From Grain to Alfalfa?
So I'm gonna be moving from NC to the Fallbrook area in So Cal and I've been told by certain farms out there that they don't grain their horses they just give them alfalfa. My horse has never had alfalfa and Im really concerned about colic and I want him to have a nice smooth transition. Right now he gets a scoop and a half of grain i think 10% protein. What is the best way to transition him?
start making the change NOW.. slowly
Pick up a good vitamin/mineral supplement designed to go with an alfalfa based diet.
if they hay with no grain it is actually a healtier diet then what he is on now. just don't forget that alfalfa is NOT a balanced diet and that some horses have problems with it
Alfalfa cubes or hay? And does it go as supplement kind or all hay is just alfalfa (no grass)?
I give my horses small flake each in evening and sometime in morning when it's too cold. Don't do anything special: just put flakes on top of the grass hay. I do give grain too though (but very little, more like a praise and to mix with supplement).
I used to board my horses in Fallbrook. Grass hay of all kinds is available out there. Call ahead to the feed stores to find out what you can buy and for how much. If you'll be boarding, contact local stables and secure a spot NOW and find out what they feed.
Be sure to take 2-3 bales per horse of your current hay with you, and a bag of grain for each horse. You want to make diet changes slowly, over 1-2 weeks minimum.
I used to feed Bermuda and Alfalfa hay, half and half, and didn't give any grain, just a vitamin supplement in a little beet pulp. Most horses will do fine on Alfalfa, if you introduce it to them slowly.
Keep in mind that bales of hay in California are much heavier than bales in the South and South East, 100-125 lbs for Alfalfa and 70-90 lbs for grass hay. You'll want to weigh out what you feed now, or approximate the weight you feed per day based on the average weight of your bales and the amount of the bale each horse gets. Keep a feed diary so you can keep track. When you get to CA, feed half your old hay and half the new hay (until the old hay runs out), keeping the weight the same as you were feeding at home.
Alfalfa is much more nutrient dense and higher in digestible energy, so you'll feed much less of it than of the Bermuda or grass hay. If you normally feed 20 lbs a day of Bermuda and you decide to feed half and half, then you'll be feeding 10 lbs of Bermuda and 6-8 lbs of Alfalfa (depending on the cutting). Does that make sense?
Alfalfa is appropriate for most horses if they need more calories than they get from grass hay for their work load, breed, type, etc. It's safer than grain to feed. Exceptions being horses who have obesity issues and don't need the calories. It's not high in sugar, as used to be thought, and the protein is not excessive if the horse is not getting other high-protien feeds. THe calcium is imbalanced, but you should have the other feed analyzed before adding supplements, as some feed will balance it out without supplements.
Just make the change gradual and you will be ok.
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