Interesting Facts about Alfalfa

Ice scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! But did you know that alfalfa helps to make ice cream? Dairy cows eat alfalfa so that’s how it plays a part in the delicious treat!

Alfalfa is a forage legume. A legume is a type of plant that grows in a pod. Other legumes include beans, peanuts and peas. Alfalfa can grow up to 36 inches high and has an extremely deep root system. This root system is what allows it to survive exceptionally difficult conditions such as drought. On average, alfalfa lives six years.

Alfalfa is considered the ideal forage for dairy cows. Dairy cows today can produce 60 percent more milk per cow than 50 years ago. This can be directly attributed to the fact that dairy cows are now fed high quality, nutrition-packed alfalfa hay.

While most people know what alfalfa is, they don’t know some of the more interesting facts about it. Read on to learn more about this fascinating plant.

  1. Alfalfa has been domesticated for approximately 6,000 years. Some of the oldest remains were found in Iran.
  2. The name alfalfa comes from Arabic words meaning best horse fodder or horse power.
  3. In every pound of alfalfa you will find 200,000 seeds.
  4. Honey is made from alfalfa. It is the flowers on the alfalfa plant that help to make honey.
  5. Over 130 bird species visit alfalfa fields.
  6. The alfalfa crops can be cut up to 11 times and can last in the field 25 years.
  7. Alfalfa is often fed to zoo animals.
  8. Some endangered species, and hundreds of other animals, use alfalfa for their habitat.
  9. The early colonists, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, grew a few acres of alfalfa on their farms but it wasn’t widely grown in the United States until 1849.
  10. The U.S. produces over 57 million tons of alfalfa each year. California is the largest producer of alfalfa in the United States, followed by Idaho and Montana.
  11. There are several varieties of alfalfa and alfalfa breeders have developed some that are extremely resistant to insects and pests. This resistance reduces the need for pesticides.

Alfalfa is prized by livestock producers around the globe for its high nutrient content. And now you known some fun facts about this perennial legume that does much more than just feed dairy cows!