Feeding Alfalfa hay - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 01-21-2012, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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Feeding Alfalfa hay

I Have been feeding high quality alfalfa hay to my horse since I have owned him and not untill recently have I found out that it may be bad for him. Does anyone have any opinions on this and what affects it may have on him? Thank you .

Last edited by farmpony84; 01-24-2012 at 11:17 AM. Reason: spelling and grammar
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post #2 of 21 Old 01-21-2012, 11:14 AM
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I have been feeding high quality alfalfa hay for the past 18 years. In Arizona, it's what we feed.

Really, I know alfalfa gets a bad wrap, but it's awesome hay, high in protein and calcium and easy-keeper type horses stay fat on two flakes a day.

It's not something you feed free choice because it's rich. But boy, the horses love it and they always look very healthy.

Now with my yearling I am also giving him some bermuda grass hay as filler so he always has something to much on. And it DOES have a better calcium to phosphorous ratio than alfalfa. So I think in an ideal world, about a 50/50 mix is perfect.

But I and everyone I know has fed straight alfalfa to adult horses (in limited portions such as two flakes a day) and they seem to thrive on it.

It is low in sugar too.

PS. Someone worried about the calcium to phosphorous ratio could also feed a bit of straight oats to help balance the alfalfa out. That is what my vet told me to do when my mare was pregnant to make sure she had some phosphorous.
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Last edited by trailhorserider; 01-21-2012 at 11:16 AM.
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post #3 of 21 Old 01-23-2012, 05:03 AM
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Agree with trailhorse. I think it's *generally* a very good feed. I have heard that there are the odd horses that are intolerant to something in it and I think the high protein level and high energy level can be problematic for some horses - eg. I'd hesitate to feed much to an easy keeper & would not feed too much to old horses for those reasons.

It is very high in calcium & other nutrients which, as Trail explained about the Calcium Phosphorus ratios, can be problematic *if not fed as part of a balanced diet* so I'd feed it as a part of the hay ration and just make sure the horse is getting appropriate nutritional supplementation.
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post #4 of 21 Old 01-23-2012, 01:37 PM
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Agreed, we've been feeding alfalfa hay for decades for the same reason as THR, it is (or used to be before the drought) the easiest to find hay in my area and has a better nutrient content than most grass hays. The only problem I've had with it is that my easy keeper horses get really fat if they are fed alfalfa and don't get worked LOL.

But, there is a common myth that alfalfa is bad for a horse's kidneys. That's completely untrue.

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post #5 of 21 Old 01-23-2012, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
But, there is a common myth that alfalfa is bad for a horse's kidneys. That's completely untrue.
I asked my vet about that when he switched my horse to a mostly alfalfa diet. He said that was only true IF sufficient water was not provided with it. Horses on an alfalfa diet will drink almost 2x a much as a horse on a non-alfalfa diet and they cannot have their water rationed in any way.

My horse is very healthy on his mostly alfalfa diet and oh does he drink water now! He has to have multiple water buckets in turnout and in his stall and they have to be re-filled every time he goes into turnout or his stall.
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post #6 of 21 Old 01-23-2012, 02:10 PM
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I owned a gelding that I had I purchased as a 2 yr. old that was alergic to alfalfa hay according to the vet, he cough like had the heaves, and as soon as I switch his hay back to grass hay, he quit coughing.
The vet also told me it WAS BAD FOR THE KIDNEY'S.........
I owned that horse for 32 years.
Unless your horse is being worked, nursing, or needs weight, I wouldn't feed alfalfa, to much protein is not good..........
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post #7 of 21 Old 01-23-2012, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delfina View Post
I asked my vet about that when he switched my horse to a mostly alfalfa diet. He said that was only true IF sufficient water was not provided with it. Horses on an alfalfa diet will drink almost 2x a much as a horse on a non-alfalfa diet and they cannot have their water rationed in any way.

My horse is very healthy on his mostly alfalfa diet and oh does he drink water now! He has to have multiple water buckets in turnout and in his stall and they have to be re-filled every time he goes into turnout or his stall.
I did not know that! That explans why mare mare drank so much! She would drink 2 full buckets 2xs a day, when stalled. The BO installed an auto waterer for her since she drank so much.

My name is now my horses on a dor not my horse sonador
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post #8 of 21 Old 01-23-2012, 02:22 PM
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When I don't have alfalfa hay, I will feed alfalfa pellets. It is very good for horses (and dairy goats), if it is fed properly. You don't want to give your horse free choice alfalfa, but it is good to have it in their diets.
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post #9 of 21 Old 01-23-2012, 02:25 PM
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We feed alfalfa as well, although we feed it at a 1:2 ratio with timothy hay, simply because we have quite a few horses who are not worked hard (mainly miniature horses, and a few full sized) and they tend to turn into blimps on straight alfalfa XD

If you don't work your horse atleast three hours a week, I probably wouldn't recommend alfalfa, and I definately wouldn't recommend alfalfa with straight oats to anyone with a hot or green horse, but it has otherwise been a great hay for us.

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post #10 of 21 Old 01-23-2012, 02:33 PM
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Alli gets dengie alfa-a (alfalfa with a different name!) as a feed with some mix and its doing her the world of good! Nice shiny coat, energy but not uncontrolled (even for a tb), beautiful muscle tone- under all the winter fluff!- and her windsucking has dropped drastically

Personally I love it as a base for her feed, but she still gets meadow hay because in the winter its closest to what she would be eating in the grass months.

We lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there too ~Kristen Martz
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