Feeding alfalfa when hay is scarce?

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Feeding alfalfa when hay is scarce?

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    07-17-2012, 08:01 PM
Feeding alfalfa when hay is scarce?

I live in Michigan, where we have had absolutely no rain since memorial day weekend. Talking to our BO today and she is very worried about having enough hay for the boarders this winter. While she is stocking up as much as possible, hay is definitely at a premium. Not likely to get a second cutting this year. Anticipates having to ration hay this winter. I am thinking of stocking up on alfalfa cubes to supplement them for the winter. Since I have never had to worry about this before, can anyone give me any advice? How much alfalfa cubes or pellets would a horse need for a day? Would this be a good idea? My one boy is an easy keeper, the other gets thin quite fast. Is there any other way to keep weight on them.? I am anticipating that I will want to blanket them more..but am now a nervous wreck...I know the south went thru this last year...what did you all do to keep your guys fat and healthy?
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    07-17-2012, 08:30 PM
Green Broke
I am in southern Middle Tennessee; we're in a lot worse shape this year than 2011 --- a lot worse shape.

If you haven't read the "Feeding TMR's" thread, here's the link.

The Horse | Forage-Based Total Mixed Rations: Economical and Effective

It's something that needs read in its entirety. This is not the same as a ration balancer and, to-date, only appears to be available thru two feed companies that are named at the end of the article.

You're in a tougher position because you board. And trust me, you're going to have to keep your horses' feed stuffs at home if you don't want them to do a disappearing act. Padlock or no padlock, if someone gets desparate enough, there isn't a lock that can't be broken

Rather than straight alfalfa, you might consider timothy/alfalfa cubes by Standlee. Tractor Supply carries them.

Whatever kind of hay forage-n-a-bag you buy, I might plan on turning a spare bedroom into a storage area and keep enough to get you thru winter. If it's forage-only (not those Lucerne hay bales with molasses in them), it should keep all winter without issue.
    07-17-2012, 10:25 PM
Thank you. I will probably call my vet later this fall and see what suggestions he has too...and I agree, keeping it at home will be a good idea. My husband won't be too pleased but will live! Will probably just bring it over as needed...not a lot of storage and could see it being "shared" if I were to leave bags there.
    07-17-2012, 10:30 PM
I'm in the same position. My BO claims it easier to find alfalfa then grass. He's on only grass right now. But if we run out, we'll need to switch to alfalfa. And only alfalfa can be dangerous.
    07-17-2012, 11:07 PM
Im in Michigan too. Im adding beet pulp and alfalfa pellets to my horses diets this coming winter to help keep weight on and to hopefully help with keeping hay in my barn.

Look at the bag recommendations and go from there.

I have a gelding that needs it now. He's getting beet pulp, grain (Nutrena LifeDesign Senior) and alfalfa pellets as well as hay. He is gaining weight and looking better. My pasture is so fried, theres nothing let to eat. And apparently he's a hard keeper now. My other horses are good, its just this guy that's being problematic.
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    07-17-2012, 11:09 PM
Originally Posted by mselizabeth    
I'm in the same position. My BO claims it easier to find alfalfa then grass. He's on only grass right now. But if we run out, we'll need to switch to alfalfa. And only alfalfa can be dangerous.
Alfalfa grows in this heat/drought. The grass is all dead.

I drive past my hay guys fields and that's all that's growing is alfalfa, not grass. which means the amount is smaller, but its also wayyyy richer and more likely to cause tummy upsets.
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    07-17-2012, 11:17 PM
Green Broke
Tractor supply also sells timothy cubes. I have seen 50/50 timothy alfalfa mix cubes and pellets also. Beet pulp is good substitute as well. There are also hay extender and complete feeds with lots of fiber, not sure what is in them.
    07-17-2012, 11:27 PM
Originally Posted by CLaPorte432    
Alfalfa grows in this heat/drought. The grass is all dead.

I drive past my hay guys fields and that's all that's growing is alfalfa, not grass. which means the amount is smaller, but its also wayyyy richer and more likely to cause tummy upsets.
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The alfalfa is? I was always warned not to overuse alfalfa. I hope it doesnt come to that.
    07-18-2012, 12:36 AM
If alfalfa were so awful to feed, most of the horses in the west would be dead. Trust me they're doing just fine. I'm feeding straight alfalfa as it's the only hay i've been able to find. The only problem I have with it is they eat it all faster than grass. Alfalfa loves hot weather and can yield decent amounts with very little water. The price is also much lower rhan grass this year. Start stretching your grass hay by incorporating alfalfa now, not later.
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    07-18-2012, 01:17 AM
For those of you experiencing hay shortages you can feed oat straw as a forage stretcher. One flake per day per horse will help keep him from destroying everything if you have to feed pellets or cubes. For those who have to feed pellets and cubes, spread them out on the largest surface you are able to so that the horse nibbles them rather than bolts them down. I've scatteredthem in the snow or tossed them into a dry 150 gal water tank which I don't use for water in the winter. I have a large trangular feeder built into corner posts in the pasture. The sides are maybe 3" high. It was built solely for grain. The last thing you want to put pellets/cubes in is a deep bucket or corner feeder as the horse will fill his cheeks like a chipmunk chew it a bit then send it down. Unfortunately, it doesn't hang around long enough for the gut to extract much nutrition. Also, invest a few bucks in a slow mesh hay net or two. A few flakes stuffed in there will last much longer and the horse is forced to nibble which means better digestion. I hope this helps. I brought my two horses thro the winter one year by adding the oat straw (good long fiber with a few tasty morsels) two year old clover/timothy hay, grain. The horses did so well I cut back on their grain. If you head to a farm for oat straw see if the farmer has oats for sale. They are usually much cheaper than at the feed stores. Don't dismiss oats. Feed comanies would prefer that we buy their products but horses do well on oats.

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