 10 gm.

+ + + 0.05 0.11 100 21.5 2.5 1.0 .65 4,000 200 3.0

* In the standard ration, riboflavin levels were adjusted using dried buttermilk. In the other rations, synthetic riboflavin was used.

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and Heuser (1948), Carlson and Hoelzel (1948), and of Kodras, Cooney and Butts (1951), indicate that this depressing effect can not be ascribed solely to the increased fiber. This is further supported by the data of Davis and Briggs (1947) showing that addition of as much as 15 percent of cellulose to a purified chick diet free of fiber resulted in significantly improved growth. The report of Lepkosvky and co-workers (1950) and of Peterson (1950) show that most of the growth-depressing effect can be removed from alfalfa by water extraction and that the factor appears to be of organic nature, but not fiber per se. On the other hand, Alder (1946) has found that growing turkeys can tolerate up to 35 percent of alfalfa meal in the growing mash, fed with grain after the ninth week, without lowering feed efficiency or growth. Possibly the growthdepressant exerts its influence only dur-




Survey of 100 meals. The effects of 100 different samples of alfalfa meal on the relative growth of chicks were ascertained. The samples of alfalfa meal were utilized at a level of 10 percent in the ration. In practically every trial, New Hampshire chicks were obtained from one source and the high-energy basal ration 1 was used. The source, even to the field of origin, of most of these meals was obtained. This includes notes as to presence of foreign weeds and grasses. Practically all of the meals fell within the 17 percent protein classification. These data were supplied through the cooperation of the dehydrating companies. Most of the products were dehydrated; three were sun-cured on the Station farm. The distribution of these meals according to relative growth is presented in Table 2. Twenty percent of the meals depressed growth markedly (below 90 percent of normal growth), 27 percent demonstrated a depression of questionable biological significance (90-95 percent of normal) and 53 percent showed no appreciable effects (95-105 percent). Three of

TABLE 2.—Variations in growth of chicks fed different alfalfa meals Relative growth

Number of meals


'atei Meals 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 93.5 ured Meals 92

1 2 0 3 14 27 39 13 1 100 3

the meals caused extreme depression of growth. One ton of the meal causing the greatest depression and one-half ton of one of the meals giving normal growth (100 percent) were obtained for future studies. The relative growth of 92 percent on the three sun-cured meals, as shown in Table 2, closely approximates the average of 93.5 for all meals. This is in agreement with the observations of Draper (1948) and of Kodras, Cooney and Butts (1951). Effects of time of cutting. The average growth data on 81 of these samples were segregated according to the number of the cutting. The average relative growths of chicks fed the samples from each cutting were as follows: first, 94.5 percent; second, 94 percent; third, 90 percent; fourth, 95.5 percent; fifth, 99.5 percent. More meals of greater inhibitory activity were found in third-cutting meals and the fewest in later cuttings. The biological significance of these findings is questionable. It is of interest to note that Payne, Hughes and Grandfield (1949) reported lowest growth on a meal from alfalfa cut at the blossom stage. Relation of growth and feed utilization. Relative feed utilization was determined

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the results on growth from three representative trials, showed that the least significant differences in relative growth required at the 0.05 percent and 0.01 percent levels varied from 6.5 to 8.5 and 8.6 to 11.0, respectively. Two of these trials represented those in which the chicks were of poorer quality than average and hence greater variations in individual growth occurred. A difference of 10 percent in relative growth therefore may be considered to be significant in the experiments reported in this paper. The occasional chick whose final weight was clearly out of the reasonable range of variation within a pen was eliminated from the average weight for the pen.


