Effect of Alfalfa (Medicago Sativa L.) Hay Supplementation and Urea Molasses Block on Feed Intake, Digestibility, and Body Weight Change of Yearling Local Sheep Fed Grass Hay as Basal Diet





Alfalfa hay, Local sheep, Supplementation, Urea molasses block, Performance


A study was conducted to evaluate the effect of supplementation of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) hay and urea molasses block on feed intake, digestibility, and body weight change of yearling local sheep fed with grass hay as a basal diet. The rationale for supplementation of alfalfa hay with urea molasses block 1) high-producing animals protein need cannot exclusively met from rumen microbial sources; 2) protein is the most expensive nutrient of ruminant animal feed. Twenty-four yearling intact male local sheep with a mean initial body weight of 23.9±1.9 (Mean ± SD) were used in a completely randomized block design. Treatments were 1% of live weight alfalfa hay (1A), 1.5% of live weight alfalfa hay (1.5A), 2.0% of live weight alfalfa hay (2A), and all three treatments offered with 100g/head/day of Urea-molasses-block (UMB). The control treatment was supplemented with concentrate mix at 2.0% of live weight (C). In addition, all treatments were fed grass hay ad libitum. The study period consisted of 84 days of feeding and 7 days of digestibility tests. Total dry matter intake was 1015.65, 925.41, 956.16, and 1078.13 (SE=± 19.4) for C, 1A, 1.5A, and 2A, respectively and 1A was lower than 2A and similar with 1.5A and C. Apparent crude protein digestibility and Crude protein intake of 2A was statistically similar to C. But, higher than 1A and 1.5A. Average daily gain was 109.33, 54.76, 55.36, and 63.1 (SE=± 6.13) g/day for C, 1A, 1.5A, and 2A, respectively and the values were the highest for C. The study showed that concentrate supplementation at 2% body weight resulted in greater body weight gain, crude protein intake and apparent crude protein digestibility. Additionally, the weight gain achieved at all grade levels of alfalfa plus in combination with the same amount of urea molasses block was commendable. But, considering the accessibility and cost of conventional concentrate mixture, 2% of Live Weight Alfalfa hay with 100g/head/day urea molasses block is recommended as an alternative supplement regime for better sheep performance.

Author Biography

Likawent Yeheyis, Amhara Agricultural Research Center, Bahirdar

Livestock Research Directorate


Murphy AM, Colucci PE. 1999. A tropical forage solution to poor quality ruminant diets: A review of Lablab purpureus, Livestock Research for Rural Development, vol. 11, no. 2. pp. 96–113.

Abraham H, Urge M, Animut G. 2015. Effects of supplementation with air dried leaves of African wild olive (Olea africana), Red thorn (Acacia lahai) and their mixtures on performance of Tigray highland sheep fed grass hay. Glob. J. Agric. Res, 1, 1-9.

Murphy AM, Colucci PE. 1999. A tropical forage solution to poor quality ruminant diets: A review of Lablab purpureus, Livestock Research for Rural Development, vol. 11, no. 2. pp. 96–113.

Alemu Y. 2008. Short term intensive fattening of sheep and goats before slaughter for rapid improvement in weight and condition and also producer incomes. Ethiopia Sheep and Goat Productivity Improvement Program (ESGPIP). In R. C. Merkel (Ed.), Techn. Bull (Vol. 11, Issue 11, pp. 1–11).

Alhidary IA, Abdelrahman MM, Alyemni AH, Khan RU, Al-Saiady MY, Amran RA, Alshamiry FA. 2016a. Effect of alfalfa hay on growth performance, carcass characteristics, and meat quality of growing lambs with ad libitum access to total mixed rations. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 45, 302-308. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1806-92902016000600004

Almaz A, Tamir B, Melaku S. 2012. Feed intake, digestibility and live weight change of lambs fed finger millet (Eleusine coracana) straw supplemented with atella, noug seed (Guizotia abyssinica) cake and their mixtures. Agricultura Tropica et Subtropica, 45(3), 105-111. https://doi.org/ 10.2478/v10295-012-0018-3

Amare B, Girmay A. 2020. Effect of dietary supplemented cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) hay as replacement of concentrate on performance and economic efficiency of Abergelle goats. Online Journal of Animal and Feed Research, 10(6), 313-320. https://doi.org/10.51227/ ojafr.2020.42

Assefa G, Kijora C, Kehaliew A, Bediye S, Peters KJ. 2008. Evaluation of tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis) forage as a substitute for concentrate in diets of sheep. Livestock Science, 114(2-3), 296-304. https://doi.org/10.1016/ j.livsci.2007.05.017

Awgichew K. 2000. Comparative performance evaluation of Horro and Menz sheep of Ethiopia under grazing and intensive feeding conditions. http://nbn-resolving.de/ urn:nbn:de:kobv:11-10014479

Betsha S. 2005. Supplementation of graded levels of peanut cake and wheat bran mixture on nutrient utilization and carcass parameters of Somali goats. An M. Sc Thesis Presented to the School of Graduate Studies of Alemaya University. 75p.

