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A productive alfalfa crop removes significant quantities of macronutrients and small amounts of micronutrients from the soil (Table 1). A complete fertilizer program is essential to ensure a highly productive, long-lived stand.
Alfalfa is well known as an excellent source of protein and energy for beef cattle. A beef cow needs high energy hay to regain body weight after calving, produce milk for her calf, and rebreed in 40 to 90 days after calving.
Pastures often contain weeds that are potentially dangerous to livestock. The toxic compounds in plants are usually a defense mechanism against predation and have a distinct, unpleasant odor or a bitter taste and are not preferentially grazed. Consumption of unpalatable plants will increase under some circumstances, primarily if other forage is not available. Understanding the dangers and various management strategies to control toxic plants will reduce the risk to your livestock.