EFFECT OF ALFALFA ON CHICK GROWTH TABLE 3.—.Relation between relative growth and

TABLE 4.—Relation between relativegrowth and

relative feed utilization

carotene content

Relative growth

Relative feed utilization

Number of meals

65-74 75-84 85-89 90-94 95-99 100-105

86 96 94 95 96 94

2 3 10 23 32 14

Relative growth

Average carotene


mg./lb. 53 51 61 67 78 87

65-74 75-84 85-89 90-94 95-99 100-105

Number of meals 2 5 10 21 31 17

alfalfa meals representative of the most depressing, moderately growth depressing and least growth depressing groups were made at the Department of Chemistry, Kansas State College. Ten samples were assayed in each group. In addition, six samples each in the two extreme groups were sent for similar analyses to the Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering, U. S. Department of Agriculture. The summarized results, presented in Table 5, show that potassium tended to increase with increased growth depression while the reverse trend is indicated by sodium and phosphorus. Any correlation is evidently of little or no significance. Selenium was not positively identified in any of the 12 samples sent to the U. S. Department of Agriculture. It thus appears that minerals or mineral metabolism in the plant were not concerned in this growth effect in these samples. This is in agreement with the report of Lepkovsky et al. (1950).

Relationship of ash content to growth effect. The ash content and certain mineral constituents of the ash in dehydrated

In comparison with the figures reported by Schrenk and Silker (1950), the alfalfa meals used in this study were below aver-

TABLE 5.'—Relationships between relative growth and mineral content Relative growth 81 91 100







% % % % % % p.p.m. p.p.m. % 10.i.9±.7 1.08±.10 .31±.03 .09±.03 2.65±.40 .24±.09 6±3 110±51 10i.9±.8 1.37±.ll .33±.0S .13±.04 2.32±.41 .24±.08 5 + 1 90+21 i.9±1.0 1.15±.14 .36±.06 .14±.04 2.00±.25 .24± .09 6 ± 3 130+50 10.9±1





p.p.m. p.p.m. p.p.m. p.p.m. p.p. 15±5 850±290 7.7 1,680 47 20± 15 610± 180 — — — 20+6 640±330 6.8 1,480 51

• These three analyses were run by A. W. Specht and G. Edgington, Division of Soil Management, B.P.I.S.A.E., TJ. S. Dept. of Agriculture on 6 samples representative of each growth group. The other analyses were run by W. G. Schrenk, Dept. of Chemistry, Kansas State College, on 10 samples representative of each growth group.

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on 84 of the dehydrated meals. The relation to relative growth is negligible, as shown in Table 3. This indicates that the inhibition of growth is not due to a factor which interferes with digestibility but that it has a more direct depressing effect. Relation between growth and carotene content of meals. The average carotene content of the meals falling into the various relative growth classifications was tabulated and is shown in Table 4. The distinct trend for the meals to show progressively less growth inhibition as carotene content increased is suggestive of some relationship. However, a scattergram of these two observations demonstrated numerous exceptions, indicating that the relationship is not a direct one. This observation should be explored for its significance relative to the occurrence and nature of the so-called inhibitor. It suggests the possibility that the stems, which contain less carotene than the leaves, may contain more of the factor.


452 TABLE 6.—Effect


of other feed ingredients on relative growth and feed utilization

Level fed

Calculated fiber

% 10 10 10 10 10 3 4 8 4 7.5 2.5 10 20 10 20 10 20 5 10 10 20

age in calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, manganese, and copper. Effect of fiber on growth and feed utilization. In some of the trials, a pen was included in which Celluflour was added to the basal ration. The results, given in Table 6, show that this supplement generally resulted in a slight improvement of growth and in no impairment of feed utilization as contrasted to the averages obtained on the 100 alfalfa meals. According to the manufacturer, Celluflour is a washed spruce fiber containing about 79 percent cellulose and 16.5 percent hemicellulose, and, by the older method of fiber determination, contains about 38 percent crude fiber. Since most of the alfalfa meals tested presumably contained less than 27 percent fiber, they contributed about 2.5 percent fiber when fed at the 10 percent level in the ration. The evidence, therefore, strongly suggests that the fiber content is not responsible for the growth inhibition of these meals. This is supported by the results of Lepkovsky



1.2 1.5 3.0

1.2 2.4


65 to 105 97,102,106 100 95 81 102,106,108 92,101,105,109 100 93 90 89 99 98,103 103 98,104 86,101 102,106 86 97 109 100,102

