Birdsfoot trefoil in pasture? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 05-10-2020, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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Birdsfoot trefoil in pasture?

My husband has a masters in horticulture so he's of great help in pasture management, however, he doesn't always know a lot about horse nutrition. He suggested we mix birdsfoot trefoil in with the timothy in one of our pastures as a nitrogen-fixing plant. However, it's a legume in the clover family. Apparently, it can taste a bit bitter and some horses don't much care for it. It's not a problem if the horses don't eat it since we're not going to plant a lot of it, just a little among the timothy as a way for the pasture to maintain good nitrogen levels so the timothy grows better.

However, I generally don't feed legume hay to my horses because my older horse Harley is at risk for IR (his levels are good currently, but that's probably because I've been so cautious about his diet). He also had a very bad reaction to alsike clover, which I know they shouldn't have at all (I had to close a pasture, plow it all under, and replant last summer).

The research that I've done doesn't say anything bad about birdsfoot trefoil, other than some horses don't like it and will eat around it. Does anyone here have any advice about it? Should I give my husband the ok to plant a bit of it among the timothy?
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post #2 of 8 Old 05-10-2020, 10:02 AM
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I don't know anything about the Birdsfoot. My pastures have a little white and red clover mix in Fescue and Brome. The horses don't hone in on it and eat it in moderation. What has always bothered me is how a horse will grub down tight the grass in one area yet grass next to it looks the same to the eye yet they won't touch it. There has to be a difference in taste but, I've never figured out what it is. I do know mine will hunt down a Dandelion just to eat the bloom and a little of the green leafy plant.
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post #3 of 8 Old 05-10-2020, 12:07 PM
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Paragraph 4 will be of particular interest to you:)

https://ker.com/equinews/birdsfoot-trefoil-horses/
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A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #4 of 8 Old 05-10-2020, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walkinthewalk View Post
Paragraph 4 will be of particular interest to you:)

https://ker.com/equinews/birdsfoot-trefoil-horses/
Indeed!!! Thank you @walkinthewalk ! You're the best! So it looks like we will not be seeding Trefoil.
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post #5 of 8 Old 05-10-2020, 04:19 PM
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Alsike fed can cause liver toxicity and photosensitivity plus all kinds of other issues. Not a horse clover. The birds foot trefoil is excellent for fixing nitrogen and would be one of those in a horse's herbal remedy kit. There are those that will graze it and don't mind the bitter. Others will use it to help relieve tummy troubles of the bloat variety.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #6 of 8 Old 05-10-2020, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QtrBel View Post
Alsike fed can cause liver toxicity and photosensitivity plus all kinds of other issues. Not a horse clover. The birds foot trefoil is excellent for fixing nitrogen and would be one of those in a horse's herbal remedy kit. There are those that will graze it and don't mind the bitter. Others will use it to help relieve tummy troubles of the bloat variety.
Yes, I know what alsike can do. In the article that @walkinthewalk posted, they mention that birdsfoot trefoil can also grow the same kind of mold that makes alsike clover toxic so I won't be taking the chance. In some locations, maybe that's not an issue, but where my horses got sores all over their muzzles and legs from the alsike clover, I will take that as an indication that in my climate at least, there is a risk that the same will happen with the trefoil.
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post #7 of 8 Old 05-11-2020, 05:08 PM
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You could look at black medic and silver cinquefoil.
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Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #8 of 8 Old 05-11-2020, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by QtrBel View Post
You could look at black medic and silver cinquefoil.
Thanks - will do. It would really be nice to be able to add a nitrogen-fixing plant. I don't know anything about those, but will read up on them.
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