How much Alfalfa?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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How much Alfalfa??

My question is about how much alfalfa you can feed a horse without any health issues?? I know there are some people that only feed alfalfa because its easier to get and their horses are fine. But, my fil always balks about me feeding any at all, saying it is not good for their kidneys. I have a hard keeper and am tired of paying for all weight gain supplements if I can just up his alfalfa. Tell me all what you think, know and have read. Thanks!!!
Oh and right now I give a small flake or two at night when I stall them.

Melinda
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post #2 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 01:14 PM
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I go by how much amonia I can smell in the pee. If it's strong I cut back. I think it really depends on the individual horse.
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post #3 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 01:19 PM
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I feed mine 50% alfalfa and 50% grass...all my horses get the same mix and do great with it. I was told that horses under about 3 shouldn't have more than 50% alfalfa in their diet ever. I don't think it is as big of a deal for older horses to feed all alfalfa. Although a stable I used to board at insisted on only feeding all the horses straight alfalfa and giving everyone cob at night. Their horses were also almost always stalled. The horses looked gorgeous,but most looked ready to jump out of their own skin..haha. I'll stick with the half and half.

Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?-Edgar Allen Poe
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post #4 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 01:28 PM
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I recently saw a study, UC Davis, I think, which said horses can be maintained on free choice alfalfa only. Adult horses. As for kidney problems, only if the horse has an existing condition.
I used to feed 50/50 alfalfa and oat hay, to balance the high calcium and protein but low sugars with the low protein, low calcium but high sugars in oat hay. Now im doing 25% each alfalfa, oat, 3-way and orchard/Timothy. Mainly for cutting calories

ETA: I can't find any decent grass hay, and the orchard/Timothy is by far the most expensive(oat 10$, 3-way 10$, alfalfa 17$, orchard/Timothy 21$)
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Last edited by deserthorsewoman; 11-20-2012 at 01:31 PM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 01:36 PM
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i do a 50% prairie hay and/or brome and 50% alfalfa. my horse do great on this mix.
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post #6 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 01:46 PM
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Not all hays are equal. Meaning some alfalfa could have a much lower protein content than a grass hay. You need to have a hay test so that you know the feed values of the hay. This is the only way to have any certainty as to how much a given horse needs and how to balance/supplement with other feeds or supplements.

I would not worry about the kidneys wearing out from processing too much alfalfa protein. As long as the horse has enough water and proper minerals & electrolytes the kidneys should function as they are supposed to. As was said earlier this does not apply to horses with known kidney issues or disease. It also doesn't address possible founder from over eating or imbalances.
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 01:47 PM
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i too was recently being poo-poo'd for wanting to add alfalfa to my gelding's diet. before moving him up to oregon he was getting orchard/pasture mix and alfalfa and was doing well keeping weight on and having good condition. the barn he's at currently in OR doesn't agree with feeding alfalfa - that it's bad for kidneys, etc. that's fine and good if your horse can stay fat and sassy on straight grass but some can't. my TB certainly can't! so i've added alfalfa pellets to his diet as they're easier to get than alfalfa hay (i don't have a truck).
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post #8 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crimsonsky View Post
i too was recently being poo-poo'd for wanting to add alfalfa to my gelding's diet. before moving him up to oregon he was getting orchard/pasture mix and alfalfa and was doing well keeping weight on and having good condition. the barn he's at currently in OR doesn't agree with feeding alfalfa - that it's bad for kidneys, etc. that's fine and good if your horse can stay fat and sassy on straight grass but some can't. my TB certainly can't! so i've added alfalfa pellets to his diet as they're easier to get than alfalfa hay (i don't have a truck).
Must be something in the water, errrrrrr rain here,

Well, looks like to me I should not worry about feeding anything up to 50% alfalfa then, so I think I am good! Thanks everyone!
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post #9 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deserthorsewoman View Post
I recently saw a study, UC Davis, I think, which said horses can be maintained on free choice alfalfa only. Adult horses.
Do you have a link to that study? I've seen you mention this before and am interested in reading about it, but couldn't find it when I searched.
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post #10 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 04:51 PM
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If I only could remember.....maybe on TheHorse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care | TheHorse.com
It stuck because I was also told for years that it was dangerous to feed alfalfa. Ill try to find it
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