At the recent Dairy Calf and Heifer Association annual conference, Dr. Limin Kung, silage expert from the University of Delaware, told the audience that making good-quality alfalfa silage is considerably more difficult than corn silage.

Among alfalfa’s challenges are:

  • It does not allow pH to drop quickly
  • It is difficult to wilt on cool, wet ground
  • It is difficult to pack when dry
  • Undesirable clostridial fermentation occurs when dry matter is low (less than 30%)
  • It is unstable and easily heat damaged when dry matter is high (greater than 50%)

Kung noted that wet alfalfa silage that goes clostridial can lead to seepage, which is serious and messy problem.

He said two keys to making excellent alfalfa silage are:

  • Take a wide swath (9-foot rows) when cutting; and
  • Wilt to at least 35% dry matter.