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Discussion Starter #1
My horses have been on costal, but the place I was getting it from ran out, so when we bought a bale from the only other feed store, my mare broke out in hives. I have heard alfalfa burned hot, would it be safe to feed during the heat we have? My mare works quite a bit, and the other is a six month old.
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Discussion Starter #3
What I meant was, when I bought their costal she broke out, that is why I'm wondering if it would be ok to feed alfalfa istead of their costal to prevent hives. It's my only otherr option
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There was most likely a weed or other type of grass mixed in that caused her to break out in hives. Transitioning them both to alfalfa shouldn't be a problem. As long as they don't have a sensitivity to it, they will love the change. The heat is not going to add a layer of concern to feeding it.
 

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Regarding heat are you talking about the temp?

Horses are hind gut digesters. They use bacterial fermentation, which generates heat. Hence why you always feed more hay in the winter.

Alfalfa is a low Heat Increment feed (HI). When you have the same amount of volume in grass hay and Alfalfa hay, Alfalfa will have more digestible energy than grass. Meaning, you can feed less of it. So yes, Alfalfa is a good high temp climate feed.

Corn is also a good high climate feed. It also has a low HI and high digestible energy.

Hope this helps.
 

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Agreed--alfalfa is fine to feed. I agree with the earlier post--probably there was a weed OR perhaps the field was sprayed(?), which cause the allergic reacton.
I'm glad that you have a supplier. =D
I KNOW that the SW is really dry and your options are few, but I want to warn you about 2 things re: alfalfa, should you decide to only feed THIS in the future.
First, alfalfa is hard on a horse's kidneys. This is more important with elderly horses, but many of their owners like it anyway bc it helps elderly "poor keepers" keep their weight.
Secondly, and this Also applies to elderly horses--alfalfa should be replanted after about 3 years, else the hay will have a LOT of stems, which older horses cannot and will not try to masticate. (I KNOW this bc I kept 4 horses into the 20's and I watched them eat around the stems.) Many farmers grow/sell their alfalfa to cattle ranchers bc the cows will eat it all, ruminate it and gain weight for market on it EVEN if it's hay from an old field. (I KNOW THIS, TOO bc my previous hay supplier used to raise black angus cattle. The hay was a sideline, and he didn't HAVE to replant his alfalfa fields.)
WHEN YOU CAN, IMHO you should feed some grass hay along with the alfalfa. Remember, too, "This (drought) TOO shall pass."
Prayers for you.
 

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Certainly you should feed some grass hay for more variety.

But usually alfalfa that is sun-cured (which most are) only contain less than 17% crude protein. Which is not hard on the horse's kidneys. They kidneys & liver excrete access protein in urine as ammonia. Its rare to find Alfalfa that is not sun-cured and it is mostly fed to cattle along with alfalfa that contains alot of lignin (stems, etc).

The suggested requirements for CP are:
16-18% foals
14-16% weanlings
12-14% yearlings
9-11% mature

Like i said above the access protein is excreted as ammonia in urine. It causes no harm to the horse's kidneys.

In regards to re-planting every 3 years. My family grows alfalfa and we re-plant every 3-5 years depending on how our fields look. We re-plant because alfalfa dies off and gets taken over by other radical plants, not because our hay gets too stem-y.

The only reason why "we" (meaning the university) feed grass is to give the horse something else to munch on. To add "bulk", there is no more nutritional value in feeding grass with alfalfa than just feeding alfalfa by its self. Unless it is winter time, then that is a whole other story.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
thank you guys, the feed store we got the hay from usedd to have good costal, seven dollrs a bale...then it shot up to ten, and now they dont even have any. We used to have a little garde area full ofgreen grass, now its dirrt. Not a single thing grwing ha
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Discussion Starter #10
What I was worried about is, I have always been told alfalfa is good for cold teps becaause when they digest it prrrodces more heat than grass hay, I was worried about feedingsomething that will warm them up when the temp is 97 minimum
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You don't want alfalfa to comprise the only hay in the diet because of the calcium content. A flake or two a day is fine but something else should be fed. A horse living on only alfalfa can develop a condition called Big Head, whereby his head increases in size altho this may take months to happen.
 

