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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
  • Is alfalfa good bits for young horses
  • Feeding alfalfa cubes to young horses

 
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    04-12-2011, 12:11 AM
  #11
Trained
You may want to smash them up a bit until they get used to eating them... cubes are the perfect size to choke on.
     
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    04-12-2011, 12:16 AM
  #12
Weanling
That's what I was wondering about- also colic- they look like they would "pack up" easily- will soaking them help that?
     
    04-12-2011, 10:08 AM
  #13
Started
[QUOTE=mlkarel2010;994479]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.

That's terrible advice. A youngsters hindgut can digest long stem fibers. They can have trouble with over mature, high fiber hay (that's where the hay bellys on immature horse comes from) but they do digest it. They don't have trouble with immature fine stem forage. 60-70% grain would be the equivalent of 10-12# daily and 5-6# hay. If you feed them that way you will definitely have OCD and other dietary related growth issues.
     
    04-12-2011, 10:17 AM
  #14
dee
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatieQ    
Thanks, I will look into the alfalfa pellets too- how much flax meal do you give her, and what form does it come in?
We use OmegaHorseshine as our source of flax meal - it also has other stuff in it (like psyllium to help push sand through and out of her system), along with other goodies - plus it's been stabilized so it will keep for up to a year if kept cool and dry - not that a bag lasts that long!

She gets about 1/3 cup twice daily. It's probably more than she needs, but who knows?
     
    04-12-2011, 11:08 AM
  #15
Yearling
I have both my horses 8 & 2 on cubes, hay, flax and pelleted feed(gelding is on a maintenance and filly is on a feed designed for growing horses)

I came from CA where I was used to feeding alfalfa and we got huge bales. We are in SC now and it took me almost a year getting my gelding on a diet where he didn't drop weight and he's not a hard keeper. Once I started using the alfalfa cubes and flax he has been doing fantastic and even seems more relaxed. So I put my filly on the same and she's maturing nicely :) I soak them and they have no trouble eating them.
     
    04-12-2011, 12:26 PM
  #16
Weanling
Can't stress enough--- SOAK THEM!!!! When I've fed them in the past (when alfalfa prices skyrocket from time to time) I measure it out into one of those big plastic tubs with rope handles (from Target or something like that) and then hose it down until they are pretty much covered. About 20 minutes is good enough, then just use your feed scoop to make sure it's all broken up and soft. My kids call the slurry "alfalfa-sauce".

Before we started soaking, we had two horses (both HOGS at feeding time) choke within a few days of each other. Miserable and expensive lesson to learn.
     
    04-12-2011, 12:53 PM
  #17
Super Moderator
If you do alfalfa cubes, I would suggest soaking them, however you could just do a hay additive or a hay extender. (pellets)
     
    04-12-2011, 01:17 PM
  #18
mls
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlkarel2010    
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
Not weird - it's not right.

We supplement the hay with grains. Our young stock is basically on free choice hay. If we had to give up one or the other, the grain would go. Even our feed representative says that.

Ideally the youngsters would have a BETTER quality hay that is easier to digest. A lot of pot bellies on weanlings are due to undigested roughage due to quality.
     
    04-12-2011, 05:51 PM
  #19
Green Broke
Thanks mls!

@Left Hand Percherons - I didn't say they were incapable of digesting it, but they can't do it efficiently yet.

And about the young horses in the wild. They get enough nutrients to survive, a lot of the times these young horses are pretty scrawny though. For them to get enough nutrients for sufficient growth their diets need to be supplemented with a high percentage of concentrates.

It seems like it would go against nature but it doesn't. This is what research has found. If you would like to look into it yourselves there are a lot of equine nutrition research papers you can search at Google Scholar
     
    04-12-2011, 06:16 PM
  #20
Trained
Quote:
For them to get enough nutrients for sufficient growth their diets need to be supplemented with a high percentage of concentrates.
That is very unhealthy. There are feeds/supplements designed to give a young horse all it needs in a very small dose, so they can live mainly off forage, which is what they need. Too much concentrate is bad for ANY horse, let alone a baby.
     

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