.K.eia,uve ieea

utilization Range 84 to 100 92,100,100 90 80 75 98,100,102 90,100,102,102 100 90 86 87 92 90,90 95 85,100 86 90,100 100 95 87 90,90

and co-workers (1950) and of Peterson (1950) showing that the residue of alfalfa following simple water extraction was non-inhibitory. It is also supported by the fact that the variations shown in Table 2 occurred in meals fed at the same level. Further evidence is provided by the data of Cooney, Butts and Bacon (1948), Robertson, Miller and Heuser (1948), Carlson and Hoelzel (1948), Davis and Briggs (1947), and Kodras, Cooney and Butts (1951). Effect of other feed ingredients. Further evidence that fiber per se is not involved is included in Table 6 in which relative growth response to other feedstuffs added to the high-energy basal ration 1 is shown. Each figure represents a different sample except in the case of Celluflour. The materials demonstrated different responses within and among samples. Especially noteworthy are the variations obtained on two different samples of wheat bran and of wheat germ meal. These data show that other vege-

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Alfalfa Meal Deh. Sugar Beet Leaves Deh. Broccoli Deh. Lettuce Meal Koa Haole Meal Celluflour Celluflour Celluflour Dried Beet Pulp Straw Dried Rumen Contents Barley Barley Oats Oats Wheat Bran Wheat Bran Wheat Germ Meal Wheat Germ Meal Wheat Gray Shorts Wheat Gray Shorts

Relative growth



TABLE 7.—Effect


Bindweed Tops Bindweed Roots Alfalfa & weeds (approx. 50%)

of weeds on growth


Relative JgjgL tion





5 2.5 10.0

104 89 87

102 107 —

fungicides or from drift from adjacent fields thus treated remains to be ascertained more completely. Some evidence of this nature was obtained incidental to a project in which it was attempted to influence carotene stability by treatment of alfalfa 10 days before mowing with either 2-4D or a commerical solution of the antioxidant, diphenyl-p-diamino benzene. The treatments and results of growth trials, using high-energy basal ration 1, are presented in Table 8. Carbowax was used as a control for the antioxidant since it was presumed to resemble the solvent used for the latter. The lowest level of 2-4D caused no damage to the plants. The other treatments showed definite "burning" and "wilting" effect. No effect was found on carotene stability in suncured or dehydrated meals from these plots. No pronounced effects on growth or feed utilization were noted from the dehydrated meals which were used. These data indicate that products of disrupted plant metabolism were not involved in growth response of chicks fed the treated meals. The antioxidant used in this experiment is now being applied commercially to TABLE 8.—Effect of chemicals applied to alfalfa plant Relative E



No. 5 No treatment 2-4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid* 2-4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid* 2-4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid* 2-4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid* Carbowax Diphenyl-para-diamino benzenet Diphenyl-para-diamino benzenet

applied per acre



% 99

— i


i i



Feed utilization

100 96 100





* Applied in refined cottonseed oil. t Caromax (B. F. Goodrich Chemical Co., containing 5% of chemical), applied in refined cottonseed oil.

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table feedstuffs possess an inhibitory effect at times, as the data of Robertson, Miller and Heuser (1948) and Insko and Culton (1949) also indicate. These variations in response are evidence of unknown factors within and among feedstuffs other than alfalfa. Effect of weed contamination. The possibility that weeds or other foreign plants might be responsible for the inhibitory effects was explored partially. A review of the history of the many meals on which this information was available showed that no obvious relationship existed between presence of foreign plants and growth response. Additional evidence in Table 7 shows that bindweed tops, dehydrated, had a stimulating effect, if any. The roots were inhibitory but the chances of bindweed roots being harvested with alfalfa are obviously negligible. The sample of dehydrated alfalfa for which results are given in this table was especially prepared for this study by one dehydrator from a field in which weeds were estimated to constitute at least half of the material mowed. Despite this excessive contamination, growth inhibition was not severe although it was quite noticeable. Weed contamination in other samples of known history was rarely estimated to be in excess of two percent. Effect of damage by chemical treatments. The possibility that the significantly inhibitory samples may be caused by direct application of insecticides, weedicides, or



of alfalfa meal

Experiment No. FM-2


Levels of Material

None Corn Syrup Cane Molasses Beet Molasses Corn Oil None Corn Syrup Cane Molasses Beet Molasses






