Teff grass hay can be a lower-cost alternative to alfalfa in diets of growing beef steers and dairy heifers.

Utah State University scientists reached that conclusion following a 12-week trial comparing the warm-season annual grass and alfalfa in hay-based total mixed rations. One beef-steer diet had 20.5% alfalfa hay and 43% corn silage; the other, 44% teff hay and 21% corn silage. Dairy heifers received a diet with 54% alfalfa hay and 25% corn silage or one with 8.5% alfalfa hay, 42% teff hay and 11.3% corn silage.

Feeding teff increased dry matter intake and the average daily gain of heifers but not steers. It reduced rumen fermentation as evidenced by lower volatile-fatty-acid levels in both types of cattle. But the higher intakes offset that, resulting in no negative effects on growth, say the researchers.

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