Feeding exclusively alfalfa hay?

       The Horse Forum > Keeping and Caring for Horses > Horse Health

Feeding exclusively alfalfa hay?

This is a discussion on Feeding exclusively alfalfa hay? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

LinkBack Thread Tools
    12-04-2010, 06:58 PM
Super Moderator
Feeding exclusively alfalfa hay?

Is is bad to only feed alfalfa? With a minimal amount of pasture grass?

I'm wondering because Lacey's living with llamas that only get fed alfalfa (which I know is not good for the llamas, but their owner is a really opinionated guy that I want to stay on the good side of so I don't want to risk PO-ing him by questioning his animal care) and and she's basically shunning her own grass hay in favor of the alfalfa. That, in turn, is making the llama's owner irritated with me since his llamas aren't getting a chance to eat because Lacey is shoving them out.
So, I'm wondering if I got myself alfalfa hay and just started feeding Lacey that (it's the same price as grass hay, btw), instead of grass hay, would Lacey suffer any unwanted effects from that?
I've tried mixing a little of his alfalfa with my grass hay, but Lacey just picks out the alfalfa then goes off to bother the llamas...

And I can't separate them at feeding time since these llamas don't want to eat like that. They want to eat a little, wander off, eat some more, wander off again, etc.

Anyway, would that much alfalfa be bad for her? She doesn't get hot off it, she actually gets hotter off the grass hay than she does with alfalfa. Silly girl!

I might continue to feeding her grass hay as a munchy thing (since she will eat it if there's no other hay around) through the winter, but she'd get 3-4ish flakes of alfalfa a day... Unless that much makes her obese, in which case she'd get less. Haha
Sponsored Links
    12-04-2010, 07:04 PM
All of mine get only alfalfa. The only thing about Lacey is that she might start to put on weight again.
    12-04-2010, 08:36 PM
To much alfalfa causes kidney problems so I've bee told by a few equine nutrionists
    12-04-2010, 09:04 PM
I think she will be fine. I feed alfalfa hay all winter and have never had a problem. I think the real problem comes when your horse breaks into your hay room full of alfalfa, the consequences will be worse than if you had grass hay, lol. I do feed orchard grass or timothy pellets as well though. And mine still have access to some semi-decent pasture.

Perhaps try a mixed bale. I do think 4 flakes of alfalfa would cause her to gain weight.
Posted via Mobile Device
    12-05-2010, 01:15 AM
In Arizona, many, many people feed nothing but alfalfa. I did for years and years, and so do most of my neighbors. The only reason I am feeding some bermuda with my alfalfa now is because I have a foal and I worry about his diet being unbalanced and him growing too fast. So he get some alfalfa and bermuda. But all my adult trail horses have gotten nothing but straight alfalfa and a small amount of grain as a treat.

I know there are a lot of folks with a lot of reasons not to feed alfalfa, but here in AZ it is the cheapest, most widely available hay, and I would say the majority of horse owners feed straight or close to straight alfalfa. I wish we could get good grass hay here, but bermuda is the only grass we get consistently and it is more expensive than alfalfa and my vet doesn't seem to feel it has a lot of nutrition value to it.
    12-05-2010, 05:58 AM
Our hay supplier had mostly alfalfa crops this year. The other crops of hay didnt grow as well because of the weather. So we've been feeding mostly alfalfa hay. The only difference was a little loose stool in the beginning.
    12-05-2010, 07:03 AM
How much pasture does she have?

Too much alfala/lucerne throws out the calcium/phosphorous ratio. If you balance it out by supplementing, you should be fine.
    12-05-2010, 11:48 AM
Super Moderator
Thanks guys! Good to know.
4 flakes was kind of a randomly thrown out number. So I would adjust it to how much she's actually eating. Of the alfalfa she's getting right now, she's getting about a flake and a half (they're very small flakes, maybe 2ftx1ft, about 1 inch wide) everyday and about 3 flakes of grass hay (but it's REALLY yucky grass hay) and holding her weight pretty ok. I'd like to be feeding a lot less of the grass hay just because I know she doesn't hold her weight well on it (last winter she was up to 8 flakes of it A DAY and she got way too skinny).

Also, I'm thinking about getting her some beet pulp and starting her on that... Just for extra oomph.
She loses a lot of condition in the winter and I'd really like to get rid of the extreme difference between summer and winter. In the summer she is a little too chubby but in the winter, her spine just pops out like no other (it's not doing that yet but it's trying to come out to play) and I want this to be the winter where she looks great all winter. I think the thing with her is that to build good muscle she needs to look rounder and her ribs need to be completely covered, no way to feel them (if you can feel them, the rest of her body looks like it needs food), so in the winter when she loses that 50lbs, or whatever, that's making her round, she has a hard time building the muscle and keeping it. If that makes any sense whatsoever. Haha

Originally Posted by wild_spot    
How much pasture does she have?

Too much alfala/lucerne throws out the calcium/phosphorous ratio. If you balance it out by supplementing, you should be fine.
She has about 2 acres of pasture, that's fully covered in "grass". However, I'm not sure at all about the nutritional quality of the grass since we've already had major frost, a light snow, and we were below 15F for a few days.

What do you mean about supplementing? I'm totally new to this.
    12-05-2010, 03:22 PM
I'v always heard that when you feed alfalfa hay the horse needs to work as alfalfa is really high in protein. I'v also heard some horses that doesn't work not do so good with all that protein. For instance they give the alfalfa hay to race horses. It may just be a rummor but just thought I'd share that
    12-05-2010, 04:28 PM
Speaking of alfalfa... I'm sorry, I'm going to hi-jack this thread...

When I went camping with my horse last summer, we are required to use certified-weed-seed-free hay, and there are only a few suppliers so far. (new-ish law) So pretty much my only option was this stuff that had lots of alfalfa and other high protein hays mixed in. (either that or some crap hay that looks like it's good for nothing but cows.) And my horse got all kinds of welts on her. HUGE bumps ALLLL over her body. I swear she looked like a giant roll of giant-bubble bubble wrap!!
The people I was with were using the same hay (same supplier) and their horses didn't react At All. They told me that they were "protein bumps" - which I've never heard of,.. but then my horse is a mustang and would get fat off dirt. Luckily some one else had some of the "cow hay" and I traded with her. The welts pretty much went away over-night. Soooooo...
Were they actually this "protein bumps" thing, or was it maybe an allergic reaction, or...??
(I know she has had alfalfa before, but that was when she had recently weaned a foal, was underweight, and needed the extra protein.)

I'm just confused and curious all at the same time. =P

Quick Reply
Please help keep the Horse Forum enjoyable by reporting rude posts.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Alfalfa pellets?! CarlyCole Horse Health 10 04-22-2010 03:54 PM
alfalfa chika1235 Horse Health 8 03-23-2010 08:17 PM
Can I stop feeding Alfalfa? rosie9r Horse Health 11 08-27-2009 05:10 PM
Feeding straight alfalfa Britt Horse Health 10 07-09-2009 10:39 AM
Feeding Alfalfa cubes laceyf53 Horse Health 5 09-30-2008 11:08 AM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:50 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0