Skip to main content Accessibility help

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) as an alternative forage for dairy cows

  • A. W. Alemu (a1) and L. Doepel (a1)


Fenugreek is a novel forage crop in Canada that is generating interest as an alternative to alfalfa for dairy cows. To evaluate the value of fenugreek haylage relative to alfalfa haylage, six, second lactation Holstein cows (56 ± 8 days in milk), which were fitted with rumen cannulas (10 cm i.d., Bar Diamond Inc., Parma, ID, USA) were used in a replicated three × three Latin square design with 18-day periods. Diets consisting of 400 g/kg haylage, 100 g/kg barley silage and 500 g/kg concentrate on a dry matter (DM) basis were fed once daily for ad libitum intake. The haylage component constituted the dietary treatments: (i) Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada F70 fenugreek (F70), (ii) Crop Development Center Quatro fenugreek (QUAT) and (iii) alfalfa (ALF). DM intake (DMI), milk yield and milk protein and lactose yields were higher (P < 0.001) for cows fed ALF than fenugreek (FEN, average of F70 and QUAT). Milk fat of cows fed FEN contained lower concentrations of saturated, medium-chain and hypercholestrolemic fatty acids (FAs; P < 0.05) than that of cows fed ALF. Apparent total tract digestibility of DM and nutrients was not affected by treatments. Similarly, individual ruminal volatile FA concentrations and rumen pH (5.9) were not affected by treatments. Rumen ammonia–N concentration was higher for FEN than ALF (P < 0.001). Estimates of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) passage rate (P < 0.05) and NDF turnover rate (P < 0.001) in the rumen were higher for ALF than FEN. Our results suggest that although the digestibility of the FEN diets was not different from that of the ALF diet, fenugreek haylage has a lower feeding value than ALF for lactating dairy cows due in part to lower DMI and subsequently lower milk yield.



