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The Big Debate Over: Alfalfa does it make your horse hyper? Love to hear your thought

This is a discussion on The Big Debate Over: Alfalfa does it make your horse hyper? Love to hear your thought within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Will alfalfa hype a horse up?
  • Can too much alfalfa hay cause hyper horses

 
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    01-07-2010, 11:02 AM
  #21
Foal
I have never heard or thought of alfalfa as being a problem in making horses hot. I feed it to my horses, a flake with each feeding, along with unlimited mixed grass hay,and plenty of grass in summer and lots of hard work. But I have been at clinics and shows where I have had people tell me Im going to wreak my horses kidneys by feeding alfalfa. I know my horses look great, alot better than most in my area, so I must be doing something right. Can anyone tell me for sure if it does damage the kidneys or not? Thanks
     
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    01-07-2010, 11:22 AM
  #22
Weanling
If you are feeding way too much protein for the work the animal is doing, the kidneys will have to pull that extra nitrogen out of the body and thus they are runing more water adn nitrogen out of the body than "normal".

I have never seen a study that showed this would "ruin" the kidneys on the horse, nor have I experienced this phenomon!
     
    01-07-2010, 11:54 AM
  #23
Foal
Thankyou, my horses really like their alfalfa, but I was concerned. Do you know what does cause kidney damage? I just lost a horse to that, but I suspected she had been through hard times before I got her. She was 24 yrs only. Once again I was told it was because I fed alfalfa, but I only had her 3 yrs! Her weight improved so much no-one knew who she was any more! So I was just wondering.....
     
    01-07-2010, 12:14 PM
  #24
Weanling
Princess Warrior, I have never heard that argument about alfalfa doing kidney damage. Too much of any one kind of food can be bad for a horse (I guess, except for just plan grass hay) but by your description you are definitely not feeding too much. I don't think it is the alfalfa that did your mare in. Kidney failure is a common problem in a lot of senior animals. They just stop working properly sometimes. Just a part of getting old. Sorry for you lose though.

Jubilee
     
    01-07-2010, 04:01 PM
  #25
Trained
Alfalfa does kidney damage to older horses. I have seen, first hand, an older horse slowly die from his kidneys shutting down due to an excess of alfalfa hay and oats. He first foundered, and from there his quality of life deteriorated extremely quickly. Because of the "over-work" the kidneys were doing, there was a constant stream of urine from his stall to the drain in the middle of the barn no matter how high the shavings were piled in his stall. He was drinking nearly twice the normal amount of water than a usual horse and it was not even hot outside (about -10C). He could not stay hydrated, when he chewed his eyes moved in and out of his skull (a sign of severe dehydration).
The vet was called after weeks of the horse being in agony after he foundered (and still was being fed a diet of alfalfa and oats) and the decision was made to put him down. The horse could not walk, and for the last few days he would not eat or stand up and was not urinating at all. He lay in his stall and groaned in agony. The horse was not even 25 when he was put down.

Most older horses have some type of Insulin Resistance or Cushings. Because of this, no horse older than about 20 (in my opinion) should be fed any alfalfa. They should strictly be on a low protein, high fat diet. A horse who is actually bad enough to be diagnosed with either of these conditions, could potentially die from only a few meals of alfalfa hay.
Princess warrior, although it is not for sure that alfalfa was the main cause in your horse's death, it was probably at least a small factor. Next time you need to put weight on an older horse, please consult an equine nutritionist and have your vet run tests before putting the horse on a high protein diet, like alfalfa.

As far as making horses hot, it really depends on the horse. Just like people, they will respond differently. It is more the sugars in the hay that are going to send some horses off the handle hyper, just like some people, if you give them sugar they go bonkers. Other horses and people can handle the sugar just fine. It is an insulin thing.
My horse is fed a 30% alfalfa mix and also gets oats because he is in such had work he needs the energy provided by the alfalfa and oats. He responds fine to this and does not get hyper, it just gives him more clean burning fuel :P For a pleasure horse, I would not feed excessive alfalfa or any oats. Some horses who respond badly to alfalfa can't have any. Just like any other thing with horses, their program needs to be individually tailored to them. Never treat horses as "this works for everyone" because it usually never works that way, and when in doubt, call a professional. Spending a few hundred dollars to prevent a few thousand dollar vet hospital stay, or having to put your horse down, is always worth it!
     
    01-07-2010, 05:46 PM
  #26
Yearling
Every horse is diefferent. My 3 yr old eats a flake each feeding and never seems to faze her. MY 8 yr old gelding on the other hand I have to be very careful about feeding it to him... or he can be a handful
     
    01-07-2010, 06:28 PM
  #27
Started
Excess protein also causes kidney stones (at least in people.) Ponies may founder with alot of protein.
     
    01-07-2010, 10:08 PM
  #28
Green Broke
My mare is usaually nice and quite (she is 18). But once I gave her alfalfa to boost her for the days speed events, but I forgot I had to do reining first!! As soon as we turned down the middle of the arena to do a stop on the other end, boy she turned like she was turning the last barrel! She took off down that arena and I sooo did not expect it! She acted up the whole class and made me want to just screw the class and correct her....which I wound up doing lol
     
    01-07-2010, 11:14 PM
  #29
Green Broke
Feeding Alfalfa to many horses over the years, I have found that it only makes some horses hyper when fed as their only source of forage, or the majority of their forage (over 70%). I have heard of some horses having a sensitivity to it, like a food allergy, and getting hyper on just a little, but I have not run across a horse like that myself.

I feed 1.5-3 lbs a day of alfalfa pellets to my horses as their "feed". Their forage is free choice bermuda with local grasses mixed. Switching from "horse feed" (and I tried all kinds!) to alfalfa pellets with a vit/min supplemened has actually CALMED DOWN my one "hyper horse" and improved my mare's "focus" during ring work. Her heats also got better.

The different types of horse feed was the cause of my horse's hyperactivity. The sugar and/or starch content found in most grains and feeds is MUCH higher than alfalfa hay or pellets. Sugar and/or starch does a lot more to "hype up" a horse than alfalfa, IME.

Alfalfa is high in digestible energy, or calories, but they're "good" calories from fiber and protein. A horse will more readily use these calories for constructive energy and muscle building than sugar or starch calories.

Living out in California, I fed primarly alfalfa hay to my horses, with just a little bermuda for "lunch" (to keep them from getting bored). My horses then were in heavy training and showing. Using Alfalfa hay allowed me to feed almost no feed, and keep them in good weight.
     
    01-08-2010, 07:23 AM
  #30
Foal
LOL makes Smarty and Dusty feel freash... veeery freash....
     

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