Haying method and storage length effects on chemical composition and mold growth on alfalfa hay (Medicago sativa, L. cv. Florida 77)

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

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