Grass hay vs Alfalfa - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 04-14-2013, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Grass hay vs Alfalfa

Well its getting to the end of winter here and we're looking at about a month's worth of hay in our barn :( I've recently started adding alfalfa cubes to my horses' diet in an effort to stretch the hay at least until mid-May, when we can get a decent amount of hay in.

My question is, how many pounds of alfalfa cubes can replace how many pounds of regular timothy hay? Currently they're only getting very little and working up the poundage. When is it okay to start cutting hay back? Any insight is appreciated :)
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-14-2013, 10:52 PM
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Technically you *can* feed alfalfa only although I wouldn't since there is some discussion on it being hard on their kidneys (primarily in young horses).

I try and feed no more than 1/3 alfalfa 2/3 hay. Have you thought about adding in timothy pellets?
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post #3 of 14 Old 04-14-2013, 11:03 PM
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Cubes can be used to replace hay at a 1:1 ratio, and can be substituted for a horse's entire forage ration. If your worried about replacing Timothy with alfalfa maybe you could look for the alf/Tim cubes. As far as how much alfalfa your horse can handle, that's an individual thing and the best way to figure it out is to gradually up the alfalfa and reduce the Timothy and judge for yourself how he looks and feels on a daily basis.
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post #4 of 14 Old 04-14-2013, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I think I will either try to get more timothy cubes or a timothy/alfalfa mix.

I haven't noticed much difference other than they seem much less interested in the timothy hay vs their alfalfa mush... But it's variety in a pretty boring diet lol
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post #5 of 14 Old 04-14-2013, 11:32 PM
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We don't feed alfalfa. We find it to be fattening to horses, and it can also cause laminitis. And horses that have had laminitis in the past are more suceptible to getting it again, so alfalfa will increase the chance of them getting it again... And since my horse has had laminitis, she can't have any alfalfa at all

"It is the difficult horses that have the most to teach you" - Double Dan Horsemanship
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post #6 of 14 Old 04-15-2013, 12:23 AM
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I use alfalfa/ timothy pellets go stretch minimal grain meals. If I would want to stretch my hay I would do it the same way. But give more pellets, soaked, together with whatever hard feed/supplements they're getting, during the day, and give hay for the night.
Alfalfa IS higher in calories, calcium and protein than grass hay, but does not cause laminitis. It is, in fact, lower in NSC than timothy or grass hay. It will get an already fat horse fatter and that can cause laminitis. But not because of the alfalfa, rather because of overfeeding.
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post #7 of 14 Old 04-15-2013, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deserthorsewoman View Post
I use alfalfa/ timothy pellets go stretch minimal grain meals. If I would want to stretch my hay I would do it the same way. But give more pellets, soaked, together with whatever hard feed/supplements they're getting, during the day, and give hay for the night.
Alfalfa IS higher in calories, calcium and protein than grass hay, but does not cause laminitis. It is, in fact, lower in NSC than timothy or grass hay. It will get an already fat horse fatter and that can cause laminitis. But not because of the alfalfa, rather because of overfeeding.
Thanks for the great info- I knew that alfalfa was higher in protein but didn't know it was higher in calories as well. My 2 geldings are not fat but my older mare is a solid 6, maybe 7 :( I'll need to rethink her diet
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post #8 of 14 Old 04-15-2013, 10:41 AM
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Grass hay 900 calories per pound
Alfalfa 1190 calories per pound

Have you looked into slowfeeder nets?
I weighed all hay going in and what was leftover after 24hours for a month when feeding on the ground, and another month with the nets.
My horses went from 25 lbs/ head to 15. Both free choice. After the getting used to- phase they slowed down, eating little often, are much calmer, hardly say anything when their "sweetfeed"(soaked a-pellets and supplements) come, and blimp is steadily trimming down, the other two are perfect. Most amazing.
Slow Feeding Horses on Paddock Paradise Tracks - Paddock Paradise Wiki
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post #9 of 14 Old 04-15-2013, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deserthorsewoman View Post
Grass hay 900 calories per pound
Alfalfa 1190 calories per pound

Have you looked into slowfeeder nets?
I weighed all hay going in and what was leftover after 24hours for a month when feeding on the ground, and another month with the nets.
My horses went from 25 lbs/ head to 15. Both free choice. After the getting used to- phase they slowed down, eating little often, are much calmer, hardly say anything when their "sweetfeed"(soaked a-pellets and supplements) come, and blimp is steadily trimming down, the other two are perfect. Most amazing.
Slow Feeding Horses on Paddock Paradise Tracks - Paddock Paradise Wiki
Oh my gosh! I need that! I've been trying to feed on the ground off of rubber mats but they still waste so much! Thanks so much for that site!
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post #10 of 14 Old 04-15-2013, 12:54 PM
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You're so welcome
I think these slowfeeders are the best thing since sliced bread, seriously.
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