Feeding alfalfa when hay is scarce? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum

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post #11 of 28 Old 07-18-2012, 01:13 AM
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The June issue of Horse and rider has a fantastic article on exactly this. Not sure if the same article would be online at their website but its called How to handle a hay shortage and its got a ton of good information.
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post #12 of 28 Old 07-18-2012, 01:41 AM
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Gotta feed what you can get during hay shortages....and stock up ahead of time. Out here in central valley, CA we had a big time hay shortage last winter.....bales of hay went for $24 a bale when the year before they were $9.
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post #13 of 28 Old 07-18-2012, 01:46 AM
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Yep, oaten and wheaten hay is what we use over here - along with alfalfa of course. IIRC wheaten has a higher simple carb content and oaten is rich in calcium. But I might be wrong, it's been a while since I've studied the nutrition analyses.
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post #14 of 28 Old 07-18-2012, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by EvilHorseOfDoom View Post
Yep, oaten and wheaten hay is what we use over here - along with alfalfa of course. IIRC wheaten has a higher simple carb content and oaten is rich in calcium. But I might be wrong, it's been a while since I've studied the nutrition analyses.
Same here. San Joaquin Valley ... 3way grain hay and alfalfa about half and half for balancing the NSC and protein content. Grass hay is very hard to find, Timothy /Orchard the same and if you find it it's much more expensive than alfalfa and 3way.
I'd also look into good oat straw together with alfalfa, pelleted or not. When I bought my two horses that was all they ate, oat straw. The Arab was looking just fine, the QH was underweight, but that was because they had only two flakes a day, were together, and the Arab is the boss man, so he ate most of it......
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post #15 of 28 Old 07-18-2012, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Oldhorselady View Post
Gotta feed what you can get during hay shortages....and stock up ahead of time. Out here in central valley, CA we had a big time hay shortage last winter.....bales of hay went for $24 a bale when the year before they were $9.
WHAT?! You lucky duck. Where I am in CA went from $19 last winter to $24 right now..

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post #16 of 28 Old 07-18-2012, 01:53 PM
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WHAT?! You lucky duck. Where I am in CA went from $19 last winter to $24 right now..
Geeeezzzzzz...and I thought we pay pharmacy prices here ....at the uppity feedstore 20 for alfalfa, 19 for Timothy /orchard and 15 for 3 way. Currently farmer-direct it's between 12 and 15 for alfalfa and 10 for 3 way. No Timothy/orchard here. Where exactly are you?
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post #17 of 28 Old 07-18-2012, 04:06 PM
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Geeeezzzzzz...and I thought we pay pharmacy prices here ....at the uppity feedstore 20 for alfalfa, 19 for Timothy /orchard and 15 for 3 way. Currently farmer-direct it's between 12 and 15 for alfalfa and 10 for 3 way. No Timothy/orchard here. Where exactly are you?
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We are going up to $7 a bale here in Nebraska, when they used to be around $4. And I thought that was bad...


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post #18 of 28 Old 07-18-2012, 04:38 PM
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I have fed alfalfa hay, timothy cubes and oat straw in the past.

I found first cut alfalfa preferable for the easy keepers as the stems and stalks are more 'robust' and that slowed down the power eaters abit. The first cut did have some grass in it so I fed at a rate that amounted to, by weight, approximately two thirds of what I would have fed in grass hay. I used second cut (lots of yummy leaf in it) on a hard keeper with dental problems for many years -- only a couple of flakes a day as he had a large pelleted seniors feed ration.

I used timothy cubes to supplement some poor quality hay - that's all that was available that year. I found it interesting that the horses ate the hay first then the cubes. But they got through the winter fine.

I used oat straw to supplement some good hay - good hay was scarce that year but oat straw plentiful. While the hay was rationed, I was quite generous with the oat straw and it was a good winter for the horses. One thing with oat straw that I had been taught was to watch out for frost -- apparently if there is a frost on the crop while it is standing it can 'fix' nitrates in the stalk thus making it toxic for horses; frost is not a concern on straw that is already baled. My sister (the same year as I got mine) was concerned with this as she was about to buy from a different location than mine; she took a sample to the lab for analysis and it was fine.
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post #19 of 28 Old 07-18-2012, 08:21 PM
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I bought the whole field of grass hay behind my house, so I'm hoping it grows. It seems to be growing slowly :(. Hopefully the down pour we had a few days ago helps! I think the farmer even irrigated it just a few days before the rain storm.
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post #20 of 28 Old 07-19-2012, 12:11 AM
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In Arizona everyone feeds alfalfa. It is the cheapest hay and you can hardly find anything else consistently. My guys are eating straight alfalfa with only the occasional bale of bermuda mixed in as a treat (grass is expensive out here).

So yes, horses thrive on alfalfa quite well. I don't know why folks are afraid to feed it. It is a little high in calcium and protein when fed as the only hay source but if you use it to stretch your grass hay, you have the perfect hay mixture.

I think I would be afraid my horses would loose weight and look poor on only grass hay. Then again, it's hard to find good grass hay (that you can afford) in Arizona.
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