New horse mom and terrified! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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New horse mom and terrified!

I’m a new horse mom to a mid 20s handsome fella! As a new mamma I’m terrified to mess him up, he’s eating alfalfa cubes currently and just want to make sure he’s getting what he needs more accurately! He is currently getting about half a Home Depot 5 gallon bucket a day. To little? To much? Thanks for all the help❤️
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post #2 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 12:33 AM
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You feed according to weight not volume. I believe it is 2 to 3% of your horses total weight in roughage. So if your horse weighs a thousand pounds then you would feed him 20 lb of hay or in your case, cubes. Make sure you give him probably about 5 lb about four times a day ideally. Horses are foragers, they are meant to eat little bits all the time, as in grazing. Not everyone has the time to go out four times a day and feed their horse so just split it up as much as you can. Unless he has access to pasture as well, then he will do well with getting those 20 lb split into two meals.

Don't be scared, enjoy your horse!

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post #3 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 12:34 AM
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do you have any information as to what he has been eating regularly, before you bought him?


I'm not used to to thinking in terms of buckets of alfalfa cubes. Perhaps you'd like to share with us more about his actual living situations?

oh, and, welcome to the forum . . please don't feel uncomfortable to ask questions some might call 'stupid'
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post #4 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 04:13 AM
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Hi & welcome to the forum, welcome to the world of horses!

In addition to Waresbear's great info, if he isn't getting anything else aside from the alfalfa, it would be good, IMO to change to a half & half, or mostly grass hay blend. Alfalfa, IMO, is a great food for horses, but it is very rich, high energy and esp if fed as the sole or majority of the ration, is quite imbalanced nutritionally. So I'd give attention to analysing the diet, then supping with appropriate nutrients to ensure a balanced diet. Tho I'd personally do that anyway, as whatever the forage, it's likely imbalanced/deficient in some stuff.

So, assuming he doesn't get any grazing or other hay, horses have very small stomachs, and as Wares said, aren't built to go hungry for many hours in between 'meals'. So, if you haven't got hours to spare, to go out there & give him small feeds multiple times every day, a 'slow feeder' is a great investment. *I don't know much about types for 'hard feed' tho, but I'd avoid the metal grate types, as they can damage a horse's teeth & gums. If you fed hay instead of cubes, then you can put it in a small holed net, so the horse can spent the day picking out little bits, rather than gorging on the same amount & then going hungry the rest of the day.
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post #5 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 06:22 AM
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Welcome to the Forum...


From your avatar picture what a beautiful horse...

We all started down the road of horse and ownership with butterflies in our stomach and lots to learn so you are not alone.
So, is your horse boarded in a barn where the barn supplies and feeds or do you do all yourself or are you at home or some combination of any of those things?

Horses are grazers and have small stomachs so less food fed more often over a period of time works best for them.
Cubes are fine if that is all you can provide but actual hay would be preferable in a grass mix since each type of grass offers different nutrient parts to a diet needed.
Alfalfa is a great food, but rich and many horses don't need such top of the line food fed only...they do best with a variety of grasses, hay and in your case cubes offered.
Is cubes the only thing your horse eats or is there are foodstuffs given? IF so exactly what are they and how much of each?

I saw from your IP you are from the mid-west more westcoast area and know out their it is common alfalfa is what they eat, period.
So...only other part of that to offer is many who feed cubes soak or at least moisten them as being dry they absorb a lot of moisture as they travel the digestive tract starting in the mouth and that can lead to dehydration issues if not addressed carefully, hence soaking for a bit before feeding is done.

All foods of feed, hay, cubes are fed by dry weight not volume with horses.
Hay/cubes are fed to maintain weight at about 2 - 3% of horses weight so a 1000 pound horse would be fed between 20 - 30 pounds of forage products optimally to maintain, in your case they are probably going to gain being fed that much rich a day...
Make sure your horse has more than a adequate supply of fresh clean water when eating and if possible keep an eye to how much he is drinking so you know he gets enough water to hydrate those cubes and not make a blockage from to dry suddenly meets intestinal wet and expansion and a roadblock of the gut happens...water and lots of it, hence soak/moisten those cubes to start and more water always offered is needed..

Welcome to horse ownership and new gray hair arriving.
Could do without the additional gray on my head but horses are here to stay!!

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 11:45 AM
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Horses, can indeed do well on just cubes. I know of several people who just feed their horses cubes. I think if you look on the bag of straight alfalfa cubes, there's other roughages in there to make it up so it's not as rich as a bale of alfalfa. Also it's processed a bit to make those cubes so you lose more of the richness, becomes more fiber. I asked one older lady that has other animals as well as two horses why she just feeds cubes, she buys it in bulk from a farm suppler. She said dealing with hay suppliers was like dealing with drug dealers, lol. She said it was a bit more expensive, sometimes, depending on Hay prices, but way less labor intensive and required less room for storage. Made sense. About 25 years ago we had a bad drought here, hay was in short supply. Unless you irrigated, all pastures were burnt for two months during the summer. I had two horses in for training, and I ran out of hay. I couldn't drive 3 hours out of town to pick up a load, but a friend of mine was bringing in farm supplies once a week. I got bags and bags of alfalfa cubes from her for a reasonable price. My horse plus the two I had in training for the summer did very well on it. What I did was I spread out the cubes all over their paddocks, so they had to go foraging for it.
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post #7 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Let me see if I can cover some of these question and thank you all for the help!!
He has been on cubes before we got him,
He is kept at our home not stable
Not given anything in past besides cubes and pasture grass
Does not have access to pasture at the moment
I do soak the cubes

I should add a hay net for extra goodness during the day if I’m not
home to do multiple feedings?!!
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post #8 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 12:42 PM
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I fed alfalfa/oat cubes only for over a decade. Never had any problems with them. I would buy in bulk (1400-1600 lbs. a go). I only changed to baled hay because my cube guy went out of business. If I had a reliable source of cubes, I would definitely change back - keeps the horses good, easy to store, less waste. As been said, you feed by weight by volume. Soaking is not necessary (I never soaked mine), but, of course, there is no harm in soaking them.

My horses, like many in CA, are only on alfalfa (now baled hay). They are doing fine on it and there is no problem. Preferrably I would like to add a little grass hay, but that is almost twice what alfalfa is. So they stay on alfalfa.
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post #9 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Fun fact ... also can’t figure out how to reply to anyone without marking separate post🏻
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post #10 of 22 Old 09-16-2020, 07:32 PM
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I get that you don't have access to pasture - that's not uncommon. But is he getting any turnout? Like in a paddock? Is there any reason you're not feeding any hay? Because yes, you need to give him access to forage (ie, grass or hay) for as much of the day as possible. Horses are not like dogs, as everyone has explained above: they need to have something in their stomachs most of the time for their digestive systems to work properly. They are grazers, meaning, they are built to eat a little bit at a time all day long. They don't even sleep for very long, mostly they nap, and eat in between. So the more forage you can provide, in as many feedings as possible, the better. Slow-feeder nets are a great way to accomplish this if you can't physically provide feedings more than twice a day. If the holes in the net are too big, he'll likely eat the hay very quickly and still have an empty stomach most of the day. I like 1" holes, but they say you should start with 2" holes and make your way down once they've figured how to get hay out of the nets. Hay is also considerably cheaper than alfalfa cubes, but of course, that may depend on where you live.

Do you have any other animals to keep him company? Horses are herd animals, but will also bond with ponies, minis, goats, etc. Is anyone helping to advise you on horse care such as hoof care, other aspects of horse nutrition, etc.? Please feel free to ask away! We all started somewhere, and are happy to help!
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