The pounds of alfalfa hay fed in milk cow rations in California in the third quarter of 2017 dropped to 7.06 pounds per head per day, according to the Dairy Marketing Branch in the California Department of Food and Agriculture. This is down from 7.3 pounds in the second quarter. The average for the full year in 2016 was 8.34 pounds per head per day. In 2002, the average amount of alfalfa hay fed per head per day to milk cows was 13.07 pounds.
With very tight supplies of higher quality milk-cow alfalfa hay in the West, combined with dairies trying to reduce feed costs due to tight margins, many dairies are feeding less alfalfa hay to milk cows, but there is only hard data for California. This trend may continue in the coming months when milk price projections for California and the West will be below cost of production for many dairies.