Alfalfa Cubes vs. Pellets vs. Alfalfa Hay? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-08-2020, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Alfalfa Cubes vs. Pellets vs. Alfalfa Hay?

Hi there. I am struggling with soaked alfalfa cubes vs. Pellets vs. Hay. I know the basics about soaked cubes, but I am finding that there is so much waste. I have a 10 yo performance gelding, and he eats very slow. He was started on soaked cubes in November to add some weight. The results have been wonderful. He is at a small boarding facility and they soak in the morning for the evening feed and in the evening for the morning feed. After about a week his ground feed bin was almost have full with disintegrated cubes and when I dumped it out, I found larva (presumably from flies), and was disgusted. Today, about 4pm, I looked at his cubes soaking for his evening feed (from about 9am the same morning) and it was filled with live flies. (We are coming into fly season in Texas already!)To avoid a "fly problem" and perhaps the cubes soaking too long, I though maybe alfalfa Pellets would be an easier a better solution for my stable owner and my horse. He typicaly a pasture horse that is fed in his stall and does not stay in his stall very long after feeding. Are pellets a good alternative? Meaning can a 5 minute soak of pellets be better than an 8-10 hour soak of cubes? Or, should I just switch to an alfalfa hay? He has non-severe hind gut ulcers (being treated) but am unsure about feeding unsoaked Hay-Rite mini cubes...Thank you in advance!
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-08-2020, 11:03 PM
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My vet would tell you no, pellets do not do the same thing as cubes as quickly, easily and offer long stem forage the horse benefits most from.
I use alfalfa cubes....they soak for 2 - 3 hours then are fed....
The amount of time you refer to makes me think they are also fermenting, turning sour and if that not turn your horse off to eating them...just not going down that path.

You want them to soften faster, use warm/hot water, cuts time again to fast, fast, fast soak and feed.
Make sure they are well soaked and there is enough liquid the horse isn't eating dry cubes as he eats them.
My horses also eats his cubes slowly so indeed he needs extra time in his stall to finish his ration.
I feed about 3 pounds dry, once wet they are heavy and near fill a 5 gallon flat-back pail to the top I soak with that much water {3/4 full to start}...
It is incredible how much water cubes can absorb...

I use a 6 gallon flat bottom, deep sided pan on the stall floor to feed my guy from...
He is able to work the food with his mouth, finishing every morsel.
My horse is a very slow eater. Takes him about 45 minutes to lick that bucket clean of every piece and then some...clean as a whistle.

To me, there is no excuse for not allowing your horse to finish his ration before being put back out...
Flies, for goodness sake all it takes is to cover the bucket with a towel and flies can't get to the food...that is just gross and lazy on the barn workers. Shame on them.
Shame on them for not paying attention that the feed bin is not empty and just dumping on top of left over food..what if that contained medication/supplements your horse needs to be healthy...
Shame on them!!
Larvae...yea, think I would be having a serious discussion with barn management about what you've found.
Sadly, you probably dumped and cleaned the feed bin and now not have anything to present to that management to see what they suggest and can work with you about your valid concerns when you should of presented them with proof positive of the unfinished food and bugs...
I'm sorry but that is just gross and lazy on the part of the workers not paying attention to the animals needs...it also is a waste of your money throwing out those uneaten cubes.
Your horse is not benefiting as you think...think how much better it would be if he ate everything.
If you go to alfalfa hay will he have enough stall time to eat that completely?
And he still needs a regular ration of hay besides his alfalfa "extra" unless you are going to feed just alfalfa.


Please, please do not feed un-soaked cubes to your horse.
The risk of choke is huge as expansion starts as soon as cube and moisture, aka saliva, come together.
The throat is a long tube to have expansion take place in and risk is great for disaster....
Pellets also need time to soak thoroughly so still 30 - 45 minutes if you want to take away the choke factor feeding "dry" brings.
Maybe feeding alfalfa hay is the better way to go...but only a discussion with your barn manager is going to give you answers and a solution you all can work and live with.

Some things to think about...
...
jmo..
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Last edited by horselovinguy; 03-08-2020 at 11:18 PM.
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-08-2020, 11:12 PM
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I feed alfalfa cubes I'm feeding 2lbs in morning 2 lbs at night. I use hot water to soak. It takes 45 minutes and cubes are broken down ready to feed.

I've used alfalfa pellets before. Horse wouldn't eat them after about a month of feeding it. So far alfalfa cubes are a big hit they love them.

My horses are in my backyard so I'm not depending on a barn owner.
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post #4 of 13 Old 03-08-2020, 11:19 PM
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IMHO, pellets and/or cubes are far inferior to actual forage... ie alfalfa. They are a substitute for alfalfa when it is not available. Why not just feed a flake or two of alfalfa instead of soaking pellets or cubes?
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-09-2020, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the Info

Thank you for your response. I would think that if I switch to alfalfa hay, I would still need to do a slow transition from the cubes?

My barn owner is awesome actually, and this was an unexpected situation. I am merely trying to learn as much as I can to make an education decision that is best for everyone. I have a message to Hay Rite about the long soaking period and possible fermentation, and will post back when I hear from them.