10 10 10 10 10 15 15 15 15

0 5 5 5 1.5 0 7.5 7.5 7.5

Relative Growth


88 104 105 101 96 77 86 82 82


89 97 89 92 92 84 79 79 84

tion was used, additions of three common types of molasses or syrup and of refined corn oil were made to alfalfa to reduce its dustiness. The results (Table 9) of feeding meals thus treated as compared to the untreated meals at high levels show a consistent advantage except for the oil. The latter resulted in marked rancidity. The advantages may be ascribed to the alleviation in dustiness, especially since very similar advantages were obtained on the same meals by coarse grinding. Lepkovsky et al. (1950) were not able to show marked improvement by oil or water treatment but they used a higher level (20%) of meal.











FIG. 1. Granular texture of alfalfa meal gives better growth than a fine meal representative of average commercial production. The response obtained on the coarse-textured meal is expressed in terms of percentage gain or loss of that obtained on the finely ground meal from the same original alfalfa. Columns of the same marking represent identical samples fed at different levels. Feed utilization is not influenced as much as is growth.

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Additions of molasses and oil. In early studies in which the low-energy basal ra-

TABLE 9.- -EJfect of eliminating dustiness


alfalfa meal after dehydration. Extensive trials by the company with chickens, rats, and pigs have amply demonstrated that this chemical is not toxic to these species at many times the level thus utilized. Effects of texture. On one lot each of sun-cured hay and of dehydrated alfalfa, different degrees of grinding were made in order to compare meals of commercially fine grind with those ground to a granular or coarse texture, yet fine enough to use in chick starting mashes. The results of these growth trials, as given in Figure 1, are expressed as percentage growth on the coarse meals relative to that on the fine products as 100. In part of these trials, the standard basal was used and in the other the high-energy basal 1 was used. The data in most of these direct comparisons show an over-all advantage in the coarser grinding. This possesses the additional advantages of requiring less power in grinding and of lessening losses and labor problems through reduced dustiness. Such texture can be readily produced commercially.



TABLE 10.—Comparison of leaf and juice fractions with whole meal


No. BTY-5


Relative Material

Whole meal No. 1 Leaf fraction Whole meal No. 2 Leaf fraction Whole meal No. 2 Stem fraction Leaf fraction Whole meal No. 2 Leaf fraction Dried juice 1 Dried juice 2 Dried juice 2


% 2.5 1.5 2.5 1.5 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 2.0 1.0 1.0 2.5

At this time, an effort was made to TABLE 11.—Effect


Feed utilization



100 96 100 105 99 99 100 103 100 107 100 107

factor between stem and leaf could not be noted. In this table are also presented the results of feeding dried expressed alfalfa juice. These products, very high in protein and in carotene, would supply well beyond the recommended allowance of vitamin A activity for chicks at the 1 percent level when freshly prepared, and had a relatively low fiber content. Slight evidence of an enhancement of growth on the highenergy basal ration presumably adequate in all respects was obtained. Attempts to isolate the alfalfa inhibitor. During the preceding experiments, the observations of Peterson (1950) on the concentration of the so-called inhibitor in the acetone-insoluble fraction of water extract of alfalfa were kindly supplied in advance of publication. In the meantime, the Western Regional Research Laboratory of the U. S. Department of Agriculture submitted samples of similar fractions prepared from a hot-water extract of the presscake, or bagasse, remaining after expression of the major portion of the juices. The results of growth tests, given in Table 11, failed to show the presence of an inhibitor in the water extract or the acetone-soluble or -insoluble fractions. The acetone-insoluble fraction evidenced the possible presence of a growth stimulant at the higher level. In all these trials, the new basal ration 2 was used.

