Sensitivity to Alfalfa? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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Sensitivity to Alfalfa?

So I've had my mustang colt for about 4 months now. He's doing great training wise. On the other hand, he's been getting the runs. It'll be bad for a little while, and then it gets better for a little while, to where I think that he's finally adjusting and doing well. For the first two months he was being fed alfalfa exclusively... then we started doing a half and half mix with grass hay. Lately he's been getting two flakes of alfalfa in the morning and grass hay the rest of the time, but the runs have come back with a vengeance.

I'm not sure what to do. Should I cut alfalfa completely out of the picture? Since he's still a youngster, I thought the higher protein and calcium in the alfalfa would be good for him while he's still developing and growing.

My riding instructor suggested mixing his alfalfa in with his other meals rather than to give him one meal of alfalfa and the rest of grass hay.

I guess it makes sense that the alfalfa might be too rich for his system, given that he comes from a place where he essentially lived on dry scrub. Could it be better to try a slow feeder so he's not hitting his system with large meals and then going for a few hours with nothing? I've given him probiotics, which may or may not have helped very much. Like I said, he seems to get better and then it will hit again.
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 03:37 PM
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It's quite likely that alfalfa is too rich for him. Like you said, he comes from a place where he lived on very low-protien, sparse vegetation. Maybe you could cut it out of his diet and instead feed grass or oat hay. For the extra goodies, you could get him on some sort of supplement?

It's common knowledge to feed little, often, but what if you gave him free choice grass hay?

Boomerang the Mustang was strictly on grass hay at the beginning. A while in, he began getting free choice, all-he-could-eat grass, and two heavy feedings of oat hay – morning and evening. He had a mineral block, monthly feedings of psyllium, and turnout time on an irrigated pasture daily. The little miscreant enjoyed it quite a lot! xD

He really thrived on that, and never had any issues with the runs or colic.

There's the little beast himself! (:

The hills were bathed in moonlight, the shadows not so stark;
Silver light reflected off his brown hide as he held me in the dark
I love you, Mudpie!
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Eolith View Post
I've given him probiotics, which may or may not have helped very much. Like I said, he seems to get better and then it will hit again.
We have a young filly that is the same way. Probiotics were semi sorta working. But once I started adding a cup of XTN to her evening feed, poof - runs all gone. XTN does have some probiotics in it. I figure it must of added the right balance to correct her system.
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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I think I likely will just cut the alfalfa completely out of his diet.

I am also looking into the slow feeding nets because the idea has always appealed to me and I think it might benefit him. If I did this, he would essentially get free choice. Plus, it'll be good for him to stay occupied.

My only concern is the feeding position with the nets. I've heard that it's better to have a horse eat from the ground as it is the most natural position, but the nets need to be hung on the wall to prevent getting legs and feet caught or anything. So does it really make a difference if they eat from a horizontal or vertical angle? Am I being paranoid?
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 06:41 PM
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Just a question but how much alfalfa are you feeding him? Lots of times people over feed with alfalfa because it doesn't look like enough when you for it out to their horses. Compared to grass hay usually you can cut down on the amount of alfalfa that is fed since it has a lot more protien in it. Personally I would keep it in his diet but maybe just reduce it some for starters.

Good Luck
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post #6 of 9 Old 03-06-2012, 10:43 AM
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Slow feed nets are great. Does your horse have shoes? Is he stalled or on turnout? I have heard that it is a possibility for the shoe to get caught in the net if they paw at it but my guys are all barefoot so I have never had a problem. I just chunk my slow feed bags out in the pasture. They seem to have fun rolling the bag around while they eat and it gets them moving a bit more.

If the alfalfa turns out to be too rich for him I don't think it would hurt to switch him to grass only. Most folks around me have only ever use grass hay, heck I had never even seen a bale of alfalfa until a few years ago. I had my guys hay and grass analyzed and give them a vit/mineral supplement to fill in the holes.
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post #7 of 9 Old 03-06-2012, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input from everyone. Yep, my colt is barefoot thanks to his big hard mustang hooves... so theoretically the nets shouldn't be a problem, but we all know how talented horses can be some of the time!

He's stalled at night and turned out in a round pen during the day. Hopefully soon he'll go out in a larger pasture with other horses during the day, once we're sure we can catch him easily.
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post #8 of 9 Old 03-06-2012, 10:28 PM
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When I first got my now mare (then a filly), I had this problem (not runny, just along the lines of mushy). She came off of grass hay and pasture. Just to rule out any probiotic problem, I got probios (sp). It made a small diff, but did not stop it. Then, I noticed that the cutting mattered. If the hay were a good stem and leaf mix, the trouble much leaf (protien), and it reappeared on some level. I also fed her just laken light for a couple of days to "test" the diet, it stopped it. The problem vastly improved as she matured.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.

Last edited by Missy May; 03-06-2012 at 10:31 PM.
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post #9 of 9 Old 03-10-2012, 11:18 AM
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Oh, and I forgot ... I tried "coconut macaroons" out of desperation. It did not help, but that doesn't mean it is always uneffective.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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