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Pea-Cereal Mixtures for Greenfeed and Silage Production

Updated: Jun 27

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

Location: Fairview Research Farm

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2020 Annual Report

Funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership - Government of Alberta

The use of annual crops for feed production offers producers an alternative cropping choice. It offers them flexibility, no deferral for a year of establishment, and no fear of winterkill losses. Pulse-cereal mixtures may be one of the suitable annual forage choices. In pulse-cereal mixtures, pulses such as peas and fababeans are usually included to improve quality of the feed. To improve annual cereal and legume forages utilization as hay, green feed, or silage and to develop supplementation programs for forage-based nutrition, it is important to know how the nutritional values of different forages match up with beef cow needs. This study was part of the regional silage variety trials in Alberta. In addition to the report presented here, results from this site and other parts of the province for the pea-cereal mixtures will also be reported in the Alberta Seed Guide (

This study examines forage yield and quality of pulse-cereal mixtures with forage pea and faba bean varieties.


Experimental Site: Fairview Research Farm (NW-5-82-3-W6M) on RR #35, MD of Fairview.

Site soil information from 0-6” depth at seeding: pH = 6.2, organic matter = 4.7% and electrical conductivity = 0.21 (dS/m).

Cropping history: Before the fall of 2018, when the site was sprayed out with Roundup at 1.0 L/acre and tilled, the previous crop was alfalfa hay crop for over 15 years.

Experimental design: A randomized complete block design was used.

Treatments (15 in total): 3 spring cereal monocultures (barley, oats, and triticale) and 12 pulse/cereal mixtures were tested in four replications in small plots measuring 8 m x 2 m.

The monocultures and mixtures tested are listed below:

1. Austenson barley monoculture

2. Austenson barley/Jasper pea

3. Austenson barley/Meadow pea

4. Austenson barley/Snowbird fababean

5. Austenson barley/Tesoro fababean

6. Baler oat monoculture

7. Baler oat/Jasper pea

8. Baler oat/Meadow pea

9. Baler oat/Snowbird fababean

10. Baler oat/Tesoro fababean

11. Taza triticale monoculture

12. Taza triticale/Jasper pea

13. Taza triticale/Meadow pea

14. Taza triticale/Snowbird fababean

15. Taza triticale/Tesoro fababean

Seeding Rate: barley & oat [300 plants/m2 (27.8 plants/ft2)], Triticale [370 plants/m2 (34.3 plants/ft2)] and pea/cereal mixture [75% peas & 50% cereal].

Seeding date was May 28 and the legumes were inoculated at seeding.

Fertility (actual lbs/acre): 50 lbs of 12-52-0 fertilizer.

Spraying: pre-emergent (StartUp glyphosate + LI surfactant); in-crop (Basagran Forte at 0.80 L/acre).

For the pulse-cereal mixtures, seed was weighed and mixed in an envelope prior to seeding. A mixed row seeding method was used for the mixtures.

Measurements include: plant lodging rating a day before harvest, forage dry matter (DM) yield, and feed quality at A & L Laboratory, Ontario.


Lodging and Forage Dry Matter Yield

Monoculture oats and oats/meadow peas had some significant lodging recorded. Barley monoculture also recorded some lodging. Triticale and triticale mixtures did not encounter any form of lodging.

Triticale monoculture (8805 lbs/acre) produced the highest forage DM yield of any cereal monocultures (Figure 1). Both barley and oat monocultures were very close in forage DM yield. For the pulse-cereal mixtures, triticale/meadow peas and triticale/tesoro faba bean produced higher forage DM yield than other mixtures. In general, for any particular legume tested, triticale mixtures produced higher forage DM yield than barley and oat mixtures. On a general note, there appeared to be greater forage DM yield advantage from mixtures over their respective cereal monoculture stands.

Forage Quality (Table 1)

For the monocultures, protein was highest for triticale (11.1% CP), followed by barley (10.0% CP), and then oats (9.21% CP). Barley/fababean mixtures had the highest forage protein in this study. In general, mixtures had higher CP than their respective cereal monocultures. Of all the monocultures and mixtures tested, oats had the lowest CP content. Comparing the CP contents to the requirements of a mature beef cow, all monocultures and mixtures would be considered to have met the 7% CP needed by a cow in mid pregnancy and 9% CP for late pregnancy. Several mixtures and triticale monocultures had adequate CP for mature beef cows with calves (11%).

Forage Ca was higher for barley monoculture than oat and triticale monocultures. In some instances, mixing cereals with pulses (peas or fababean) seemed to improve forage Ca content greatly. The Ca requirements have been met by all monocultures and mixtures.

Forage P did not vary much between monocultures and mixtures, and P from all cropping treatments was adequate for mature pregnant cows.

Forage K was generally above 1.0% for the monocultures and mixtures tested. As expected, all monocultures and mixtures far exceeded the requirements of mature beef cattle.

Mg did not exceed 0.28% for the monocultures and mixtures. All monocultures and mixtures had enough Mg for a dry gestating beef cow.

Most monocultures and mixtures had far less than 0.10% Na needed by a mature beef cow at different physiological stages. However, most monocultures and mixtures were within the 0.06-0.08% Na recommended for a dry gestating beef cow.

Forage energy (TDN) from all monocrops and mixtures was generally adequate for pregnant beef cows, with the cropping treatments varying from about 60-70% TDN.

With the exception of triticale monoculture, which had higher NDFD 24-hr value than all pulse-triticale mixtures, cereal monocultures (barley and oats) tended to have lower NDFD 24-hr values than their respective mixtures. For NDFD 48-hr, far higher values were derived from Austenson barley/Snowbird fababean (83.6%), Baler oat/Snowbird fababean (86.9%) and Taza triticale monoculture (85.5%) than other cereal monocultures and pulse-cereal mixtures.


The use of annual crops for feed production offers farmers an alternative cropping choice. It offers them flexibility, no deferral for a year of establishment, and no fear of winterkill losses. Pulse-cereal mixtures may be one of the suitable annual forage choices. Pulse crops may be a desirable choice in annual cropping systems because they are an on-farm source of protein. Though there was no immense forage yield advantage from mixtures over the respective cereal monocrop stands, but mixtures of peas or faba beans with cereals have been found to have higher protein levels than cereal monocrop stands. In the present study, pulse-cereal mixtures with Meadow peas and Tesoro faba beans showed greater forage potential than mixtures with Jasper peas and Snowbird faba beans. Producers should note that because of the lateness of both faba beans, they both generally had a high moisture content at harvest.


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