Forage Yield and Quality of Chicory, Birdsfoot Trefoil, and Alfalfa During the Establishment Year

The Open Agriculture Journal 22 Sept 2008 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874331500802010068


As part of a study to evaluate alternative forages for farmed deer, we compared forage yields and quality of birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and forage chicory (Cichorium intybus) with that of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) in north central Alberta, Canada. Despite similar plant densities among the three species, the foliar cover of chicory averaged 76%, 20% greater than alfalfa and 50% greater than trefoil. Alfalfa had higher plant height, dry matter yields, and crude protein concentrations compared to chicory and trefoil, leading to crude protein yields nearly double that of the other forages. Alfalfa also had superior over-winter persistence. Birdsfoot trefoil stands exhibited poor competitiveness in the year of establishment, as demonstrated by high weed and volunteer clover biomass. Chicory had lower neutral detergent fiber concentrations compared to the other forages, leading to a favorable neutral detergent soluble value of 590 g kg-1 DM, 6% greater than that of trefoil. In contrast, tannin concentrations were greatest in trefoil (nearly 60 g kg-1 DM), well above those in the other forages (<20 g kg-1 DM). These results highlight the potential of chicory for forage production, as well as the importance of mixing alfalfa with alternative forages to optimize forage yield and quality.

Keywords: Alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, chicory, quality, sward establishment, yield.
Fulltext HTML PDF