It is highly digestible and usually contains more digestible nutrients than grass hays, such as timothy and orchardgrass. It’s readily available and commonly fed, so it’s a logical foundation for many horses’ diets. High levels of calcium, on the other hand, can interfere with the horse’s ability to mobilize bones’ calcium stores during exercise. 600 Bales of 3 String Square Alfalfa Orchard. This can offer some cost savings if you also have horses that do fine on the less-nutrient-dense hay. Today, alfalfa still grows best in well-drained soils rather than wet soils. This is a mold that causes black blotches on the undersides of the leaves of legumes, including alfalfa. “Use of alfalfa grew rapidly in the western U.S. as people realized it fit well with that climate” and less-acidic soil types, says Smith. Research in Colorado reported that mature horses fed alfalfa cubes maintained their body weight better than horses fed equal amounts of long-stem hay. When purchasing hay, examine a few bales to see if the alfalfa has blooms. In other areas, it is a delicacy of sorts, shipped in from different regions and bought a bale at a time on a vet’s recommendation to help certain horses that need nutritional support. The stems are thin and flexible, and it has a high fibre content. Premium horse hay. “Many horse owners buy bales of alfalfa and bales of grass hay and feed several flakes of grass hay and one flake of alfalfa” as needed, says Krista Lea, MS, forage extension specialist and research analyst at UK. Stephen Duren, PhD, equine nutritionist and founder of Performance Horse Nutrition, in Weiser, Idaho, says this is because alfalfa provides amino acids needed for muscle regeneration. This is the cut that’s taken before the hay blooms and is a good, solid, hay! Aug 28, 2019 - Explore Premium Quality Product Export's board "Alfalfa Hay" on Pinterest. Horses that are fed alfalfa cubes tend to eat all the cubes provided, whereas horses fed long-stem alfalfa hay will sort through the hay and not eat all the hay offered. Horses are designed to eat forage and quality forage is the basis for the feeding programs of all classes of horse. “A lot of horse owners are intimidated by alfalfa and think they shouldn’t feed it, but it is a great feed for horses,” says Martinson. Plant breeding was also beginning by the 1900s, and plant scientists were able to develop alfalfa plants that were better adapted to various soils in the U.S.” Modern plant breeding has also improved this legume’s disease resistance. Always follow the recommendations in your state regarding scouting for and controlling blister beetles.”, Some owners believe alfalfa makes horses “hot,” but Martinson says there’s no scientific basis for this. Also known as as fed or as received.. Dry Matter Basis: nutrient results for the sample with the water removed. “The biggest benefit of alfalfa for horses is that it tends to be more nutrient-dense than most grasses when harvested at the same stage of maturity,” says Martinson. As both the grasses and alfalfa have been high temperature dried, this is a very ‘clean’ forage source making it especially beneficial for performance horses or … Because it’s so nutrient-dense, it is a good feed for underweight horses. Horses fed to appetite consumed 17 to 25% more cubed alfalfa than long-stem hay. Productive, well-managed pastures can provide most of the feed requirements of horses for the least cost. Some horses with unpigmented skin should not eat alfalfa because they could be prone to photosensitization caused by black blotch disease, says Martinson. Protein metabolism creates more heat than fat or carbohydrate metabolism. “It can also be beneficial to horses with muscle problems that are prone to ­tying-up (due to their increased protein needs) or horses with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) due to the lower amount of nonstructural carbohydrates,” says Martinson. Chopped cubed hay (usually alfalfa or timothy or a combination) is another 100-percent replacement. Hay can also be useful when keeping horses indoors, and while transporting them. These flying insects—dead or alive—contain the toxin cantharidin, which can kill a horse if consumed in large amounts. Digital Media Library, “It can also be beneficial to horses with muscle problems that are prone to ­tying-up (due to their increased protein needs) or horses with, She says alfalfa is ideal for horses on high planes of nutrition, such as, “With growing horses, however, use caution in amount fed, simply so they don’t grow too quickly or get too big too fast and become at risk for, Alfalfa is also suitable for horses prone to, While feeding extra protein is wasteful, a high-protein diet in itself does not hurt a healthy horse. Dean “In California there are many cutting, reining, and other performance horses that eat a lot of alfalfa hay (due to its wide availability) and balancer pellets, and that’s their entire diet and they do fine.”. It is recommended that horses with metabolic syndrome consume hay with NSC levels of around 10% to 12%. This creates more urine and, thus, more ammonia odor. The succulent taste stimulates the appetite of ill or post-surgical animals. For some types of horses—in either of those areas—-alfalfa simply isn’t a great choice. If your horse doesn’t need the high nutrition value of pure alfalfa, look for a mixed grass/alfalfa hay. alfalfa hay for more than 40 years. Quality alfalfa hay has high protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. Alfalfa is a popular forage choice among horse owners for a variety of reasons. If I had a horse that was sensitive to potassium, rather than exclude alfalfa per se, I would have the hay analyzed. High quality hay can be an excellent source of nutrition for - including protein and calcium - for horses and ponies and is a very palatable feed.. Philanthropy & Alumni So feed overweight horses or easy keepers just as you would the sugar- or carb-sensitive ones—offer them a mature grass hay with lower caloric content over a rich legume. The more serious issue with these horses, however, is the liver damage from the toxins in the mold. However, when only given the choice of acid treated hay, the horses readily consumed it. This added heat can impair the horse’s ability to dissipate heat. “We see this practice more in the East where a lot of marginal grass hay is fed.”, The three-striped blister beetle is one species attracted to alfalfa blossoms. To steer clear of these, buy hay from a reputable person or company that knows how to grow alfalfa weed-free. There are many types of hay harvested from grasses including alfalfa, timothy, clover and rye. “Owners just need to manage the diet carefully … and make transitions to and from alfalfa slowly.”, N212 Ag Science Building NorthLexington, KY 40546859-257-2226equine@uky.edu, Nancy Cox, Ph.D. These horses are particularly sensitive to alfalfa’s high potassium content. “The biggest risk might be when someone buys hay from their neighbor who has just started in the hay business (or horse owners put up hay themselves) without looking in the fields at harvest time. While feeding extra protein is wasteful, a high-protein diet in itself does not hurt a healthy horse. ), building a diet on a good foundation of forage is especially important—the oats, corn, and barley that make up many feeds are 55-75% carbohydrate. S123 Ag Science – North It was one of the first domesticated forages, planted and harvested in what is now Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan several thousand years ago. “Many horse owners buy bales of alfalfa and bales of grass hay and feed several flakes of grass hay and one flake of alfalfa” as needed, says Krista Lea, MS, forage extension specialist and research analyst at UK. You might offer performance horses alfalfa an hour or two before work or competition, during which acid can splash up into the nonglandular part of the stomach (where the cells of the lining do not produce protective mucus). Alfalfa is also a popular horse hay since it is widely available. When incorporating alfalfa into a horse’s diet, plan for the animal’s specific nutritional needs. In table 1, there is a comparison between a mid bloom alfalfa and a mid bloom timothy hay. Also aim for a good leaf-to-stem ratio (most of the nutrients are in the leaves; the stems are more fibrous). Forage for horses can be divided into two categories—grasses and legumes. Adult blister beetles emerge in June (sometimes a little earlier or later depending on the region and climate) to feed on alfalfa blooms. It typically contains more digestible energy, more crude protein and calcium, and fewer nonstructural carbohydrates (sugars and starches). A horse eating more protein than the body can use will also drink more water (to help flush out the additional waste products). When looking for good-quality alfalfa, be sure it’s clean with no dust or mold—just as you would with any hay. 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