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Why would alfalfa give diarrhea?

This is a discussion on Why would alfalfa give diarrhea? within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Can alpha hay cubes cause a horse diarrhea
  • Am i giving my mare too much alfalfa

 
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    11-11-2010, 11:56 AM
  #21
Weanling
Darn it, I'd heard all kinds of good things about the Vulcan Mind Meld too. Back to the DVDs I go....
     
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    11-11-2010, 12:00 PM
  #22
Showing
Don't forget the magickal, exorbitantly expensive carrot stick. Because, y'know, a lunge whip just won't do!
     
    11-11-2010, 12:36 PM
  #23
Foal
Thanks for the morning laugh you guys!
     
    11-11-2010, 06:12 PM
  #24
Weanling
I know right? They've had me laughing so hard I had to show the girls I work with.
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    11-13-2010, 07:31 AM
  #25
Weanling
ALFALFA DOES NOT CAUSE DIARRHEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AT least in the sense of sickness. Yes alfalfa will cause a loose stool, but not a viral infection ---- BIG DIFFERENCE!

The most common cause of diarrhea is a virus that infects the gut. The infection usually lasts for two days and is sometimes called "intestinal flu" or "stomach flu."


Almost any feed that is very high in digestible energy will go through the hind gut very quickly and the gut does not have enough time to properly reabsorb the water out of the hay before it is discharged. This is why animals on alfalfa will consume more water than animals on a coarse grass hay. This is also why hays like bermudagrass which can have very low relative feed value can cause impaction colics as they move so slowly through the hind gut that the hind gut absorbs way too much water out of the hay and the hay does not have any lubrication (water) to allow it too move on out the rectum.
     
    11-21-2010, 06:45 PM
  #26
Foal
Alfala is very rich that may be the problem
     
    11-21-2010, 08:31 PM
  #27
Green Broke
Production Acres- do you think alfalfa and bermuda being fed together, say 50/50 mix, is a good way to feed, and will negate some of the risks of feeding bermuda?

I live in Arizona, and the cheapest, most available hay is alfalfa. The second most available hay is bermuda. I have been giving my mare and 4 month old colt a 50/50 mix of both, because I worry that straight alfalfa may cause growth issues in the foal due to the high calcium/protein content. I am a big believer in alfalfa, but this is my first foal and I also worry about developmental orthopedic issues too. Hence, my giving them both hays, instead of straight alfalfa like I normally would.

The mare also has chronic, loose stools, although she seems very healthy and all my horses are dewormed every 8 weeks. So I have come to the conclusion that is just the way she is, perhaps due to the alfalfa. I have fed other horses for years and years and never had one with loose stools from alfalfa before. But I'm glad to hear that this may be "normal" for some horses being fed alfalfa, because she has been this way since I bought her (over a year) and she seems healthy and energetic, but her stools are looser than what I would consider "normal."

Anyway, I am assuming that alfalfa/bermuda together is a good mix? It's really my only option, other than feeding straight alfalfa or straight bermuda. I rarely ever see other kinds of hays available here.
     
    11-22-2010, 11:11 AM
  #28
Weanling
You really need to know the quality of the hay you are feeding. A 200+ rfv alfalfa will not go through any animal in a dry stool situation. A 120 rfv alfalfa will make good manure. Likewise, a 65 rfv bermuda will colic a horse quickly, but a 95 rfv bermuda will be a good hay! Mixing the two hays is a good idea, but still some knowledge of the quality would be helpful.
     
    11-23-2010, 10:56 PM
  #29
Green Broke
Thanks for your response.

I honestly don't know the nutritional value of my hay(!). They sell it as #1 or #2 quality horse hay, and I always get #1, because it seems to be the best quality. Sometimes #2 quality is musty or dusty or dirty or full of weeds. I am kind of picky on my alfalfa!

What I am feeding is leafy, green, and fine-stemmed. Probably too rich if anything, but I would rather have super nice alfalfa and dilute it down with bermuda than get hay that is musty and dirty and that I don't feel safe feeding.

So I guess I can't answer to the feed quality of my alfalfa, only that I try to buy the cleanest and best-looking available to me.
     

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