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This is a discussion on Alfalfa within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Horse nutrition guide alfalfa
  • Alphalfa horse food

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  • 1 Post By natisha

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    05-24-2012, 02:22 AM

I know transitioning a horse from grass hay to alfalfa should be done gradually, but exactly how gradually?

My one mare is turning out to be quite the hard keeper and I'm looking to add alfalfa to her diet in hopes of helping her gain weight. I'm looking to get up to about 50% alfalfa and 50% orchard, so just how gradually should this be done?

Also, is it better to feed her alfalfa in the morning and orchard at night (or the other way around) or is it better to give her a mix of both each time?

Forgive my ignorance but where I grew up on the east coast, alfalfa was not something was fed frequently unlike here on the west coast where its one of the most common choices.

Thanks in advance for the advice!
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    05-24-2012, 02:28 AM
Depending on if your horse is used to the alfalfa, at all.
I'd start with a handful, and work up slowly.

What I did with my horses, start with a handful, both morning and night with their feed/hay
And gradually work up to however much each horse needed
    05-24-2012, 02:29 AM
Green Broke
To be honest where I ride we don't transition feed in unless its grain or something with hay we go from straight alfalfa to half alfalfa half grass and have never had problems. The only thing I would watch for is that the alfalfa *might* make your horse a bit hot but it depends on the horse and alfalfa.
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    05-24-2012, 02:48 AM
Well the horse has had alfalfa in the past, however not in the past 8 months that I have owned her. From what I have always been told, adding alfalfa too quickly can cause colic or founder because it is so rich and we definitely don't want that!
    05-24-2012, 02:52 AM
Green Broke
Hmm we havr never had a problem but if you are worried about it then add about 1/3 alfalfa 2/3 grass for a week or so then bump it up from there. Also id mix it together so she is getting the right amount of feed.
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    05-24-2012, 02:53 AM
I have always started half a flake a day for a week and then add more. As for when to feed, I don't think it would really matter but personally I would mix it all together for the feedings.
    05-24-2012, 03:05 AM
Thanks for all the responses!

So far (the past 3 days) I have added half a flake of alfalfa to her usual portion of orchard grass. I figured feeding them together would be best, however she does seem to pick out all the alfalfa and eat that first.

Like I said, feeding alfalfa is new for me so I just want to be sure to not cause her any issues!
    05-24-2012, 03:38 AM
Green Broke
Most horses will choose alfalfa over grass hay so that isn't out of the ordinary, all our horses do it. Another rule I've heard ( not sure if its true) you want to feed more grass then alfalfa to level it out or something. My arab gets 2 flakes of alfalfa twicw a day when we feed straight alfalfa and about 2 flakes alfalfa 3-4 flakes grass. However that's just how my BO has us do it depending on each horse.
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    05-24-2012, 06:04 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by loveyourhorse    
well the horse has had alfalfa in the past, however not in the past 8 months that I have owned her. From what I have always been told, adding alfalfa too quickly can cause colic or founder because it is so rich and we definitely don't want that!
That depends on what 'too rich' means. Alfalfa is usually richer in nutrients & protein, depending on what growing stage it was cut in. I test my hay & the grass hays always come out with higher sugars.
loosie likes this.
    05-25-2012, 12:01 AM
I'd go for no more than 1/3 of her forage being alfalfa, unless under nutritionist's instruction anyway, as too much protein can be problematic.

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