alfalfa hay, also known as lucerne hay, which is a nutrient-packed legume hay with a high protein content, suitable for poor-doers, youngstock and horses in hard work TOP TIP Legumes are different from grasses in that they contain productive bacteria in … For horses, alfalfa and clover are the two legume hays that are most commonly fed. Experts in horse nutrition recognize alfalfa as a high protein, mineral rich forage but few look at the energetic properties of this hay for horses. Hay needs air circulating to keep it healthy. A study conducted at Cornell University showed that when given a choice, horses preferred untreated alfalfa to alfalfa that was treated with a mixture of propionic and acetic acid. Common grass hay includes orchard grass, timothy and coastal Bermuda, less common are bromegrass and fescue. Some say there's nothing better. Legume hay - ie, soybean hay, peanut hay, alfalfa, clover, pea, can all be good to excellent - they can also be poor to pathetic. Depending on the area of the country in which it is grown, oat hay can be low in protein and contain only marginal calcium, phosphorus and carotene." If you ask most horses they will tell you that alfalfa is a wonderful horse feed. For more information about Holistic Horse care check out Holistic Horsekeeping, This is a little blog about my move to Fischer, Texas, the horses, and other miscellaneous personal stuff that I don't normally get the share in my newsletters. Good alfalfa hay for horses should be leafy, with minimum stems and bright green in color. For example, digestive upsets may be an even bigger problem, especially in the spring and fall when wide temperature swings can lead to rapid changes in the composition of the plant. Horses and ponies in their natural environment are grazing animals - they spend many hours a day eating grass. Most adult horses seem to tolerate this, but it's not ideal for pregnant mares and growing horses. Alfalfa is also rich in vitamin k and bioflavanoids. Give a horse the opportunity to choose among flakes of all-grass hay, grass-alfalfa mix, and all-alfalfa, chances are he will chow down the alfalfa flake first. Poor quality alfalfa may be used for pellets and any pelleting will destroy much of the whole food value of alfalfa while maintaining the high protein levels. Alfalfa is rich in protein which is made up of the building blocks amino acids. A good price on a product comes from 1. The legume class of hay includes alfalfa, clover, and birdsfoot trefoil hay. Myth: Alfalfa cannot be fed to HYPP horses because of the high potassium. Desperate Seller 4. We don?t really know exactly why, but research bears this. Myth: The high protein in alfalfa causes osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), a joint disease of young horses.Fact: High protein does not cause OCD. Inferior Product 2. Fresh alfalfa hay is the best to use as a horse feed. However, extra protein is metabolized to ammonia, which must be excreted by the kidneys. Horses who are overweight and not in work can gain additional weight and develop behavior problems relating to excess energy. Alfalfa is quite delicious, and horse will readily eat it. Fact: Grass hays can be high in potassium too. I talk about why Alfalfa Hay is good for horses. Learn how to control their diet while making sure they get all the nutrition they need. The roots of the alfalfa plant can reach 100 feet into the ground so it can reach minerals that are absent in shallow soils. It provides informa-tion on purchasing, storing, and feeding The increased concentration of protein in legume hay can greatly increase the energy for a … There are a few caveats, but the key is balance. Fact: Alfalfa is no more likely to cause an allergic reaction than any other type of hay. Horse Nutrition: Alfalfa hay for horses is a very rich horse feed containing ample protein, beta carotene, chlorophyll and trace minerals. Most horses love this leafy, green hay. Horses without teeth still want to chew on fiber. As are peanuts, and all are members of the pea family. Low NSC is common in alfalfa since legumes store carbohydrates as starch. But then I come here, and see folks suggesting alfalfa pellets or cubes for forage, and the like. Fresh alfalfa hay is the best to use as a horse feed. I hope you enjoy these often humorous posts as I explore the journey of moving out to the country and will post replies and share your own experiences! Having an alfalfa-grass mixed pasture may not help much because there's a good chance that the horses will seek out and eat the alfalfa first, exclusively. It is higher in calcium which can be good and bad. Thus, this hay didn’t need soaking for horses with PSSM and laminitis. Pellets and cubes should be green, not brown or black on the outside. THREE BENEFITS OF FEEDING ALFALFA TO HORSES: Alfalfa is a high protein forage, so it makes an excellent supplement for horses that are protein deficient or for horses that have higher protein ... Alfalfa is nutritionally dense. When an alfalfa crop is properly cared for, baled, and stored, the high leaf to stem ratio can provide a very high quality forage product. Veterinarians recommend adding some long stemmed soft leafy alfalfa hay to the horse's diet. The cause isn't entirely clear, but it may be related to alfalfa having more sugar in the form of glucose, and higher starch. Therefore, less alfalfa hay may be fed to meet energy requirements. The ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio for a young horse is between 1.5 to 2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. Because