Feeding Alfalfa cubes
I feed my horse and another boarders horse every day. The other horse is older; the owner says 17 but I looked at his teeth and his general condition and I'm thinking more like 27. He doesn't know a lot about horses and only wants to feed him cubes. I've been looking at his poop, and he has big clumps of alfalfa that he isn't digesting. I asked him when he got his teeth done last, and he told me last year.. but I looked in his mouth and his fronts have so much wear that I don't think any amount of floating is going to fix the gap he has between his molars when he chews. I asked him why he doesn't feed hay, and he says because the horse won't eat the stems. He won't even consider orchard grass or timothy because he doesn't think he will hold weight with that, but as I said this guy doesn't know anything and doesn't want to take advice. So I figure the only way to remedy this problem is to soak the cubes so that the horse can actually chew them. I have never fed cubes, so I'm wondering what the best method of this is? He also gets LMF Sr. but the owner puts out plastic bags (I'm not even joking) that he has measured out to the exact horses weight. I would feed him twice as much as he's getting, but Its hard when it's in plastic bags lol. Anyway, any advice and dos and don't on soaking the cubes would be wonderful.
You didn't say - but what is the horse's current condition? Is it so poor that he needs more weight?
If the horse is having teeth problems from age, then regular hay is not going to help because he will have more problems chewing on the regular hay. And Alfalfa would have higher protein to help keep weight on the horse than orchard or any other grass hay. Cubes or senior feed would be the way to go.
As to the cubes, when we fed them in the past we put them in a bucket and put enough water on them to just cover them. If you use warm water they will soak it up really fast, but if its cooler water give it 15 -20 minutes to soak. Check the centers of the cubes to make sure they are moist. You may have to add a little water, but after 2-3 feedings you will have a good idea on how much water you need to get those centers moist. Soaking cubes is more desireable than dry because the dust from the dry can irritate the respritory tract and there is a higher chance for choking.
If the owner is measuring out the senior feed - I hope he is following the directions on the bag. That should meet the horse's requirements. And really, its his horse, and you have no right to feed more than he wants - and if the horse should founder due to the extra feed, that could fall as liability on your shoulders. I would also let him know that you are soaking the alfalfa and why so that he is aware of it.
Have you talked with this owner about your concerns? There might be more problems here than just teeth and feed. If he is getting the proper amount of senior feed and is not digesting his hay and staying on the thinner side, there might be problems with his digestive tract such as ulcers as well.
Re: Feeding Alfalfa cubes
We have a 30 year old gelding that doesn't have usable teeth.
We buy Alfalfa pellets and soak those for him along with his senior pellets, beet pulp crumbles, and a senior powder feed. The alfalfa pellets will soak up in a good 15 minutes or so (use warm water when it is cold).
Floating the teeth did make our old guy more comfortable. He nibbles at grass and hay but doesn't get a lot out of it.
The cubes are fine if they are wetted down. He'll actually get more nutrition from the cubes that way then trying to eat hay.
Let the owner know that older horses need their teeth checked every 6 months, not once a year like younger horses can get away with.
Cat and the others are giving you great advise. I only want to add that you should let your border know in writing so there is no confusion. The note should include your recommendations and his/her response.
Keep a log of the horse's condition and use a tape to log his weight. The tape is not exactly accurate but it will show you loss or gain.
Thank tou very much for the responses, and I will start soaking his cubes. He is pretty thin, and his general condition is fairly bad. He's limping on one hind and has a bad eye infection. However, this person is not my boarder, and I am not actually responsible for feeding him. I have arranged with the boarder for me to look after him since the person that does board the horses doesn't know anything. The guy who boards them just wants to make money, and he has fed the horses mulch, dry beet pulp, wrong amounts, etc... so I just told him that I have no problem feeding this other guys horse and the boarder is happy that I'm doing it. He only got the pony last week, bought it from a boarding stable and he came in this condition. I'm pretty sure they just completely lied to him about everything in order to sell him the pony, but since being here he is already coming around.
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