RESEARCHERS at the Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Lethbridge Research Centre in Lethbridge, Alb., have developed a new variety of sainfoin that, when paired with alfalfa in a mixed stand, offers bloat-free alfalfa pasture grazing for cattle.
Development of the new cultivar, tested as LRC 3902, was led by Dr. Surya Acharya of AAFC. With a proposed name of Mountainview, it offers cattle producers a brand new "king" to pair with the so-called "queen of forages," alfalfa, to provide innovative new options and many superior benefits, according to a news release.
Acharya made the new varietal announcement last month at the Alberta Forage Industry Network AGM in Ponoka, Alb.
"This new sainfoin cultivar is truly one of a kind and represents an exciting new opportunity for cattle producers," Acharya said. "It is the first sainfoin cultivar that will survive in alfalfa pasture and grow back at the same rate after cutting or grazing. It will prevent bloat in mixed stands to provide producers with their first real, economically viable option to allow for highly productive, bloat-free alfalfa pasture grazing."
Sainfoin is a high-quality forage legume crop with a condensed tannin concentration that is very effective at preventing deadly pasture bloat in ruminants, the announcement explained. However, until now, sainfoin cultivars have not survived well in alfalfa pasture or grown back after the first cut.
The new cultivar was bred to overcome those two hurdles, and field trials showed that it was successful. It was derived from parental clones selected for improved forage yield in mixed stands with alfalfa and regrowth after cutting.
"The Mountainview cultivar achieves what we set out to accomplish with our sainfoin improvement program," Acharya said. "It grows very well and fits all the criteria cattle producers have required to have a solid, reliable option to support bloat-free alfalfa grazing. This cultivar is well suited for preventing bloat in mixed alfalfa stands without a loss in animal productivity."
Breeder seed for LRC 3902 will be produced at AAFC in Indian Head, Sask., and the multiplication and distribution rights will be awarded through a competitive process. Seed is expected to be available to growers for 2015 seeding.
The forage breeding program at AAFC in Lethbridge has a major focus on the development of innovative, superior new varieties that benefit Canadian cattle producers and their industry.