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Wrong.

Big Head is caused by feeding more grain than hay. It is caused by an inverted calcium/phosphorus ratio. Feeding alfalfa as the only source of forage isnt going to cause big head. Like i said, there is no nutritional benefit to feeding grass with the alfalfa other than to add bulk and give the horse more variety. The horse is still getting everything it can get in grass hay through alfalfa. Only the benefit is you can feed less alfalfa than grass & get the same results. Alfalfa has a higher digestible energy content.
 

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.Delete, that was research I read, oh, 20 years ago. The recommendations were one or two flakes per day along with other hay.
 

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Wrong.

Big Head is caused by feeding more grain than hay. It is caused by an inverted calcium/phosphorus ratio. Feeding alfalfa as the only source of forage isnt going to cause big head. Like i said, there is no nutritional benefit to feeding grass with the alfalfa other than to add bulk and give the horse more variety. The horse is still getting everything it can get in grass hay through alfalfa. Only the benefit is you can feed less alfalfa than grass & get the same results. Alfalfa has a higher digestible energy content.
I havent heard of Big Head, but I do know that Alfalfa has a lot of calcium in it (if thats all they get they will have a serious in-balance) so if thats one of the main causes, then I guess could be possible... But I havent heard of that.. Kinda interesting disease I guess... :/
 

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Big head happens when the posphrous levels are the same or more than the calcium because posphrous binds with calcium making it un able to be absorbed. A 2C:1P ratio is the norm an is sufficient. But 1:1 is when a dificency occurs
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I think the biggest danger of excess calcium is bladder stones- my vet just brought back a horse of hers that had been leased out for several years and fed primarily alfalfa and he had developed a bladder stone the size of a baseball :shock:

Bladder stones are rare in horses, and large ones like this even more so, but it's a risk of a long-term high-calcium diet.

As far as feeding a horse alfalfa until grass hay becomes available again, there shouldn't be a problem.

Alfalfa's reputation for being "hot" that you've heard is probably in reference to the horse's temperament. Some horses seem particularly sensitive to alfalfa and will get hyped up on it (TB's especially have this reputation), but it doesn't actually digest at a higher temperature in their gut.
 

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Alfalfa has a high energy content so you can feed less of it if it and still get the same results as you would with alot of grass hay. IMO your actually saving money by feeding Alfalfa.
 

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Sorry Saddlebag, Delete is right. You are confusing lack of calcium with excess calcium. Here is an excellent article I found on the net.

Living Legends - Horse Health - Nutrition

Alfalfa will actually prevent "big head" since "big head" is a sign of calcium deficiency. Feeding too much grain and bran without extra calcium can cause it. So the alfalfa actually prevents "big head." :)

I live in Arizona, and right or wrong, we have practically no other hay than alfalfa and bermuda. Right now I feed a mixture of both, but back in my boarding days the barn owners fed straight alfalfa, even in the 120F summers! No horse parished from straight alfalfa. :lol: As a matter of fact, they seem to thrive on it.

The only negative I have heard about alfalfa is that it may increase the chance of entroliths. But I have head the kidney thing is false, although the horse may drink more water with alfalfa to clear out the excess protien and calcium.

But alfalfa is a great hay for growing horses. I have a yearling who is thriving on it. He does get some bermuda as well, but I would say at least 60% or more of his diet is alfalfa.

If you can get a mix of alfalfa/grass, that is ideal. But don't be afraid to feed straight alfalfa. Those of us in the southwest do it all the time.

Like all feeds though, I would try to make the switch gradual as possible by mixing a bale of alfalfa with the existing hay before you feed alfalfa straight. It IS a rich hay. But the horses LOVE it and are very sleek and shiny. It keeps horses fat, so you don't want to feed it free-choice.
 
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