Bogale S, Melaku S, Yami A. 2008. Potential use of crop residues as livestock feed resources under smallholder farmers conditions in Bale highlands of Ethiopia. Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems, 8(1), 107-114.

Brandt Jr RT, Klopfenstein TJ. 1986. Evaluation of alfalfa-corn cob associative action. II. Comparative tests of alfalfa hay as a source of ruminal degradable protein. Journal of Animal Science, 63(3), 902-910. https://doi.org/10.2527/ jas1986.633902x

CSA (Central Statistic Authority). 2021. Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Central Statistical Agency Agricultural Sample Survey 2020/21 [2013 E.C.], Volume II. Report on Livestock and Livestock Characteristics (Private Peasant Holdings), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. II(March), 16.

Darawish S, Harb M. Y, Titi H. H. 2010. Effects of replacing alfalfa hay by barley straws on growth performance, carcass characteristics and nutrients digestibility for fattening Awassi lambs. Jordan Journal of Agricultural Science, 6, 27-40.

Dawit A. 2007. Effect of vetch (Vicia dasycarpa, l.) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa ‘hunter river’) hay supplementation on feed intake, digestibility and body weight change of Arsi-Bale sheep fed a basal diet of urea treated Barley straw. An MSc Thesis presented to the school of graduate studies of Haramaya University, 86.

Fekede F, Shiv P, Getnet A, Seyoum B, Getu K, Aemiro K, Gezahegne K. 2014. Dynamics in nutritional characteristics of natural pasture hay as affected by harvesting stage, storage method and storage duration in the cooler tropical highlands. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 9(43), 3233-3244. https://doi.org/10.5897/ajar2014.8652

Gebrehiwot G, Negesse T, Abebe A. 2017. Effect of feeding leucaena leucocephala leaves and pods on feed intake, digestibility, body weight change and carcass characteristic of central-highland sheep fed basal diet wheat bran and natural pasture hay in Tigray, Ethiopia. International Journal of Agriculture, Environment and Biotechnology, 10(3), 367-376. https://doi.org/10.5958/2230-732X.2017.00045.6

Gebremichael SG. 2008. Sheep resources of Ethiopia: genetic diversity and breeding strategy. Wageningen University and Research.

Goering HK, Van Soest PJ. 1970. Forage analyses. Agriculture Handbook 379, 68137(402), 379.Haddad S. G 2000 Associative effects of supplementing barley straw diets with alfalfa hay on rumen environment and nutrient intake and digestibility for ewes. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 87(3–4), 163–171. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0377-8401(00)00203-0

Hunt CW, Klopfenstein TJ, Britton RA. 1988. Effect of alfalfa addition to wheat straw diets on intake and digestion in beef cattle. Nutrition reports international.

Hwang YH, Bakhsh A, Ismail I, Lee JG, Joo ST. 2018. Effects of intensive alfalfa feeding on meat quality and fatty acid profile of Korean native black goats. Korean journal for food science of animal resources, 38(5), 1092.). https://doi.org/ 10.5851/kosfa.2018.e42

Jayasuriya MCN, Smith T. 1999. Frequently asked questions on Urea-Molasses-Multinutrient Block Technology (UMMB). In IAEA working document on Guidelines for developing feed supplementation packages, Vienna, Austria. IAEA (2000).

Kaito C, Morishita D, Matsumoto Y, Kurokawa K, Sekimizu K. 2006. Novel DNA binding protein SarZ contributes to virulence in Staphylococcus aureus. Molecular microbiology, 62(6), 1601-1617.

Lonsdale C. 1989. Raw materials for animal feed compounders and farmers. Straights. (Book) Chalcombe Publications, Great Britain, 17–47.

