Alfalfa cubes for young horses
 
 

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Alfalfa cubes for young horses

This is a discussion on Alfalfa cubes for young horses within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Feeding alfalfa cubes to weanlings
  • Can a horse get fed only alfalfa cubes and no grain

 
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    04-10-2011, 07:59 PM
  #1
Weanling
Alfalfa cubes for young horses

I am considering switching my horses diets to alfalfa cubes or a combination of alfalfa cubes and hay. They are both young morgans, aged 2 years and 8 mos. Both are fairly new to me ( about 2 months). Their previous owner fed alfalfa exclusively, but it is not easy to get in my area and very expensive. The local hay is very low in nutritional value and particularly protein. I have tried feeding it with alfalfa and my horses won't touch it- they just spread it around and trample all over it, after picking through it to get the alfalfa. I don't want to buy more local hay if they are just going to waste it, and I am running very low on alfalfa. I have no experience with the cubes. How much do you feed? Do you have to soak them first, and for how long? Are they safe to feed to a weanling? Any info or advice would be very much appreciated.
BTW they are also fed Pro-Form Step 2 (for young horses) and a vitamin/mineral supplement twice daily.
     
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    04-11-2011, 01:08 PM
  #2
Weanling
It would help to know where you are located. What is your location?
     
    04-11-2011, 07:17 PM
  #3
Green Broke
The two year old can definitely handle roughages now. However, the younger one still can't utilize forage very well yet since he hasn't quite adapted the right microbes for proper hindgut fermentation. His diet will still be mostly grain (about 60-70% actually). Also, because of this you don't have to worry so much about over feeding grain with him because he doesn't have the hindgut fermentation to cause problems yet.

However, when they are growing they have high protein requirements. Because of this I'd definitely go with the higher protein source. Also, make sure they are getting enough lysine which is really critical for proper growth in young horses.

I hope that helps some! I don't know about the exact amounts though.
     
    04-11-2011, 09:25 PM
  #4
Weanling
I live on Vancouver Island- alfalfa has to be shipped from the mainland or Washington state. We get lots of rain here so the soil is very depleted making the local hay poor in nutrition. Luckily I have a large pasture with really nice grass which is just coming in now, so hopefully they will be off the hay in a month or so.
     
    04-11-2011, 10:13 PM
  #5
dee
Started
If you can get it, alfalfa pellets are a great feed. We use alfalfa pellets to supplement hay and pasture all year round. Our filly, Rain, is nine months old and is just now being weaned, but she's in great shape, and on nothing but alfalfa pellets and prairie hay. (And flax meal)
     
    04-11-2011, 10:47 PM
  #6
Weanling
Thanks, I will look into the alfalfa pellets too- how much flax meal do you give her, and what form does it come in?
     
    04-11-2011, 10:50 PM
  #7
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlkarel2010    
The two year old can definitely handle roughages now. However, the younger one still can't utilize forage very well yet since he hasn't quite adapted the right microbes for proper hindgut fermentation. His diet will still be mostly grain (about 60-70% actually). Also, because of this you don't have to worry so much about over feeding grain with him because he doesn't have the hindgut fermentation to cause problems yet.

However, when they are growing they have high protein requirements. Because of this I'd definitely go with the higher protein source. Also, make sure they are getting enough lysine which is really critical for proper growth in young horses.

I hope that helps some! I don't know about the exact amounts though.
i have never heard anything like this before - grain being 60-70% of a young horse's diet? That just seems... off to me.

As far as cubes - you could soak them if you're worried about how they'll eat/digest them. Soaking will help with lowering the amount of dust the horses may inhale/consume as well as making them easier to chew and providing more water to their system.

I supplement my colt's feed with cubes but only because he likes to scarf his grain down and that helps slow him some. Haha
     
    04-11-2011, 11:29 PM
  #8
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by crimsonsky    
i have never heard anything like this before - grain being 60-70% of a young horse's diet? That just seems... off to me.
It sounded weird to me too when I learned about it in my Equine Nutrition class. But because the microbes in the horses cecum aren't fully functioning they can't digest hays and other roughage like adult horses can. So because of that they have more of a simple stomach digestive system like we do.

Because of it they get most of their energy from grain which they can digest easily instead of forage which they still can only partly utilize. This is also why you don't have to worry so much about colic and laminitis because that's caused by disruptions in normal hindgut fermentation patterns.

Of course as the young horse gets more microbes in the cecum it can digest forage and hay better and will slowly switch from a mostly grain diet to a mostly roughage diet.

Hope that clears things up! I know it sounds weird
     
    04-12-2011, 12:06 AM
  #9
Trained
^ So how do foals survive in the wild? All they eat is grass, which is roughage/forage...
Posted via Mobile Device
     
    04-12-2011, 12:09 AM
  #10
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by wild_spot    
^ So how do foals survive in the wild? All they eat is grass, which is roughage/forage...
Posted via Mobile Device
Hmm, interesting question indeed!! I'll ask the horse expert here at my college tomorrow!
     

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