HealthyHay Project

The EU sainfoin research project, Healthy Hay, was a four year project involving 12 partners from across Europe. The project sought to research fully all the benefits of sainfoin and reinvent its role in modern farming. Underpinning the project was the belief that there is a valuable future for this legume with its unique combination of tannins and protein.  

The €3.5m project was initiated by Dr Irene Mueller-Harvey of Reading University in the UK, coordinated by Professor Karl Stich from the Technical University of Vienna, Austria and generously funded by the Marie Curie Research Training Network. Twelve partners from across Europe were involved, with researchers and experts from these academic institutions and commercial organisations contributing.

Detailed Sainfoin research

The Healthy Hay project identified 362 different sainfoins.  Using the most promising of these varieties, further experimentation was carried out looking at the following:

  • Genetic analysis
  • Agronomic evaluations
  • Biological and chemical evaluations
  • Animal nutrition
  • Environmental assessment
  • Anti-parasitic benefits
  • Developing methodologies for sainfoin screening 

All partners worked closely together by exchanging samples, results, techniques and know-how. This generated research synergies, which could not have been obtained at a purely national level. Sufficient plant material was produced for chemical and biochemical analysis and for in vitro and in sacco evaluations that investigated the effects of accessions, site, maturity and conservation on nutritional, environmental and anti-parasitic effects. Feeding trials evaluated total tract digestibilities of organic matter and nitrogen, environmental emissions and antiparasitic effects of a few selected sainfoin varieties.

The results of the research are published on this website.