McDonald P, Edwards RA, Greenhalgh JFD, Morgan CA, Sinclair LA, Wilkinson RG. 2011. Animal Nutrition. https://www.bookdepository.com/Animal-Nutrition-Peter-McDonald/9781408204238

McDonald P, Edwards RA, Greenhalgh JFD, Morgan CA, Sinclair L, Wilkinson RG. 1995. Grass and forage crops. Animal Nutrition, England Longman Scientific and Technical, 434, 444.

McMahon LR, McAllister TA, Berg BP, Majak W, Acharya SN, Popp JD, Coulman BE, Wang Y, Cheng KJ. 2000. A review of the effect of forage condensed tannins on ruminal fermentation and bloat.

Mengesha M, Tsega W. 2012. Indigenous sheep production in Ethiopia: a review. Iranian Journal of Applied Animal Science, 2(4), 311-318. http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/ 20123405222.html

Mengistu G, Assefa G, Tilahun S. 2020. Noug Seed (Guizotia abyssinica) Cake Substituted with Dried Mulberry (Morus indica) and Vernonia amygdalina Mixed Leaves’ Meal on Growth Performances of Bonga Sheep at Teppi, Ethiopia. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2020. https://doi.org/ 10.1155/2020/9308761

Mitiku A. 2011. Substituting concentrate mix by mulberry leaves (Morus indica L.) in the diet of lactating Holstein cows. Mekelle University, Mekele, Ethiopia.

Negussie F, Dawa D, Dawa D, Ababa A, Ababa A. 2015. Effect of feeding regimes on measurements of carcass dimensional and proximate composition of Blackhead Ogaden sheep. Open Access Library Journal, 2(06), 1. https://doi.org/ 10.5829/idosi.ajn.2015.4.1.94229

Nurfeta A. 2010. Feed intake, digestibility, nitrogen utilization, and body weight change of sheep consuming wheat straw supplemented with local agricultural and agro-industrial by-products. Tropical animal health and production, 42(5), 815-824. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-009-9491-8

Rong Y, Yuan F, Johnson DA. 2014. Addition of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) to lamb diets enhances production and profits in northern China. Livestock Research for Rural Development, 26(224).

Silva JCD, Véras AC, Carvalho FRD, Ferreira MA, Souza EO. D, Barreto LG, Silva JVD. 2017. Nutritional value, performance, feeding behavior and serum biochemical profile of sheep fed with alfalfa hay replacing Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.) hay. Chilean journal of agricultural research, 77(4), 340-345. https://doi.org/10.4067/ S0718-58392017000400340

Sun L, Yin Q, Gentu G, Xue Y, Hou M, Liu L, Jia Y. 2018. Feeding forage mixtures of alfalfa hay and maize stover optimizes growth performance and carcass characteristics of lambs. Animal Science Journal, 89(2), 359-366. https://doi.org/10.1111/asj.12928

Takele F, Getachew A. 2011. Digestion, intake and live weight changes of Horro lambs fed vetch (Lathyrus sativus) haulm basal diet supplemented with sole wheat bran, Acacia albida leaf meal or their mixture. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 10(11), 1013-1021. https://doi.org/10.3923/pjn.2011.1013.1021

Van Soest PV, Robertson JB, Lewis BA. 1991. Methods for dietary fiber, neutral detergent fiber, and nonstarch polysaccharides in relation to animal nutrition. Journal of dairy science, 74(10), 3583-3597.

Worknesh S, Getachew A. 2018. Digestibility and growth performance of Dorper*Afar F1 sheep fed Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) hay supplemented with alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Lablab (Lablab purpures), Leucaena leucocephala and concentrate mixture. International Journal of Livestock Production, 9(4), 79-87. https://doi.org/10.5897/ ijlp2016.0335

Yami A. 2007. How to make urea molasses blocks (UMB) and feed to sheep and goats. Technical Bulletin1. Ethiopia Sheep and Goat productivity Improvement Program. RC Merkel (ed.). 10Pp.

Zeleke T, Mekonnen T, Asres Z, Liuel Y. 2017. Growth Performance of Weaned 50% F2 Boer x Central Highland Crossbred Goats Supplemented with Different Levels of Concentrate on Native Pasture.




How to Cite

Simone, S. K., Urge, M., & Yeheyis, L. (2023). Effect of Alfalfa (Medicago Sativa L.) Hay Supplementation and Urea Molasses Block on Feed Intake, Digestibility, and Body Weight Change of Yearling Local Sheep Fed Grass Hay as Basal Diet. Turkish Journal of Agriculture - Food Science and Technology, 11(6), 1067–1073. https://doi.org/10.24925/turjaf.v11i6.1067-1073.5989



Research Paper

Most read articles by the same author(s)