Thanks again.
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post #6 of 13 Old 03-09-2020, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrystal View Post
Hi there. I am struggling with soaked alfalfa cubes vs. Pellets vs. Hay. I know the basics about soaked cubes, but I am finding that there is so much waste. I have a 10 yo performance gelding, and he eats very slow. He was started on soaked cubes in November to add some weight. The results have been wonderful. He is at a small boarding facility and they soak in the morning for the evening feed and in the evening for the morning feed. After about a week his ground feed bin was almost have full with disintegrated cubes and when I dumped it out, I found larva (presumably from flies), and was disgusted. Today, about 4pm, I looked at his cubes soaking for his evening feed (from about 9am the same morning) and it was filled with live flies. (We are coming into fly season in Texas already!)To avoid a "fly problem" and perhaps the cubes soaking too long, I though maybe alfalfa Pellets would be an easier a better solution for my stable owner and my horse. He typicaly a pasture horse that is fed in his stall and does not stay in his stall very long after feeding. Are pellets a good alternative? Meaning can a 5 minute soak of pellets be better than an 8-10 hour soak of cubes? Or, should I just switch to an alfalfa hay? He has non-severe hind gut ulcers (being treated) but am unsure about feeding unsoaked Hay-Rite mini cubes...Thank you in advance!

If you are able, REAL alfalfa hay is the BEST choice, over pellets or cubes. So if you can do that, do that!


I've always boarded my horses so it was not feasible for me to buy/store alfalfa hay, so I feed my horses alfalfa pellets instead. They don't need much as they are on pasture 24-7 anyway, but I like some good alfalfa in their tummies before riding, hauling, competing, etc. I feel it helps with ulcers.



Sidenote that none of my 3 stinkers would eat the pellets soaked! So mine eat them dry. Knock on wood, I have never had a problem with anyone choking.



You don't *have* to soak but there is less risk of choke if you can.

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post #7 of 13 Old 03-09-2020, 08:14 PM
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Can he have the alfalfa/timothy chopped hay?
One bucket of the alfalfa pellets and another for the chopped hay for his longer stem fiber needs?

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post #8 of 13 Old 05-02-2020, 10:04 PM
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Where I live, alfalfa hay is hard to come by. There is one man in this area growing it, and I try to get hay from him. I try to buy it all at once from a good cutting so that I know the entire cutting will be the same.
But there are times that I cannot get they hay and must feed cubes. It is the second best when the hay is not available. I feed alfalfa all year round. I have never had trouble with a "hot" horse from eating alfalfa. This along with a feed ration, you can't go wrong.

It is just the best hay that you can feed a horse, hands down in my opinion. I know there are people that don't feel the same way I do.
Here is a complete break down of alfalfa. No other hay has as many nutrients as alfalfa.

Alfalfa ingredients:
Vitamin A (high concentration)
Vitamin B's
Vitamin D
Thiamine
Riboflavin
Pantothenic Acid
Niacin
Pyridoxine
Choline
Betaine
Folic Acid
Crude proteins (16 - 25% in dry alfalfa)

Amino acids (% in alfalfa meal).
Tryptophan, 0.3 %
Aspartic Acid, 2.3%
Threonine, 1.0 %
Serine, 1.0%
Glutamic Acid, 2.7%
Proline, 1.2%
Glycine, 1.1%
Alanine, 1.1%
Cystine, 0.2%
Valine, 1.0%
Methionine, 0.3%
Isoleucine, 0.8%
Leucine, 1.6%
Tyrosine, 0.5%
Phenylalanine, 1.0%
Histidine, 0.4%
Lysine, Total, 1.1%
Arginine, 1.1%

Minerals (contained in dry alfalfa)
Potassium .75 - 3.5 %
Phosphorus .3 - .7%
Calcium 1 - 2 %
Magnesium .30 - 1 %
Sulphur .2 - .5 %
Manganese 30-200 ppm
Iron 20-250 ppm
Boron 20-80 ppm
Copper 5-20 ppm
Zinc 20-70 ppm
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-03-2020, 03:14 AM
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I also feel that alfalfa hay would be the best option. If your BO is having issues with soaking, it would be the easiest as well - cut strings and serve, no soaking to attract nasties. BUT, if alfalfa hay is not an option for whatever reason, personally I prefer the pellets. Less soaking time needed, and I've never had an issue with horses not liking them. It is also easier to get consistent feeds done, and (I feel) easier to add any supplements or whatever, should you need to do that. I've used alfalfa cubes and the long soak time always drives me nuts, but I do think they have a bit better forage than pellets. Not a ton, but a bit. Plus I always had issues with the centers of the cubes not soaking properly, even when I increased soaking time and crumbled them up to help the soaking process. Just not a big fan of cubes here I guess, but I know a lot of other people like using them.

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post #10 of 13 Old 05-03-2020, 11:24 AM
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I had a mare who needed a little addition to her grass hay and the vet said alfalfa. I bought bags of chopped alfalfa but I found it to be a bit dusty. I dampened it down and the mare ate it all.
Years ago I did have a horse choke on the pellets so they are a big NO for me.

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