Is Alfalfa hay good for Bison?

June 2004


Dear Gerald:

Regarding forges and feed supply, we live in Manitoba and we have some native grass hay and also some tame hay (Alfalfa, Timothy, Broom and Fescue).  Is there any truth to the myth that Bison doesn't do well on alfalfa?  I have seen some very successful producers feeding straight alfalfa as part of their feed supply.



Dear Allen:

Bison will do very well on alfalfa hay. Most bison producers report that their bison prefer to eat grass over alfalfa when given a choice on pasture. Once the grass is gone, the bison eat the alfalfa. When the feed is cut and made into hay, bison will readily eat alfalfa. Many producers use it to feed bison. Good alfalfa hay is probably more than bison need to meet their nutritional requirements so it makes an expensive feed if given by itself. This is especially true of bison cows. The extra nutrients

can make cows too fat and is a waste on money. If diluted with a poor hay or straw, alfalfa hay will fit nicely into bison diet. Calves and yearlings have higher nutritional requirements and therefore a higher proportion of alfalfa hay is appropriate.

Gerald Hauer

Bison Centre

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