98 100 96 98 98 95 98 88 100 98 98 102

of fractions of water iextracts Level fed

Experiment No. 8



Water extract of fresh alfalfa bagasse Acetone-soluble fraction of extract Acetone-insoluble fraction of extract Acetone-insoluble fraction of extract Same+1% cholesterol

Dried alfalfa basis


Relative growth












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It is possible that the gains may be ascribed to unknown nutrients present in these supplements. Recent unpublished data obtained on a corn-soybean oil meal basal ration at this Station have indicated this. However, the basal ration used here is considered to have been adequate in such nutrients. On the high levels fed in experiment FM-3, it was noted that droppings were softer and slightly damper than normal from corn syrup and cane molasses and were soft and very wet on the beet molasses. Subsequent observations have shown that reduction in dustiness could be achieved with much lower levels of these materials. However, if the benefits gained are the same as those achieved by coarser grinding, the latter is more economically attained. Comparison of leaf and juice fractions. Leaf fractions were separated out from two alfalfa meals and were incorporated in the high-energy basal ration 1 in levels equivalent to those contained in the original meal in one comparison. In the case of the second meal, higher levels were fed. The effects on growth and feed utilization (Table 10) disclosed no advantage in this separation. Unfortunately, these meals were not inhibitory and hence the distribution of the assumed inhibitory












FIG. 2. Attempts to isolate or destroy the inhibitory fraction of alfalfa meal. Effect of each supplement to the basal ration, fed equivalent to 20 percent of the original meal, is expressed as percentage of growth obtained on the unsupplemented basal ration.

were used in different trials. However, the major portions of these data were obtained in two recent trials in which the new basal ration 2 was used. In one of these trials, White Leghorn chicks were used and in the other one New Hampshire chicks were used. Alfalfa meal 88, previously found to be the most inhibitory At the same time, other samples of this one out of the 100 tested and alfalfa 96, meal were subjected to direct acetone one showing no inhibition, were used at extraction and to autoclaving. The results levels of 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 percent. No show that the so-called inhibitory fraction pronounced differences were found in relais relatively insoluble in acetone and is tive response between the two breeds or the two meals. Utilizing the inhibitory resistant to moist heat. sample 88 in a portion of these trials in The results of this series of experiwhich the original high-energy basal 1 was ments confirm the observations of Petercompared to the new one, the cause of this son (1950) that the presumed factor is later phenomenon was not found to be in insoluble in acetone and is stable to heat. the new basal 2. Another trial was conThe evidence could be interpreted to ducted to determine if this was due to a confirm that it is water-soluble and posloss of potency of the inhibitor or to a sibly to indicate that it is slowly destroyed difference in individual components of the by hydrolysis. basal formulas. Portions of samples 88 Effect of different levels of alfalfa meal on and 96 which had been stored since procgrowth. During the course of these experiments, several trials were conducted in essing for approximately 10 months a t which increasing levels of some of the storage shed temperature and at 30° were meals were incorporated in the rations. compared on ration 1. No marked inhibiThe low- and high-energy basal rations tion or differences were noted between or

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duplicate with minor modification the isolation procedure of Peterson (1950) using an alfalfa meal of known pronounced inhibitory effect. The procedures are given in outline form in Figure 2, together with the growth results. The original meal was incorporated in the basal ration at a level of 20 percent. The various fractions were fed at an equivalent level. Evidently most of the inhibitor was removed from the meal or was destroyed but the recovery in the acetone-insoluble fraction was only slight. This, and the failure of the recombined fractions and residue to exhibit the inhibitory effect of the original meal, indicates the partial destruction of the factor in the procedures and possibly the presence of a partially counteracting growth-promoting factor. The extraction and fractionation procedures were extended over several days because equipment to accomplish these steps rapidly was temporarily unavailable at the time. Possibly this extended exposure to hot water and subsequent solvents caused appreciable destruction.



