What Animals Eat Alfalfa? A Look At Wild and Farm Animals

Animals that consume alfalfa include cows, horses, goats, deer, and also a number of wild animals such as coyotes.

Alfalfa is a rich source of protein and vitamins for many herbivores. Alfalfa hay is a good type of fodder because it stores well and can be given to livestock year-round without going bad.

In addition, alfalfa contains high amounts of calcium which may help reduce milk fever in dairy cattle since it’s their main food throughout winter months when pasture grasses have been depleted.

Wild animals eat alfalfa

Some wild animals eat alfalfa. Alfalfa is a good source of nutrients for these animals and can help to improve their health.

In addition to humans, many animal species will eat alfalfa. A number of rabbits and hares feed on alfalfa throughout the year including red-back jackrabbit, white-sided jackrabbit, hispid hare, and black-tailed jackrabbit. Other animals that eat alfalfa include porcupines, skunks, raccoons, bears, elk, and moose.

One of the most common examples is deer. Deer are able to find alfalfa in agricultural fields and may often consume it while grazing. Deer will often eat both alfalfa and grass with little preference for one or the other. Deer also consume many different types of crops, including corn, sorghum, peanuts, soybeans, cotton, tobacco, and carrots.

Mammals that eat alfalfa

  • Cottontail Rabbits
  • Jackrabbit
  • Mouse
  • Vole
  • Woodchuck
  • Porcupine
  • Skunk
  • Raccoon
  • Bear
  • Elk
  • Moose
  • Cow
  • Horse
  • Deer
  • Bison

Birds that eat alfalfa

  • Bluebird
  • Bunting
  • Blackbird
  • Bobwhite Quail

Where does alfalfa grow

Alfalfa has been grown commercially in North America for more than 100 years with production peaking from 1910 to 1920 at 2 million tons per year before declining dramatically during the Great Depression.

Today, alfalfa is still a major crop in California and the Western United States, but also grown in many other parts of the world.

Edible parts of alfalfa

The leaves, flowers and pods of the alfalfa plant are all edible and can be consumed raw or cooked. The young shoots can be eaten as a green vegetable, and can also be harvested from the plant to allow it to grow back.

Characteristics of alfalfa

Also known as lucerne, alfalfa is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world. It was first domesticated around 2000 BC when it was developed in Persia (modern day Iran). Today 50 million acres of land are used to grow alfalfa worldwide with the United States being the top producer.

Alfalfa is a perennial legume that is typically grown for hay or pasture. It is a cool season crop that can be grown in a variety of climates, but does best in temperate regions. Alfalfa is a drought tolerant crop and can survive on as little as 6 inches of rain per year. The plant grows best in well-drained soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 8.5.

Alfalfa is an erect non-tap rooted perennial that grows 1 to 5 feet tall depending on the variety. The stems are hairy, with leaves divided into three leaflets. Flowers are pink or purple in color, pea-like, and grow in racemes consisting of 10 to 30 flowers each. Seed pods are long, thin, and papery measuring 4 to 8 inches in length. Seeds are small, hard, and black.

Alfalfa is a high quality feed for livestock and is used to produce hay, silage, and green chop.

Nutritional value of alfalfa

Alfalfa is a high-quality forage for livestock and is an excellent source of protein, minerals, and vitamins. The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant and are highest in protein (20%), calcium (1.5%), and magnesium (0.7%). Alfalfa is also high in potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, manganese, sulfur and other micronutrients.

Alfalfa hay is also a good source of energy, with a crude protein content of 9-16% and a total digestible nutrient (TDN) content of 60-64%. Alfalfa is also a good source of vitamin A for animals.

Livestock that consume alfalfa hay typically have increased weight gain, improved bone structure, reproduction performance, and milk production.

How to feed alfalfa to animals

Alfalfa is a good crop to include in a pasture mix because it fixes nitrogen in the soil, helping to improve the fertility of the land. In fact, alfalfa is often used as a green manure to improve soil quality and help reduce the need for fertilizer. Alfalfa is also a good source of organic matter, which helps to improve the structure and water-holding capacity of soils.


Alfalfa is a plant that grows in many different climates. It can be grown as a food crop or for animal feed and has been used to make hay over the centuries. Animal species such as horses, cows, sheep, goats, deer, and bison all eat alfalfa on occasion but it’s not their regular diet. Dogs also enjoy eating this nutritious green fodder from time-to-time.