of its taste appeal, higher digestibility, and the fact it is easier to chew, it is often a valuable addition to the diet of sick horses or senior horses. High quality ("dairy") alfalfa supplies 20% to 25% more calories per pound than grass hays, although the difference is much smaller for more mature cuts of alfalfa. Horses become overweight for the same reason we do—they eat more calories than they burn. The simple answer is “no,” since alfalfa hay is an excellent source of protein, calories, calcium and Vitamin A for horses. and good roughage value.Well-preserved alfalfa hay should be the foundation of a feeding program for young growing horses, recreational horses, and active horses.This publica-tion describes the horse’s digestive system and nutritional needs and how to select alfalfa hay. Bran mashes will not protect your horse's digestive health. The major quality issue to be concerned with is overheating during processing, which will damage the protein. "Fact: For reasons that really aren't clear, some horses are more energetic when being fed alfalfa--but it isn't the protein.Myth: Alfalfa causes heaves or allergies.Fact: Alfalfa is no more likely to cause an allergic reaction than any other type of hay. If you use alfalfa as your sole hay type, just be sure to get advice from a nutrition professional on how to properly balance your feeding program. What kind to buy? For a underweight horse, you should feed it a high-protein hay like alfalfa … Wild horses also get a lot more exercise than domesticated horses, which is important to good gut function. Rather, low protein is a risk factor for OCD. Poor quality alfalfa may be used for pellets and any pelleting will destroy much of the whole food value of alfalfa while maintaining the high protein levels. Alfalfa hay may not be the best feed for all horses in all situations, but it contains nutrients needed for many classes of horses. Rice bran or wheat bran confer few health benefits for horses and carry some risks. Horses will drink more, leading to wetter and smellier stalls. It isn't a perfect food, but alfalfa can be a good staple in the horse's diet. Horses have evolved to handle a wide variety of vegetation in their diet, but with a few key differences between the feral horse and the domesticated horse. While the lower relative nutrition level of grass hay makes it a good filler, it does have relatively more carbohydrates. But alfalfa also isn’t for every horse—when making a decision about whether to incorporate alfalfa into your feeding program, it’s important … The difference between good hay and poor hay is often in the harvesting. Due to alfalfa's high protein content, excess protein will be burned as a fuel and the waste is eliminated in the urine as urea, which is convert- ed to ammonia. Alfalfa hay will not meet all of the young horse’s nutrient requirements, however. In fact, depending on when they were cut, they could be even higher. As we come into spring here's what I have and why I have leftovers. Switching hay type abruptly may be risky for horses with a history of colic, so it's smart to gradually mix in the new hay with the old over a couple of weeks. According to Dr. Getty, "Oat hay is an excellent feed for horses. Clinical measures of the horses' wellbeing were not affected by consumption of preservative-treated hay, indicating that the hay had no negative effects on the horses. It is now also possible to buy alfalfa haylage. Hi-Fi Lite combines alfalfa and high-quality soft straw with a light molasses coating. In fact, depending on when they were cut, they could be even higher. Try putting your alfalfa bale on an empty feed bag before you open the bale, and feed the small pieces that fall out in the feed trough or bucket. Pregnant and lactating mares benefit from being fed an alfalfa/Timothy mix- it helps them make milk, and it gives the developing foal the calcium and phosphorous that it needs. There are many areas of the country where alfalfa is more readily available than grass hays and very reasonably priced. It needs a low enough moisture level so that it doesn't mold, without being put up so dry that all its leaves shatter and fall off. This higher content of protein and calcium can come with problems. And unlimited access to such a highly palatable food as alfalfa may lead to significant weight gain. A horse ranging freely in search of food consumes nutrients such as carbohydrates and fats in a very diluted form because grasses and other plants are at least 75 percent water. The high calcium content of alfalfa causes an imbalanced calcium/phosphorus ratio if not corrected by other feeds or supplements. Cubed and pelleted alfalfa tends to be very high quality. To order any of the products mentioned in this post or other  products for you or your horses, please visit my online store. Alfalfa buffers stomach acid for up to 6 hours after it is consumed which makes it an ideal horse feed for working horses subject to stomach ulcers. It is harvested before it becomes too mature so that the cubes and pellets hold together well. Legume hay is higher in protein and calcium than grass hay is. Keep in mind that alfalfa usually has more energy per equal weight of a grass or mixed (grass/legume) hay. The Downside Insulin-resistant horses prone to laminitis may be sensitive to alfalfa. Horse Nutrition: The high levels of protein, calcium and simple sugars in alfalfa can be a disadvantage if it is not balanced out with less nutritious foods that contain phosphorous. Older horses with bad teeth can benefit from