Hide All
Acharya, SN, Thomas, JE, Basu, SK 2006. Fenugreek: an “old world” crop for the “new world”. Biodiversity 7, 2730.
Acharya, SN, Thomas, JE, Basu, SK 2008. Fenugreek, an alternative crop for semiarid regions of North America. Crop Science 48, 841853.
Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development 2004. Soil group map of Alberta. Retrieved December 28, 2010, from
Al-Habori, M, Raman, A 1998. Review. Antidiabetic and hypocholesterolaemic effects of fenugreek. Phytotherapy Research 12, 233242.
Allen, MS 2000. Effects of diet on short-term regulation of feed intake by lactating dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science 83, 15981624.
Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) 1990. Official methods of analysis, 15th edition. AOAC, Washington, DC, USA.
Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) 1995. Official methods of analysis, 16th edition. AOAC Int., Gaithersburg, MD, USA.
Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) 2002. Official methods of analysis, 17th edition. AOAC, Arlington, VA, USA.
Basu, SK 2006. Seed production technology for fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) in the Canadian prairies. MSc, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
Bauman, DE, Lock, AL, Corl, BA, Ip, C, Salter, AM, Parodi, PW 2006. Milk fatty acids and human health: potential role of conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids. In Ruminant physiology: digestion, metabolism and impact of nutrition on gene expression, immunology and stress (ed. K Sejrsen, T Hvelplund and MO Nielsen), pp. 529561. Wageningen Academic, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Broca, C, Manteghetti, M, Gross, R, Baissac, Y, Jacob, M, Petit, P, Sauvaire, Y, Ribes, G 2000. 4-Hydroxyisoleucine: effects of synthetic and natural analogues on insulin secretion. European Journal of Pharmacology 390, 339345.
Cameron, MR, Klusmeyer, TH, Lynch, GL, Clark, JH, Nelson, DR 1991. Effects of urea and starch on rumen fermentation, nutrient passage to the duodenum, and performance of cows. Journal of Dairy Science 74, 13211336.
Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) 1993. Guide to the care and use of experimental animals vol. 1, 2nd edition (ed. ED Olfert, BM Cross and AA McWilliam). CCAC, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Das, B, Arora, SK, Luthra, YP 1979. Variability in structural carbohydrates and in vitro digestibility of forages. 4. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-gracum). Animal Feed Science and Technology 4, 1722.
DePeters, EJ, Cant, JP 1992. Nutritional factors influencing the nitrogen composition of bovine milk: a review. Journal of Dairy Science 75, 20432070.
Doepel, L, Lapierre, H, Kennelly, JJ 2002. Peripartum performance and metabolism of dairy cows in response to prepartum energy and protein intake. Journal of Dairy Science 85, 23152334.
Fawcett, JK, Scott, JE 1960. A rapid and precise method for the determination of urea. Journal of Clinical Pathology 13, 156159.
Fenton, TW, Fenton, M 1979. An improved procedure for the determination of chromic oxide in feed and feces. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 59, 563569.
Folch, J, Lees, M, Stanley, GHS 1957. A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipids from animal tissue. Journal of Biological Chemistry 226, 497509.
Grant, RJ, Colenbrander, VF, Mertens, DR 1990. Milk fat depression in dairy cows: role of silage particle size 1. Journal of Dairy Science 73, 18341842.
Holden, LA, Muller, LD, Varga, GA, Hillard, PJ 1994. Ruminal digestion and duodenal nutrient flows in dairy cows consuming grass as pasture, hay, or silage. Journal of Dairy Science 77, 30343042.
Hristov, AN, Price, WJ, Shafii, B 2004. A meta-analysis examining the relationship among dietary factors, dry matter intake, and milk and milk protein yield in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 87, 21842196.
Huhtanen, P, Ahhvenjärvi, S, Weisbjerg, MR, Nørgaard, P 2006. Digestion and passage of fibre in ruminants. In Ruminant physiology: digestion metabolism and impact of nutrition on gene expression, immunology and stress (ed. K Sejrsen, T Hvelplund and MO Nielsen), pp. 87135. Wageningen Academic Publishers, The Netherlands.
Khorasani, GR, Kennelly, JJ 2001. Influence of carbohydrate source and buffer on rumen fermentation characteristics, milk yield, and milk composition in late-lactation Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science 84, 17071716.
Khorasani, GR, Okine, EK, Kennelly, JJ 1996. Forage source alters nutrient supply to the intestine without influencing milk yield. Journal of Dairy Science 79, 862872.
Khorasani, GR, Okine, EK, Kennelly, JJ 2001. Effects of substituting barley grain with corn on ruminal fermentation characteristics, milk yield, and milk composition of Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science 84, 27602769.
Kononoff, PJ, Heinrichs, AJ 2003. The effect of reducing alfalfa haylage particle size on cows in early lactation. Journal of Dairy Science 86, 14451457.
Kramer, JKG, Blackadar, CB, Zhou, J 2002. Evaluation of two GC columns (60-m SUPELCOWAX 10 and 100-m CP Sil 88) for analysis of milk fat with emphasis on CLA, 18:1, 18:2 and 18:3 isomers, and short- and long-chain FA. Lipids 37, 823835.
Mir, PS, Mir, Z, Townley-Smith, L 1993. Comparison of the nutrient content and in situ degradability comparisons of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) and alfalfa hays. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 73, 993996.