O »o



FIG. 3. The relative early growth response of chicks to increasing levels of alfalfa meals. Small dots represent relative growth from individual meals, large dots show the average of growth responses at that level, and X's represent the relative feed efficiency.

within samples. Additions of 0.2 percent demonstrate depression of growth. These results show quite clearly that of betaine HC1 or of choline chloride or of 0.5 percent of Merck APF Supplement the levels of alfalfa meal now commonly No. 3 had no effect. Either the inhibitory used in practical starting mashes (2.5 to substance was lost in storage, even at 5 percent) are not high enough to permit 30°F., or one or more of the ingredients in significant expression of the so-called the basal rations contained enough of a growth inhibitor. It is evident that the counteracting material, such as the sterols first limiting factors in the economical use to prevent any growth depression. In of alfalfa meal for chick rations of high light of the reports of Lepkovsky et al. efficiency are the high fiber content and (1950) and of Peterson (1950), these the low level of productive energy per pound. These limitations have long been explanations are not probable. The cure of the average for the rela- recognized without implications of distive growth on different levels of alfalfa crimination. Another contributing factor meal (Figure 3) demonstrated that the is the low density, or high bulkiness. inhibitory effect is not exhibited when Figure 4 illustrates the relationship bealfalfa meal is utilized in levels up to five tween density and productive energy per percent. There is a slight indication that pound for some feed ingredients. The growth is improved above the basal ra- former data were obtained at this tion (100%) occasionally by additions of station and the latter were taken from the meal. As the levels increase beyond five data of Fraps (1946). percent, growth declines correspondingly. Search for the cause of the inhibitory In some of the earlier trials, there was a factor should be continued in order to tendency for growth inhibition to be ex- ascertain how to prevent its occurrence or pressed at slightly lower levels. Also, feed to counteract its effect. This may permit utilization was generally below the maxi- more complete expression of the growthmum even at low levels. German and promoting properties of this product, evCouch (1950) reported that 3 percent of idence for which was indicated in some of one sample of meal was high enough to the results reported in this paper. This

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(COLO AE.S.'53>

n'tz'', Izz










600 . 400 200 .

FIG. 4. The density and productive energy of some common feed ingredients, illustrating the bulkiness (low density) and low productive energy of alfalfa. Density and productive energy are usually in inverse relationship. "Dry" designates volume in air-dry state. "Wet" designates volume after soaking in water until saturated.

becomes all the more desirable in view of the report of Frey and Wilgus (1949) on the presence of a carotene utilization factor in alfalfa which makes the carotene in it more effective as a source of vitamin A activity than that of vitamin A per se. SUMMARY

The results of chick feeding trials on 100 samples of alfalfa meal, mostly of known history, show that, when each one was incorporated in a high-density starting ration at the 10 percent level, approximately one-fifth of them depressed early growth markedly, one-third demonstrated moderate depression and one-half showed no appreciable effect. Three samples exerted serious depression. Inhibitory samples were found among sun-cured as well as dehydrated meal. No evidence has yet been found to involve production factors. The inhibition is not due to fiber per se nor is it related obviously to ash or ash constituents. There was a trend for the more inhibitory samples to be lower in carotene. Similar inhibition

may be exhibited by other common feedstuffs. An apparent loss in inhibitory effect was noted on the most inhibitory sample which can not be explained on the basis of present data. Alfalfa meal at levels below five percent appears to improve early growth occasionally but as levels increase above five percent growth declines proportionately. Fiber content and bulk of this product are probably more important factors than the so-called inhibitor in limiting amounts of alfalfa to be used in chick rations. However, practical means of preventing or of overcoming this inhibitory effect may permit the more complete expression of the growth-promoting characteristics of this product even in high-energy feeds. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors are greatly indebted to the following persons and organizations for their assistance: to A. M. Vance, Poultry Plant Superintendent, and L. M. Dansky, P. M.