these enzymes even if they just mouth the hay but don’t actually swallow it. While alfalfa is an excellent source of calcium, it generally falls short when it comes to phosphorus. Adequate mineral levels, in correct proportions, is the key.Myth: Alfalfa's high protein causes kidney problems.Fact: High protein is not harmful to the kidneys. Hay & haylage. Supply fiber in the diet of all older horses, as soft hay or even beet pulp, an excellent fiber and energy source. Some Advantages Horses love it! Timothy, Orchard, Alfalfa, Fescue. No argument there. Alfalfa is a good source of nutrients for sport horses, but owners might want to avoid offering it when horses are working hard in hot weather, … Legume hays for horses - alfalfa and clover. It has a bitter flavor which helps detoxify the body. The high levels of calcium in alfalfa can lead to the formation of enteroliths in the intestines of some horses. Others view it as a kind of poison. Ignorant Seller 3. This means that grass hay, not alfalfa hay, is a more dangerous food for an obese horse, or a horse with laminitis concerns. There are many horses who need extra calcium or protein in their diets, and alfalfa is an excellent natural source of those nutrients. the horses on kalua ranch in Hawaii are fed bags full of those cubes. Madalyn, Holistic Horse Care: How to Deal With the “No Drug” Rules for Horse Shows, Horseman’s Health: Digestive Help for the Holidays, Holistic Horsekeeping Newsletter December 2020, Horseman’s Wealth: Don’t Give Up on your Dream. There are a few caveats, but the key here is balance. A forage test will tell you. Alfalfa has a neutral thermal nature which means it does not create a heating or cooling effect in the body. If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, let me know by leaving a comment below. Horse Nutrition: Pros of alfalfa as a horse feed, Contains enzymes which aid in assimilation of protein, fats and carbohydrates, High in calcium, beta carotene, chlorophyll, vitamins and trace minerals, Horse Nutrition: Cons of alfalfa as a horse feed, Excess energy content and mineral imbalance not good for growing horses, Enterolith formation in the intestines of some horses, Overall the pros of alfalfa as a horse feed out weigh the disadvantages but its high nutrient content makes if unsuitable for most non working horses. Fresh alfalfa hay contains enzymes which help break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Adequate fiber intake is vital for a healthy digestive tract in all horses. Molds growing in the bales can cause respiratory tract symptoms, but the same molds can--and do--grow in any type of hay.Myth: Alfalfa cannot be fed to HYPP horses because of the high potassium.Fact: Grass hays can be high in potassium too. The high calcium also causes hormonal shifts that make it difficult for the horse to rapidly mobilize calcium from bone stores in times of need. Feeding apple cider vinegar will help prevent stone formation if alfalfa is the only hay available. It contains more nutrients than grass hay including protein, calcium, and energy. © 2020 by Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc., an Active Interest Media company. To handle this extra demand, the horse will drink more water and make more urine.Myth: Alfalfa's high protein makes a horse "hot. Let's look at the pros and cons of alfalfa, and explore some of the myths. Since this is where the bulk of the nutrition is, this can be a considerable loss. High-alfalfa/low-grain diets have been linked to the formation of enteroliths ("stones") in the intestinal tract, which can cause colic and may need to be surgically removed. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between. You can motivate your horse and keep your fingers intact by following the equine research foundation's positive reinforcement methods. Horse hay comes in two forms: grass and legumes. Okay, so call me clueless or just brainwashed or somethin ( ), but I grew up ALWAYS with the impression that alfalfa, straight alfalfa, is not good for most easy-keeper, in moderate work horses.That it was ONLY for high-octane, performance, worked 7 days a week horses. Good quality alfalfa hay is one of the most palatable and digestible forage sources that can be offered to any class of horse. Prior to soaking, both alfalfa hays were below 10 percent NSC (Table 1). It isn’t a “perfect” food, but alfalfa can be a good staple in the horse’s diet. In this case feed a slurry of complete pelleted feed and/or mashed alfalfa pellets. Although haylage can have a higher nutritional value than hay, if good quality hay is in short supply it is better to feed haylage, and make sure your horse is getting enough forage in their diet, rather than providing a lesser amount of hay. Instilling good manners is the essential first step. Alfalfa has lower indigestible fiber than grass hays. If you choose to feed alfalfa always keep in mind that a little bit goes a long and don’t overfeed it. Alfalfa is most beneficial for horses with high energy needs due to their moderate to high level of exertion. Basically just dumped out in a 20 or 30 foot long trough. There are many types of hay harvested from grasses including alfalfa, timothy, clover and rye. Both grass hays had NSC levels above 12 percent. Many horse owners advise that Alfalfa hay is the best kind of hay to feed a horse. Grazing on an alfalfa pasture requires the same precautions as feeding alfalfa hay, plus some additional considerations. Credit: asset_upload_file377_6647.jpg asset_upload_file377_6647.jpg. Horses are