What's the benefit of alfalfa? - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 Old 05-30-2009, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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What's the benefit of alfalfa?

For all of the nutrition experts on here, what are the benefits of feeding alfalfa over regular timothy / grass hay if you don't need the extra protein? Are there any?

I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.
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post #2 of 5 Old 05-31-2009, 01:05 AM
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My logic is that the nutrition in hay is in the leaves, not the stem, and alfalfa tends to be more leafy and grass tends to be more stem-y. Of course, I might be totally off. I've also heard that a horse should always get both alflalfa and timothy. Alfalfa hay and grass pellets, grass hay and alfalfa pellets. It works for my horse. o_O

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post #3 of 5 Old 05-31-2009, 02:00 AM
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Feed Name..... Dm%......DE(Mcal/kg)......CP%.......LYS%.......Ca%...... P%...... Na%.......... Cl%................ K%
........................Dry..........Digestible... ....Crude.......Lysine.................Phos....... .........Chloride
......................Matter.........Energy....... .Protein.................Calcium.......... Sodium...............................Potas

Alfalfa...............90.9............2.17........ ...17.0...........0.87........1.19........0.24.... ....0.1.........0.65....................2.0
Orchardgrass....89.1............2.17...........12. 8..........0.25.........0.38.......0.25........0.0 2........0.66....................1.1
Coastal.............87.1............1.87.......... .10.4..........0.36..........0.49......0.27....... .0.17........0.67....................1.8
Oat Hay............85.0.............2.16............9. 1...........0.32.........0.37.......0.22.......... 0.33........0.08..................2.01

From Nutrient Requirements of Horses - Working Doc
Also note that calculator uses kg - which is 2.2 less than lb. So divide your lbs by 2.2 to get the kg. A 1000lb horse/2.2 = 455kg.

I have bookmarked this site and refer to it quite frequently. You may need to play with it some to get the hang of it.


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post #4 of 5 Old 05-31-2009, 04:09 PM
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The benefits of alfalfa:
1. It can be used to bring up the overall protein content of a diet, for example if you are feeding grass hays that have less than 8% protein.
2. The elevated calcium content can be used to balance out feedstuff that have an inverted calcium to phosphorus ratio compared to what is needed for horses.
3. The elevated calcium content can also ease the discomfort of gastric ulcers.

Disadvantages:
1. The elevated calcium content and high protein content can lead to developmental disorders in foal and growing horses.
2. The elevated mineral content can lead to the formation of enteroliths (big stones in the GI tract) if alfalfa is fed for long periods as the sole forage.
3. Elevated protein content can cause increase in kidney issues for senior horses who already have some kidney dysfunction.

Just like anything else used in horses' diets, the key is providing appropriate amounts of nutrients in the right balance to provide optimum nutrition for your horse.

Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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post #5 of 5 Old 06-01-2009, 01:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryle View Post
1. The elevated calcium content and high protein content can lead to developmental disorders in foal and growing horses.

My 9 month old gets half a coffee can of alfalfa pellets at night, and is on orchard hay. Is that a problem?

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
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