Video: First loads of ‘high-quality’ alfalfa imported by Glanbia

The first loads of “high quality” alfalfa imported from Spain by Glanbia arrived on Irish shores earlier this week.

Approximately 500t of alfalfa – which is said to be the equivalent of 2,000t of silage – arrived at the beginning of the week, with 1,000t expected to arrive in total.

However, a spokesperson for Glanbia stressed that alfalfa forms just part of the solution for farmers who are faced with fodder shortages.

The 600 bales of alfalfa – which weigh in the region of 800kg each and are 88% dry matter (DM) – are being provided at a price of €210/bale.

Once confirmation is given by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, farmers who purchase the bales will be partly reimbursed through the Fodder Import Support Measure announced last week.

Glanbia is also hauling silage down from Northern Ireland for its members to alleviate the demand for fodder.

Advice

A number of diets incorporating alfalfa – which are available online – have been drawn up for farmers to ensure they get the most out of the imported fodder by Glanbia Ireland’s feed technical manager, Martin Ryan.

The main focus of this importation is to help farmers stretch silage, Ryan explained.

But, where there is no silage at all or a minimum amount of grass, the imported alfalfa is there to provide critical fibre to keep rumen function working, he added.

“Let’s say that there is 3-4kg of grass dry matter going in or if you get four or five hours grazing in the morning; even with that much, 3kg of this product (alfalfa) together with 4-5kg of beet pulp and 5-6kg of parlour ration will keep a 600kg cow eating 18kg DM and supporting 25-26L of milk production per day,” he said.

Glanbia has stated that it is constantly monitoring the fodder situation in its catchment area and will take further action where necessary.

What is alfalfa?

Alfalfa is widely grown throughout the world as forage for cattle; it is most often harvested as hay, but can also be made into silage or grazed, Glanbia explained.

alfalfa
Alfalfa being delivered to Glanbia Ireland’s branch in Ballytore, Co. Kildare

Alfalfa usually has the highest feeding value of all common hay crops. Due to its high protein content and highly digestible fibre, alfalfa’s primary use is as feed for dairy cows, it added.

This crop was chosen by Glanbia for its very high DM and because of its long shelf life, when it is stored correctly. More information about alfalfa is available on Glanbia’s website.