designed to eat fiber. Alfalfa hay has been both heralded and maligned as a feed for horses. It isn't any healthier for them than it is for us. Alfalfa is also affordable in most areas. Protein, on the other hand, is an inefficient source of energy for horses. This is counter intuitive for most horse people, but is certainly something to keep in mind in regards to your horse. Alfalfa is also a rich source of calcium. Alfalfa is tasty to horses. Good alfalfa hay for horses should be leafy, with minimum stems and bright green in color. Hay hay and more hay. When making seasonal adjustments to your horse's diet, you'll need to give his digestive tract time to adapt. To help you formulate your horse’s diet based on the best information available, we debunk 7 common myths about equine nutrition. Hay Stacking. For example, Alfalfa contains 21.2% protein and 11% simple starches. Alfalfa is not a good feed for growing horses as it will allow them to grow too rapidly and bone development can be affected by the imbalance of calcium and phosphorous. Feeding your horse a high-protein diet may not be the right way to go for increased performance. A good hay for a nervous horse would be grass hay, NOT alfalfa because alfalfa would get him even more jumpy. Fiber is provided by roughage sources such as hay, chaff, pasture, and beet pulp. It makes particular sense to introduce alfalfa hay gradually, because an abrupt switch from purely grass hay to alfalfa often seems to … Alfalfa can be trickier to cure and bale than grass hays. Poor timing of harvest processes or bad harvesting conditions can render a good hay crop poor or unsafe for horses… Heavily pregnant or lactating mares, and young rapidly growing horses, benefit from alfalfa's high protein content. Grasses have higher NSC levels because they store their carbohydrates as fructan. Horse Nutrition: Alfalfa hay for horses supports a healthy intestine and removes excess acids from the blood. Not the Perfect Food, but … In summary, while alfalfa isn't a complete, "whole" food for horses, it doesn't have to be avoided either-if you make it a point to balance your horse's diet so he's getting everything he needs in the right amounts. Kentucky Equine Research (KER) recommends feeding at least 1% of a horse’s … As Hi-Fi Lite is so low in sugar it is particularly suitable for horses and ponies that require a low sugar ration and those prone to laminitis. For the horse who might have some respiratory sensitivities, fines can be mixed into a meal or wet down slightly, but, in general, the particles are much too large to actually be inhaled into the lungs. In fact, high starch or sugar diets are usually the culprits. The choice between alfalfa and oat hay depends on price per unit of energy or protein and the type of horse being fed. Alfalfa is prone to have more "fines" (broken, crumbled leaves that fall out when you open the bale). Understanding the kinds of carbohydrates your horse is eating will help you select a right carb diet for him. Alfalfa and… Tradition holds that timothy hay and oats are the best feeds for horses, and that alfalfa and corn spell disaster. Few things create more arguments and opinions when it comes to feeding horses than whether alfalfa should be a part of the equine diet. Alfalfa dries excess dampness in the body. Commonly fed legume hays are Alfalfa and clover. Here's why and what your horse really needs. Alfalfa, and clover hay for that matter, are both legumes. The high levels of calcium in alfalfa make it a valuable horse feed for mares in late pregnancy and early lactation. evidently the grass isnt any good … In comparison, alfalfa hay generally has a ratio of 15 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. Good-quality alfalfa hay is appropriate for weanlings, yearlings, and other young horses. Alfalfa is a very common choice for horse owners to feed. Any hay they get would have to be shipped in, so as you can see compressed cubes is alot cheaper and easier to ship. I mention that US Davis, a leading Vet School is a fan of Alfalfa so I put a link to their PDF about horse nutrition. You can also find me on Facebook where I always appreciate a LIKE. Store it with string side on the vertical to … Concentrated high levels of protein can lead to kidney stress. This is not good for easy keepers, as you exceed their energy requirement while trying to meet their fiber requirement, which leads to fat or hot horses. Alfalfa may provide too much energy, protein and nutrients for … Madalyn. This can cause "thumps" or muscular problems in horses working hard, or weakness and muscular problems in mares when they first start to produce milk. Molds growing in the bales can cause respiratory tract symptoms, but the same molds can--and do--grow in any type of hay. What's true, though, is that the very unbalanced mineral profile in alfalfa could contribute to OCD.Myth: The high calcium in alfalfa can prevent OCD and other bone problems in developing horses.Fact: Calcium is important to developing bone, but so is phosphorus, magnesium, protein, and the trace minerals. The most productive and popular legume hay is Alfalfa as it is a highly nutritious and a high yield crop. It contains, on average, only 7% sugar, which is less than what you would find in standard horse hay. But with this said, I will go on to say that there are situations in which alfalfa hay is very good for horses. Excess dampness in the body creates and environment that supports the growth of molds, yeast and parasites. 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