The objective of this experiment was to study the influence of six haying and four storage periods on the chemical composition and mold growth of alfafa hay. A 6x4 factorial arrangement was used in a completely randomized design, with five replicates for chemical analyses and four replicates for mold determinations. The haying methods were: T1- (shade, S) shade-drying; the forage was carried to a barn immediately after cutting and spreaded (S); T2 and T3: the material was sun-dried until a 50% weight loss and was shade-dried thereafter; T2 was spreaded (sun 50%, S) and T3 was piled up (sun 50%, P). Treatments T4 and T5 consisted of sun-drying and revolving the forage until a 60% weight loss and then completing the drying process under shade, with the material either spreaded (T4, sun 60%, S) or piled up (T5, sun 60%, P). T6 consisted of sun-drying until an 80% loss and then piling up under shade (sun 80%, P). The four storage periods were: 0, 15, 30 and 60 days. It was observed that the hays originating from the longest sun-drying periods showed the worst quality in terms of CP, NDF and ADF. Mold occurrence was highest in the shade-dried hay (T1) and also in the piled-up material, due to lack of ventilation necessary for moisture removal. The most adequate method for alfalfa conservation consisted of sun-drying the forage until a 50% weight loss, followed by shade-drying of the spreaded material.
alfalfa; chemical composition; hay; haying; mold; storage