Will the increase in alfalfa percent have negative effects on my mare?

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Will the increase in alfalfa percent have negative effects on my mare?

This is a discussion on Will the increase in alfalfa percent have negative effects on my mare? within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Grass alfalfa mix for horses percent
  • Alfalfa Hay Effects on Horses

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    11-09-2012, 09:30 PM
Will the increase in alfalfa percent have negative effects on my mare?

I'm purchasing a new mare tomorrow, and she's generally used to having hay with 20% of alfalfa. The owner suggested I go no higher then 20% but gave me little reason, and I have someone who can have bales with 40% alfalfa delivered to me by the time the mare is on the new property. Would this increase in percent be dangerous for her? I'll be riding her often on trails, probably every day, and so I'm wondering if this would be a bad idea or not. Please let me know, thanks!
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    11-09-2012, 09:36 PM
I would find out why... can't really help unless I know why.
    11-09-2012, 09:42 PM
Green Broke
I can't think of any reason why 20% would be OK, but not 40%. Can you ask the seller to clarify her reasoning?
    11-10-2012, 10:58 AM
Talked to the owner, and we should be totally fine. Hay was ordered, and there should be no problem. Thanks everyone. <3
    11-11-2012, 02:26 AM

I can think of 2 main reasons why 20% & no higher would be good.

Alfalfa is very high in calcium, protein & other nutrients that can be problematic if overfed. Nutritional balance is important for optimum health, so in that regard, higher % alfalfa may be fine, but other ingreds & supps of the diet should be considered, along with age & health of the horse as to whether a high protein diet may or may not be problematic.

Alfalfa is quite high in energy(though lower sugar than grass hay), so often not great for 'easy keepers' & if fed to horses in 'good condition' should be fed sparingly & with consideration to not allowing them to get too fat on it.
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    11-11-2012, 07:43 AM
My easy keepers would explode on that much alfalfa. Luckily most hay here is mixed grass with only a taste of alfalfa here and there.

I had one horse once where I wanted to give her a little alfalfa to help with her weight and could never find hay that was mostly alfalfa. Used to one field in the area but the guy stopped caring about the hay so I gave up. Field is ruined now and they have been cutting it with a brush hog it's so bad.
    11-12-2012, 12:19 AM
Green Broke
It's all in where you live I guess. Here in Arizona almost everyone feeds straight alfalfa. Grass hay is very expensive.

So I am feeding almost straight alfalfa with just a flake of bermuda here and there for my youngster to try to get him a more balanced diet. I have always heard that if you can get a 50/50 mix of grass to alfalfa that would be close to perfect.

It's kind of funny how what is "normal" depends so highly on where you live. I would love to find a quality alfalfa mix without paying a king's ransom for it. It's the grass that is expensive out west!
    11-12-2012, 12:54 AM
^Ah, yes, 'normal' changes with miles, time, cultures, etc. That's one reason why 'because that's what we do around here' isn't a good enough reason IMO. We all do what we feel is best, given the restraints of our situation/location - & often the 'real world' isn't as close as we'd like to the 'ideal' one. Just worth learning about & considering all those pros & cons!
    11-12-2012, 07:00 AM
I think our cold wet springs are hard on the alfalfa. I've tried to over seed some in my pasture with no luck, several times. Not about to fuss over it. The hay fields where I do see it grow well are near the western side of VT, near the NY border where the big dairies still are. Suspicion is they fuss over it and lime the daylights out of it to get the big bucks from the industrial sized dairy farms. Average precipitation here is 43.5 inches. The soils are old and any readily water soluble minerals have since leeched way down deep.
    11-12-2012, 07:06 AM
I know the grain substitute I use there are 2 different ones depending on what forage quality the horse is getting

I use the Enrich 32 but I think the Enrich 12 is for a horse with a high quality forage like alfalfa would be

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