The Alka-System was devised by nutritionist Alan Sayle as a dietary antidote to counter the underlying health problems, namely lameness and acidosis, associated with feeding high genetic merit dairy cattle fermented forages. His solution was to conserve high dry matter mature cereals in an Alkaline state.
He formulated the ammonia releasing agent Home n’Dry in the late 1980’s and the first Alkalage forage was fed to dairy cattle in Shropshire in 1989. The introduction of the small grain cereal processor in the late 1990’s revolutionised the concept and as a consequence the Alka-System has gone from strength to strength. In recent years Alkalages have been complemented by the addition of Alkastraw and Alkagrain and the Alka-Feedstuffs family is set to grow further with the development of Alkachaff and Alkapellets . The system has now been adopted throughout the world.
Why Mature Cereals?
High dry matter alkaline forages and concentrates have several unique features, including pronounced animal health characteristics. They are perfect complements to diets containing wet forages. That said they can also be fed alongside grazed grass or as stand-alone feed-stuffs.
Mature cereal crops offer the greatest flexibility and harvest options, including high fibre forages, forage concentrates and conventional grain harvests. They also offer the longest harvest windows with the simplest of storage opportunities. No specialised storage equipment is needed.
Green harvests limit a crops potential both as a feeding stuff and barn filler whereas golden harvests reap every possibility.
The table opposite clearly demonstrates the significant increase in grain and subsequent energy yields associated with mature harvesting.
On farm dry matter and energy outputs are maximised by making Alkalages and Alkagrains from mature cereals. These high dry matter feed stuffs minimise subsequent animal production and feeding costs.