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REFERENCES Alder, B., 1946. Economical turkey production in Utah. Utah Agr. Exp. Sta. Mimeo. Series 323. Carlson, A. J., and F. Hoelzel, 1948. Prolongation of life span of rats by bulk formers in the diet. J. Nutrition, 36: 27-40. Cooney, W. T., J. S. Butts and L. E. Bacon, 1948. Alfalfa meal in chick rations. Poultry Sci. 27:828830. Davis, F., and G. M. Briggs, 1947. The growthpromoting action of cellulose in purified diets for chicks. J. Nutrition, 34: 295-300. Draper, C. I., 1948. A comparison of sun-cured and

dehydrated alfalfa meal in the diet of the chick. Poultry Sci. 27: 659. Fraps, G. S., 1946. Composition and productive energy of poultry feeds and rations. Texas Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 678. Frey, P. R., and H. S. Wilgus, 1949. The utilization of carotene from different sources by laying chickens. J. Nutrition, 39: 517-528. German, H. L., and J. R. Couch, 1950. The effect of feeding varying levels of dehydrated alfalfa meal on the growth of chicks and poults. Poultry Sci. 1950: 841-845. Insko, W. M., Jr., and T. G. Culton, 1949. Fiber in chick starting rations. Poultry Sci. 28: 769. Kodras, R., W. T. Cooney and J. S. Butts, 1951. Chick growth depressing factor in sun-cured and dehydrated alfalfa meals. Poultry Sci. 30: 280292. Lepkovsky, S., W. Shalaeff, D. Peterson and R. Perry, 1950. Alfalfa inhibitor in chick rations. rations. Poultry Sci. 29: 208-213. Lepkovsky, S. Private communication. Mussehl, F. E., C. W. Ackerson and R. L. Borchers, 1950. How much alfalfa in chick rations? Poultry Sci. 29: 773. Payne, L. F., J. S. Hughes and C. O. Grandfield, 1949. Nutritive value of alfalfa cut at different stages and cured by different processes. Biennial Report of Director, 1946-48, Kansas State Agricultural Experiment Station: 71. Peterson, D. W., 1950. Some properties of a factor in alfalfa meal causing depression of growth in chicks. J. Biol. Chem. 183: 647. Robertson, E. I., R. F. Miller and G. F. Heuser, 1948. The relation of energy to fiber in chick rations. Poultry Sci. 27: 736-741. Schrenk, W. G., and R. E. Silker, 1950. Mineral composition of dehydrated alfalfa. Trans. Kansas Academy of Science, 53: 422-426. Warwick, E. J., T. J. Cunha and M. E. Ensminger, 1948. Cull beans for growing and fattening swine. Washington Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 500. Zucker, L. M., and T. F. Zucker, 1948. Does "animal protein factor" occur in green plants? Proc. Exp. Biol. Med. 68: 432-434.

ASSOCIATION NOTICE Guest attendance at the annual meeting is limited to guests invited by the Executive Committee upon recommendation or request by an active member of the Association. It is important that all requests be in the hands of

the Secretary, T. B. Avery, Kansas State College, Manhattan, at least 30 days prior to the annual meeting. Persons wishing to invite guests please comply with the deadline requirement. (This ruling does not apply to a member's family.)

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Davis, and W. K. Manning for assistance in conducting the experiments; to the National Alfalfa Dehydrating and Milling Co., Lamar, Colorado, for supplying the most of the meals of known history; to the several other dehydration companies for other meals of known history; to J. L. Fults of the Plant Pathology Section for planning and supervising the chemical treatments of the alfalfa plots; to the Cream of Alfalfa Corp.; Lexington, Neb., for the dried alfalfa juices; to W. D. Maclay, Western Regional Research Laboratory, Albany, Calif., for several alfalfa fractions; to R. E. Silker and W. G. Schrenk,Dept. of Chemistry, Kansas State College, and W. 0 . Robinson, A. W. Specht, and G. Edgington, Div. of Soil Management and Irrigation,B.P.I.S.A.E., U. S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Md., for mineral analyses of selected samples.