Feeding alfalfa? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 25 Old 10-05-2011, 06:56 AM
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No that is completely false. Grass hay provides more heat than alfalfa. Alfalfa is a good hay to feed in hot climates
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post #12 of 25 Old 10-05-2011, 08:30 AM
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You don't want alfalfa to comprise the only hay in the diet because of the calcium content. A flake or two a day is fine but something else should be fed. A horse living on only alfalfa can develop a condition called Big Head, whereby his head increases in size altho this may take months to happen.
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post #13 of 25 Old 10-05-2011, 10:47 AM
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Wrong.

Big Head is caused by feeding more grain than hay. It is caused by an inverted calcium/phosphorus ratio. Feeding alfalfa as the only source of forage isnt going to cause big head. Like I said, there is no nutritional benefit to feeding grass with the alfalfa other than to add bulk and give the horse more variety. The horse is still getting everything it can get in grass hay through alfalfa. Only the benefit is you can feed less alfalfa than grass & get the same results. Alfalfa has a higher digestible energy content.
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post #14 of 25 Old 10-08-2011, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, thank you fpr setti g me straight
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post #15 of 25 Old 10-09-2011, 09:13 AM
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.Delete, that was research I read, oh, 20 years ago. The recommendations were one or two flakes per day along with other hay.
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post #16 of 25 Old 10-15-2011, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by .Delete. View Post
Wrong.

Big Head is caused by feeding more grain than hay. It is caused by an inverted calcium/phosphorus ratio. Feeding alfalfa as the only source of forage isnt going to cause big head. Like I said, there is no nutritional benefit to feeding grass with the alfalfa other than to add bulk and give the horse more variety. The horse is still getting everything it can get in grass hay through alfalfa. Only the benefit is you can feed less alfalfa than grass & get the same results. Alfalfa has a higher digestible energy content.
I havent heard of Big Head, but I do know that Alfalfa has a lot of calcium in it (if that's all they get they will have a serious in-balance) so if that's one of the main causes, then I guess could be possible... But I havent heard of that.. Kinda interesting disease I guess... :/

“Good things come to those who wait… greater things come to those who get off their ass and do anything to make it happen.” - Unknown
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post #17 of 25 Old 10-15-2011, 10:03 PM
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Big head happens when the posphrous levels are the same or more than the calcium because posphrous binds with calcium making it un able to be absorbed. A 2C:1P ratio is the norm an is sufficient. But 1:1 is when a dificency occurs
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post #18 of 25 Old 10-25-2011, 11:25 AM
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I think the biggest danger of excess calcium is bladder stones- my vet just brought back a horse of hers that had been leased out for several years and fed primarily alfalfa and he had developed a bladder stone the size of a baseball

Bladder stones are rare in horses, and large ones like this even more so, but it's a risk of a long-term high-calcium diet.

As far as feeding a horse alfalfa until grass hay becomes available again, there shouldn't be a problem.

Alfalfa's reputation for being "hot" that you've heard is probably in reference to the horse's temperament. Some horses seem particularly sensitive to alfalfa and will get hyped up on it (TB's especially have this reputation), but it doesn't actually digest at a higher temperature in their gut.
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post #19 of 25 Old 10-25-2011, 11:31 AM
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Alfalfa has a high energy content so you can feed less of it if it and still get the same results as you would with alot of grass hay. IMO your actually saving money by feeding Alfalfa.
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post #20 of 25 Old 10-25-2011, 11:52 AM
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Sorry Saddlebag, Delete is right. You are confusing lack of calcium with excess calcium. Here is an excellent article I found on the net.

Living Legends - Horse Health - Nutrition

Alfalfa will actually prevent "big head" since "big head" is a sign of calcium deficiency. Feeding too much grain and bran without extra calcium can cause it. So the alfalfa actually prevents "big head."

I live in Arizona, and right or wrong, we have practically no other hay than alfalfa and bermuda. Right now I feed a mixture of both, but back in my boarding days the barn owners fed straight alfalfa, even in the 120F summers! No horse parished from straight alfalfa. As a matter of fact, they seem to thrive on it.

The only negative I have heard about alfalfa is that it may increase the chance of entroliths. But I have head the kidney thing is false, although the horse may drink more water with alfalfa to clear out the excess protien and calcium.

But alfalfa is a great hay for growing horses. I have a yearling who is thriving on it. He does get some bermuda as well, but I would say at least 60% or more of his diet is alfalfa.

If you can get a mix of alfalfa/grass, that is ideal. But don't be afraid to feed straight alfalfa. Those of us in the southwest do it all the time.

Like all feeds though, I would try to make the switch gradual as possible by mixing a bale of alfalfa with the existing hay before you feed alfalfa straight. It IS a rich hay. But the horses LOVE it and are very sleek and shiny. It keeps horses fat, so you don't want to feed it free-choice.
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