A way to grind/chop alfalfa stems? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 09-28-2019, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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A way to grind/chop alfalfa stems?

Hi all,
My 28yo Thoroughbred is holding his own on a good diet - beet pulp, grain, rice bran, soaked alfalfa cubes, grass - whatever he can eat with his compromised teeth. I got some decent third cutting alfalfa, of which he can eat the leaves... but the stems are wasted because he just can't chew them.

Any suggestions on how I might efficiently and inexpensively chop/grind up the stems into tiny pieces (like the alfalfa cubes I buy)?

I have a little hand ax, but how/where I'd chop it up i don't know, and it would take forever.
Grinder? (have to be like an industrial one, or hand crank one)

Suggestions?

thanks!
The Equestrian vagabond is offline  
post #2 of 14 Old 09-28-2019, 04:01 PM
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This has been in the minds of folks with senior horses for years ---- you would think by now some kind soul would have invented a small hay chopper for us.

I can tell you what doesn't work and that's a leaf mulcher. It's extremely noisy, dusty and messy. You would need to use it outdoors which is not fun in the cold of winter.

The best suggestion I can come up with is to buy a giant pair of scissors (tin snips), wear cotton gloves to hopefully avoid blisters, and start hand cutting.

If someone else has a better, faster, more efficient idea, patent it and come forth :) :)

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.
walkinthewalk is offline  
post #3 of 14 Old 09-28-2019, 04:15 PM
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I'm lucky because while my skinny horse also doesn't like to eat the stems, I can then turn around and feet the stems to the two fatties so they get some yummy alfalfa but not as much calories.

This is a weird suggestion, but could you make a pile of stems and go over it with a mulching lawn mower? I guess like @walkinthewalk 's leaf blower idea, though, it would also have to be outside.

I imagine you could do it in a food processor, but it would have to be a big food processor and it you'd still have to do it in small batches. And you'd probably have to cut it once to fit it in. At least that would be inside..?

I'm interested to see if anyone has any proven ideas here!
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post #4 of 14 Old 09-28-2019, 04:26 PM
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Around here one can buy bagged chopped alfalfa. It does seem to be a bit dusty so I dampen it. Horse likes it!

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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post #5 of 14 Old 09-28-2019, 04:51 PM
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My best idea would be a small mower with mulch/bagger system. Rake up the stems and run them over with the mower. Maybe dump the bag and repeat until chopped fine enough. Also a small yard chipper might work, but not industrial size;)
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post #6 of 14 Old 09-28-2019, 08:03 PM
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I used electric shrub shears. I had to cut down 2 bales worth total into shorter stems. They worked pretty well. It did take a long time, but unless you are using specialized machinery the shears are your best bet.
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post #7 of 14 Old 09-28-2019, 09:25 PM
Green Broke
 
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I also thought about this, but decided it is easier to feed the stems to the other horses. I tried a weed eater but wasn't real impressed with the results. I tried chopping by hand but the scissors made my hands cramp. If you find something that works, let us know.
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post #8 of 14 Old 09-28-2019, 11:41 PM
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Depending on the quantity involved I'd probably just use my electric mitre saw (easy to transfer but set up as stationary for safety and "chill" factor). You can buy a cheap or second hand one to see how you get along with it and have at it with that. I use it when I have to seriously prune my garden. Cram a handful of stalks and go at it. Sweep and voila. I live in the city so have to really cram the refuse sacks efficiently. I did used to use a jigsaw but got lazy.

Someone I asked said to make your own blender with a metal bin and a strimmer, but be sure to have a makeshift lid. Sounds good... in theory. I'd probably actually try it myself but am hesitant to suggest it to others but oh well :P

safety warning: be safe and wear goggles!

edit: if you wanna go mental at a bale I'd probably wedge it between two concrete blocks and have at it with a saw and roleplay "The Bale Killer".
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post #9 of 14 Old 09-29-2019, 04:10 PM
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Manual silage choppers. They aren't easy to find, are antique and you may want to buy two so you have parts if you need them. There are newer on the market you just have to look up silage chopper to find them.
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post #10 of 14 Old 10-01-2019, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I tried:
scissors, a meat grinder, and a food processor.
Meat grinder - no go.
food processor - not really much better than scissors.
I don't have electric shrub shears or a lawn mower; i will keep my eyes out for manual silage choppers.
So before I sit down and cut big buckets of leftover stems with scissors, first I have to make sure he's going to eat them! I tried soaking them a bit (because they still may be too big and sharp at 1-2" for him to chew), and mixing a bit of beet pulp and oats with it... and he mostly just licked up the beet pulp and oats. I wonder what makes the dried cubes that I buy and soak for him taste good.
I will let you know if I find manual silage choppers and if that works and if he will eat the product!
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