Feeding alfalfa?

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Feeding alfalfa?

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    10-03-2011, 02:20 PM
Feeding alfalfa?

My horses have been on costal, but the place I was getting it from ran out, so when we bought a bale from the only other feed store, my mare broke out in hives. I have heard alfalfa burned hot, would it be safe to feed during the heat we have? My mare works quite a bit, and the other is a six month old.
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    10-03-2011, 06:55 PM
Green Broke
Your horse broke out in hives, what other answer are you looking for ?
    10-03-2011, 07:17 PM
What I meant was, when I bought their costal she broke out, that is why I'm wondering if it would be ok to feed alfalfa istead of their costal to prevent hives. It's my only otherr option
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    10-04-2011, 12:36 AM
There was most likely a weed or other type of grass mixed in that caused her to break out in hives. Transitioning them both to alfalfa shouldn't be a problem. As long as they don't have a sensitivity to it, they will love the change. The heat is not going to add a layer of concern to feeding it.
    10-04-2011, 08:19 AM
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caseymyhorserocks likes this.
    10-04-2011, 01:42 PM
Green Broke
Regarding heat are you talking about the temp?

Horses are hind gut digesters. They use bacterial fermentation, which generates heat. Hence why you always feed more hay in the winter.

Alfalfa is a low Heat Increment feed (HI). When you have the same amount of volume in grass hay and Alfalfa hay, Alfalfa will have more digestible energy than grass. Meaning, you can feed less of it. So yes, Alfalfa is a good high temp climate feed.

Corn is also a good high climate feed. It also has a low HI and high digestible energy.

Hope this helps.
    10-04-2011, 01:57 PM
Agreed--alfalfa is fine to feed. I agree with the earlier post--probably there was a weed OR perhaps the field was sprayed(?), which cause the allergic reacton.
I'm glad that you have a supplier. =D
I KNOW that the SW is really dry and your options are few, but I want to warn you about 2 things re: alfalfa, should you decide to only feed THIS in the future.
First, alfalfa is hard on a horse's kidneys. This is more important with elderly horses, but many of their owners like it anyway bc it helps elderly "poor keepers" keep their weight.
Secondly, and this Also applies to elderly horses--alfalfa should be replanted after about 3 years, else the hay will have a LOT of stems, which older horses cannot and will not try to masticate. (I KNOW this bc I kept 4 horses into the 20's and I watched them eat around the stems.) Many farmers grow/sell their alfalfa to cattle ranchers bc the cows will eat it all, ruminate it and gain weight for market on it EVEN if it's hay from an old field. (I KNOW THIS, TOO bc my previous hay supplier used to raise black angus cattle. The hay was a sideline, and he didn't HAVE to replant his alfalfa fields.)
WHEN YOU CAN, IMHO you should feed some grass hay along with the alfalfa. Remember, too, "This (drought) TOO shall pass."
Prayers for you.
caseymyhorserocks likes this.
    10-04-2011, 02:24 PM
Green Broke
Certainly you should feed some grass hay for more variety.

But usually alfalfa that is sun-cured (which most are) only contain less than 17% crude protein. Which is not hard on the horse's kidneys. They kidneys & liver excrete access protein in urine as ammonia. Its rare to find Alfalfa that is not sun-cured and it is mostly fed to cattle along with alfalfa that contains alot of lignin (stems, etc).

The suggested requirements for CP are:
16-18% foals
14-16% weanlings
12-14% yearlings
9-11% mature

Like I said above the access protein is excreted as ammonia in urine. It causes no harm to the horse's kidneys.

In regards to re-planting every 3 years. My family grows alfalfa and we re-plant every 3-5 years depending on how our fields look. We re-plant because alfalfa dies off and gets taken over by other radical plants, not because our hay gets too stem-y.

The only reason why "we" (meaning the university) feed grass is to give the horse something else to munch on. To add "bulk", there is no more nutritional value in feeding grass with alfalfa than just feeding alfalfa by its self. Unless it is winter time, then that is a whole other story.
caseymyhorserocks likes this.
    10-05-2011, 01:34 AM
Thank you guys, the feed store we got the hay from usedd to have good costal, seven dollrs a bale...then it shot up to ten, and now they don't even have any. We used to have a little garde area full ofgreen grass, now its dirrt. Not a single thing grwing ha
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    10-05-2011, 01:39 AM
What I was worried about is, I have always been told alfalfa is good for cold teps becaause when they digest it prrrodces more heat than grass hay, I was worried about feedingsomething that will warm them up when the temp is 97 minimum
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