Mir, Z, Acharya, SN, Mir, PS, Taylor, WG, Zaman, MS, Mears, GJ 1997. Nutrient composition, in vitro gas production and digestibility of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) and alfalfa forages. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 77, 119124.
Mir, Z, Mir, PS, Acharya, SN, Zaman, MS, Tayior, WG, Mears, GJ, McAllister, TA, Goonewardene, LA 1998. Comparison of alfalfa and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) silage supplemented with barely grain on performance of growing steers. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 78, 343349.
Montgomery, J 2009. The potential of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) as a forage for dairy herds in central Alberta. MSc, University of Alberta, AB, Canada.
Moyer, JR, Acharya, SN, Mir, Z, Doram, RC 2003. Weed management in irrigated fenugreek grown for forage in rotation with other annual crops. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 83, 181188.
Mustafa, AF, Christensen, DA, McKinnon, JJ 1996. In vitro and in situ evaluation of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) hay and straw. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 76, 625626.
National Research Council (NRC) 2001. Nutrient requirement of dairy cattle, 7th revised edition. National Academic Science, Washington, DC, USA.
Nousiainen, J, Shingfield, KJ, Huhtanen, P 2004. Evaluation of milk urea nitrogen as a diagnostic of protein feeding. Journal of Dairy Science 87, 386398.
Oba, M, Allen, MS 1999. Evaluation of the importance of the digestibility of neutral detergent fiber from forage: Effects on dry matter intake and milk yield of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 82, 589596.
Oelker, ER, Reveneau, C, Firkins, JL 2009. Interaction of molasses and monensin in alfalfa hay- or corn silage-based diets on rumen fermentation, total tract digestibility, and milk production by Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science 92, 270285.
Palmquist, DL, Lock, AL, Shingfield, KJ, Bauman, DE 2005. Biosynthesis of conjugated linoleic acid in ruminants and humans. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 50, 179218.
Penner, GB, Beauchemin, KA, Mutsvangwa, T 2006. An evaluation of the accuracy and precision of a stand-alone submersible continuous ruminal pH measurement system. Journal of Dairy Science 89, 21322140.
Petropoulos, GA 2002. Fenugreek – the genus Trigonella. Taylor and Francis, London, UK.
Robinson, PH, Kennelly, JJ 1989. Influence of ammoniation of high moisture barley on digestibility, kinetics of rumen ingesta turnover, and milk production in dairy cows. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 69, 195203.
Robinson, PH, Tamminga, S, Van Vuuren, AM 1987. Influence of declining level of feed intake and varying the proportion of starch in the concentrate in rumen ingesta quality, composition and kinetics of ingesta turnover in dairy cows. Livestock Production Science 17, 3762.
Statistical Analysis Software Inc. (SAS) 2002. SAS® user's guide: statistics, version 9.1 for window. SAS Inc., Cary, NC, USA.
Shah, MA, Mir, PS 2004. Effect of fenugreek seed on dairy cow performance and milk characteristics. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 84, 725729.
Sharma, RD, Raghuram, TC, Rao, NS 1990. Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and serum lipids in type I diabetes. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 44, 301306.
Silveira, C, Oba, M, Beauchemin, KA, Helm, J 2007. Effect of grains differing in expected ruminal fermentability on the productivity of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 90, 28522859.
Srichamroen, A 2007. Hypoglycemic and hypolipedemic effects of galactomanan from fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) grown in Canada. PhD, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Stadtman, TC 1957. Preparation of assay of cholesterol and ergosterol. Methods in Enzymology. VIII. New York Academic Press, USA.
Steinberg, D, Parthasarathy, S, Carew, TE, Khoo, JC, Witztum, JL 1989. Beyond cholesterol. Modifications of low-density lipoprotein that increase its atherogenicity. New England Journal of Medicine 320, 915924.
Taylor, WG, Zaman, MS, Mir, Z, Mir, PS, Acharya, SN, Mears, GJ, Elder, JL 1997. Analysis of steroidal sapogenins from amber fenugreek (Trigonella Foenum-graecum) by capillary gas chromatography and combined gas chromatography/mass spectrometery. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 45, 753759.
Upadhyay, VS, Gupta, SC, Rekib, A 1977. Nutritional evaluation of fodder metha (Trigonella foenum-graecum) by in vitro and in vivo technique. Indian Veterinary Journal 54, 4649.
Van Soest, PJ 1994. Nutritional ecology of ruminants, 2nd edition. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, USA.
Van Soest, PJ, Robertson, JB, Lewis, BA 1991. Methods for dietary fibre, neutral detergent fibre and non-starch polysaccharide in relation to animal nutrition. Journal of Dairy Science 74, 35833597.
Wrolstad, RE, Durst, RW, Lee, J 2005. Tracking color and pigment changes in anthocyanin products. Trends in Food Science Technology 16, 423428.
Yu, S, Derr, J, Etherton, TD, Kris-Etherton, PM 1995. Review; Plasma cholesterol-predictive equations demonstrate that stearic acid is neutral and monounsaturated fatty acids are hypocholesteroleamic. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61, 11291139.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) as an alternative forage for dairy cows

  • A. W. Alemu (a1) and L. Doepel (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.