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Alfalfa and change of behavior

This is a discussion on Alfalfa and change of behavior within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • My horse is eating straight alfalfa and is jumpy
  • Horse goes nuts on alfalfa

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    03-07-2013, 11:26 AM
  #11
Trained
That is not alfalfa's fault, my dear....she is just passed puberty, was cranky for a few days and now has established a new herd order. Happens when the former boss is beginning to show weakness due to age. Some oldies put up a fight, others not.

I have yet to see a horse go nuts on alfalfa. More energy, yeah, especially when already on the chubby side. I find the Ca-magnesium ratio loosie mentioned also plausible
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    09-11-2013, 12:29 AM
  #12
Foal
Thumbs down

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mochachino    
I just recently started to add some alfa cubes to my paint's diet. Has anyone seen a change in behavior when adding some higher protein to their horses diet? He has always been pretty easy going, but during the last week he has been pinning his ears at me when he is eating and tried to side kick me, which is completely out of character. Thus to say he had a crazed woman on his butt with a lunge whip. Anyway, I notice a change of behaivor and the only thing I have changed is adding alfa cubes. Any opinions would be welcomed.
Yes! I have had this issue recently with my horse. Both times I have fed this same O/A combination from this same Hay distributor (real good quality hay) but has a lot of green Alfalfa in it she just loses it. This last time she tried to run me down it was plain and simple, SCARY! I am done, no more alfalfa I;m sticking with T/O hay and that is it! I think some horses are just super sensitive.
     
    09-11-2013, 01:43 AM
  #13
Trained
Since that thread was brought back to life......I think I found an explanation. Just read that alfalfa contains phytoestrogens. They could have an influence on behaviour, I think.
I haven't noticed any bad behavior in my horses, but I noticed my mare's heats are much more calm since I cut down 50% on alfalfa.
     
    09-11-2013, 11:48 AM
  #14
Green Broke
Here in Arizona, alfalfa is the best quality, most available, and cheapest hay (not saying it's cheap, it's about $16 a 100 lb bale right now, but even that is $2 cheaper than bermuda hay, our second most available hay). Sure, I would love to feed a grass mix, but sometimes it's cost prohibitive or just flat out poor quality. Who wants to pay $18+ for 100 lbs of cruddy quality hay?

Needless to say I am currently feeding straight alfalfa. Beautiful, lush, leafy green alfalfa. The adult horses do fantastic on it! The 3 yr old also does fantastic on it other than being a little more energetic than I would like. But hey, he's a 3 yr old and my friends constantly remind me that I am not used to riding a young horse (he's my first).

But anyway, EVERYONE I know out here feeds an at least 50% alfalfa diet to their horses, most 100%. I refuse to believe a handful of cubes or pellets would make someone's horses nutso. Furthermore, I have an ex-broodmare who is now my trail riding horse. I think I have seen her in season 3-4 times in the 4 years I have had her. Definitely NOT mareish.

I think alfalfa is everyone's favorite scapegoat!

Man, if grass chills them out THAT much, I wouldn't know what to think!
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    09-11-2013, 12:01 PM
  #15
Trained
I'm also in Arizona. My horses get bermuda hay, but I'm thinking of adding some alfalfa. They get alfalfa pellets, and do not change personality - just keep weight on better. It is common here for folks to feed 100% alfalfa, and the horses don't drop like flies or go psycho. And my mare may have been jumpy, but it was a training issue, not feed. She's doing well now & 1/3 of her meals are pellets with alfalfa.
     
    09-11-2013, 12:21 PM
  #16
Trained
I'm also in an alfalfa area. In fact, here alfalfa I can find for 13$, orchard/ timothy is 23$. So naturally most horses here eat alfalfa.
I can see it could be a problem if the horse already gets his energy requirements through other feeds, then, when alfalfa is added, it goes over the top. Some might also be allergic.
I, personally, wouldn't feed only alfalfa, because I don't want to restrict roughage intake. But as part of a healthy diet there's nothing wrong with it.
As for a mare having a weaker heat with less alfalfa....is a good thing if you have two geldings competing for that mare.
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    09-11-2013, 01:15 PM
  #17
Teen Forum Moderator
I'm not in an alfalfa area but I feed Kenzie (23 month old TB filly) 6 lbs of alfalfa pellets a day to help her while she's growing, and she doesn't act like an idiot at all. Everything else I feed her is low NSC, high protein, and full of cool calories (SC Special Care grain and rice bran) and I think it is a nice balance for her. If anything she's a little too calm for a yearling.

It seems to me that the main reason for people having trouble with alfalfa is that they add it in without taking into account the other grains/hays/supplements they may be feeding their horse. If your horse eats texturized molasses-filled feed and you add the alfalfa, its much more likely to set your horse 'over the edge' than if you're careful to balance everything out IMO.


^^^ oops, didn't see that desert already said pretty much the same thing. Darn, and here I was thinking I was being smart! LOL
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    09-11-2013, 02:56 PM
  #18
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Endiku    
I'm not in an alfalfa area but I feed Kenzie (23 month old TB filly) 6 lbs of alfalfa pellets a day to help her while she's growing, and she doesn't act like an idiot at all. Everything else I feed her is low NSC, high protein, and full of cool calories (SC Special Care grain and rice bran) and I think it is a nice balance for her. If anything she's a little too calm for a yearling.

It seems to me that the main reason for people having trouble with alfalfa is that they add it in without taking into account the other grains/hays/supplements they may be feeding their horse. If your horse eats texturized molasses-filled feed and you add the alfalfa, its much more likely to set your horse 'over the edge' than if you're careful to balance everything out IMO.


^^^ oops, didn't see that desert already said pretty much the same thing. Darn, and here I was thinking I was being smart! LOL
I won!
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    09-11-2013, 07:48 PM
  #19
Teen Forum Moderator
I'll admit defeat! You're one of the key people I learned all of this nutrition from anyways, so I think even if I had replied first you still would have won! Haha.

*sulks away*
     
    09-11-2013, 08:18 PM
  #20
Green Broke
The only thing alfalfa does to my horses is make them fat! I used to feed 2nd cutting hay (which was very rich in alfalfa) during the winter months for added 'fuel'. My QH was getting a tad chunky, but has always been an easy keeper. When I acquired my 1st Morgan last summer, however, I had no idea that she would blow up like a balloon from it, and the minute we hit 50 degrees this Spring, she developed a crested neck and a limp in a front hoof indicating potential founder....Bingo! I read that like a book, donated all of that rich alfalfa to the local rescue (who were very happy to have it for the starving horses they have to feed!), and it's 1st cutting only for my mares (all are between 20-22 yrs. Old) from now on! :)
     

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