Lucerne Hay & Easy Keepers
I've just been browsing some websites about lucerne hay, as my horse is fed lucerne chaff after being worked along with EasiResponse, and I was just curious about the nutritional value of this particular hay. One website that I saw had a bit about how lucerne hay can cause easy keepers to put on weight more than is desired. I haven't done much research yet, but I just wanted to ask about this.
My mare is most likely classified an "easy keeper" - she's out in the pasture 24/7 and is only fed after being worked, and she keeps condition and weight easily.
Should I be considering a different type of hay to feed my horse? She doesn't get much, one big scoop which is probably... 10 cups?? I'm really not sure. But she is prettty fat at the moment and I was wondering if this could be contributing to it? As discussed in a previous thread, I have cut down her chaff and increased her exercise which should help he rlose some weight, but I just wanted some feedback. Is she fed enough chaff that it is possible to be affecting her weight because of the type of chaff?
Some people might not recognize "Lucerne". In the USA it is called Alfalfa hay.
I was told by my farrier---who is also an equine vet---that it is best to feed them first cut grass hay than the alfalfa (lucerne). The alfalfa has too much protein?---I beleive that is what he said. Anyway, he has seemed to be very knowledgeable and a very good horseperson.:-)
it is higher in calories then a grass hay type would be ..
Protien is GOOD for a horse helps to rebuild muscles ..
If your horse is keeping her weight well, even when worked regularly, then probably don't need the alfalfa.
Protein isn't so much the problem, really. It's the high calorie content. Unless your horse is growing, lactating or struggles to maintain a healthy weight, she probably would be better off with just grass hay or more bulky fiber that is lower in calories. Overfeeding can contribute to laminitis or other health issues. Your horse would be happier getting the opportunity to chew on lower calorie hay all day than to just have a few mouthfuls of energy dense feed and then having a long time to wait for the next "meal". Plus, alfalfa is usually more expensive, so you would be wasting your money if you don't need to feed it.
I'm Australia like you, so Don't know if this helps. Our horses are out on pasture 24/7 also. They get fed one small scoop of a mixed feed daily, and this is only so they can get Apple Cider Vinegar which my pony has to be on at the moment. This is all they get, and even when in heavy work we only increase the size of the scoop. they are all fat, except for whichever one happens to eb in full work at the time, and he will be fit looking, buu nowhere near skinny.
In regards to hay. I feed Lucerne, simply because my horse is on pasture, why would I give him pasture hay when it's already out there? BUT, we make sure to buy lucerne that is much more stalk than leaf. This ensures that the hay is more fibre/roughage than the rich and sweet leaf of the lucerne. It takes them longer to eat, they need to chew it more, and all round we find it better for our horses. the only time we feed ours pasture/meadow hay is when they are OFF pasture.
If you horse is on decent pasture 24/7, I would suggest that you could cut the chaff. She is getting some hardfeed as well correct? I would think that the hardfeed would be enough to replace anything she may have lost throughout the workout.
No probs :]
Lucerne or Alfalfa, is like a sponge! It can absorb the nutrients in the ground better then any other hay grown, So the nutrients and minerals in the ground it's grown in can vary! As well as the fertilizer placed in the fields.
Here we have county extensions that will test samples for us ( free of charge ) and let us know exactly what we are feeding!
In Arkansas, the hay tested no more then 11% protein, And in the high desert of California, It tested closer to 24%!
Keep in mind though we only found one Alfalfa grower in the whole state!
This is just an example of how the hay can vary from state to state, or in this case country:-P
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