A mixture of meadow fescue and alfalfa topped a Canadian study aimed at identifying a forage mix that supplies the best ratio of available energy to protein degradability for dairy cows under frequent clipping.

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers compared several mixtures of one grass species plus one legume. They seeded timothy, Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, orchardgrass, meadow bromegrass and meadow fescue with alfalfa, white clover or birds-foot trefoil. Carbohydrate and protein percentages and other nutritional qualities were determined at the first two harvests of the first production year at two sites.

Mixtures of meadow fescue with any of the legumes, especially alfalfa, provided the best combination of a high water-soluble-carbohydrates-to-crude-protein ratio, high yield and average digestibility.

“The feasibility of maintaining this desired composition throughout the growing season and for several cropping years remains to be seen,” the researchers wrote.