Alfalfa hay does not negatively impact performance outcomes in broilers during coccidiosis challenge

  • Krysten Fries-Craft (Iowa State University)
  • Elizabeth Bobeck (Iowa State University)


The use of alfalfa and similar forages in poultry products is often limited due to the detrimental effects of high-fiber ingredients on non-ruminant animal performance. Despite this, inclusion of alfalfa hay, specifically late-cutting hay, may confer health benefits that protect against the damaging effects of coccidiosis in poultry. The study objective was to examine performance outcomes in Ross 708 broilers fed 5% 5th-cutting alfalfa hay during a coccidiosis challenge. A total of 144 birds were assigned to a corn-soybean meal control or diet with 5% inclusion of ground 5th cutting alfalfa hay for 42d divided into 14d starter, grower, and finisher periods. At 14d, half of the birds were orally inoculated with 10X Coccivac® B-52 vaccine with a 2x2 factorial treatment arrangement of diet and inoculation. Body weight (BW) and feed intake (FI) was recorded weekly to calculate average performance outcomes. Prior to inoculation, 5% alfalfa did not negatively impact performance but increased week 2 FI by 5.1% (P = 0.04). As expected, coccidiosis reduced performance in week 3 (P < 0.05). Alfalfa inclusion did not alter coccidiosis-induced performance outcomes; however, numerical differences observed in non-inoculated birds supports future research into the benefits of feeding late-cutting alfalfa and its products to poultry.

How to Cite:

Fries-Craft, K. & Bobeck, E., (2021) “Alfalfa hay does not negatively impact performance outcomes in broilers during coccidiosis challenge”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 17(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/air.11913

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Published on
06 Feb 2021
Peer Reviewed