I heard most horses don't need alfalfa unless they are hard keepers or hard working and need the extra protein. Today’s horses are expected to perform at higher levels, mature more rapidly, produce more offspring and live a longer productive life than ever before. Alfalfa is tasty to horses. It is highly digestible and usually contains more digestible nutrients than grass hays, such as timothy and orchardgrass. The exception to the relationship of age and protein requirements is for late pregnancy and lactation, when the mare has increased protein requirements for proper nourishment of the foal. In addition, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in some alfalfa hays approaches 15 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. It then becomes necessary to replace the nutrients being expended if performance is to be maintained. Opinions vary all the way from believing that timothy is an essential part of every horse ration to that which insists on alfalfa for all horses. 1. In the case of mature horses, alfalfa forage will … But alfalfa also isn’t for every horse—when making a decision about whether to incorporate alfalfa into your feeding program, it’s important to be informed about its strengths and weaknesses. When horses are stabled, or grazing is limited, they need a substitute for the grass they would have naturally eaten. Safely fed to horses for thousands of years, Alfalfa’s high protein, fiber, vitamin and mineral content all … In the case of mature horses, free-choice alfalfa hay will certainly provide enough protein to satisfy requirements. Here are some benefits of alfalfa hay you should know. Each horse in the study had been assigned a gastric ulcer score before the study began as a result of gastric endoscopy. Also there is some concern about blister beetles that can contaminate alfalfa because they contain a substance that is toxic to horses if ingested. Good quality alfalfa hay is one of the most palatable and digestible forage sources that can be offered to any class of horse. Consequently, protein is essential for growth, and for the repair and formation of new tissue. However, because of its high palatability, intake must be restricted to keep horses from overeating and becoming colicky. Hay Moisture. Introduction 2. Medicago Stavia, better known as alfalfa or lucerne is in the same plant family as peas, beans and clover. A typical horse weighing 1,100 lbs. Experts in horse nutrition recognize alfalfa as a high protein, mineral rich forage but few look at the energetic properties of this hay for horses. Alfalfa hay is an excellent source of highly available calcium, but unfortunately is often a poor source of phosphorus. It is recommended that horses with metabolic syndrome consume hay with NSC levels of around 10% to 12%. Many horse owners select hay for their horses based on what they think looks good or on what they have been told is good. In addition, alfalfa can overstimulate the pituitary gland. Normal horses can tolerate NSC levels of 20% or higher. But if your animals have never eaten it before, it might take some time getting used to, just like with any new food. When feeding strictly alfalfa hay, it is not uncommon to have large amounts of calcium with marginal amounts of phosphorus. Alfalfa Round bales. In general, feed a horse between 1.5 and 3% of its body weight. of their body weight. The mineral content of your alfalfa compared to the mineral content of your neighbor’s, or even your grandfather’s (20 years ago), is certainly different. Wild horses survive on forage alone. If a horse is in training or working hard, its calorie needs increase. Alfalfa hay is all we do. This class of carbohydrates includes starch, water-soluble sugar, and fructan. Dairy cows in particular have much to benefit from the high rate of protein contained in Alfalfa, sometimes exceeding 25% of mass. A horse fed Alfalfa as part of its daily ration will meet its need for protein while receiving essential vitamins and minerals. If you’re not sure how much to feed your pregnant or highly active horse, ask its vet for advice. Alfalfa hay can be an excellent source of calories for horses who need help in gaining weight, or whose exercise demands require additional energy sources. By Robert Coleman. Because it is higher in energy and protein, using alfalfa makes it easier to meet those needs with minimal or at least lower levels of supplementation. Productive, well-managed pastures can provide most of the feed requirements of horses for the least cost. Wrapped in plastic over top of net wrap, stored outside, and 25% moisture. For young, growing horses, two minerals, calcium and phosphorus, are vital for proper skeletal formation. Quality alfalfa hay has high protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. Alfalfa is also a popular horse hay since it is widely available. Rapid diet changes are associated with colic, so it’s possible that if you change from grass hay to alfalfa hay all of a sudden, or you introduce alfalfa hay abruptly, you could increase the risk of colic. The amount of protein supplied by alfalfa can go a long way toward satisfying the high protein requirements of young growing horses. lfalfa is often the pre- ferred forage for horses because of its high quality, high digestibility, and good roughage value.Well-preserved alfalfa hay should be the foundation of a feeding program for young growing horses, recreational horses, and active horses.This publica- tion describes the horse’s digestive system and nutritional needs and how to select alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay, sometimes called lucerne hay, is the most popular legume hay fed to horses in the U.S., while timothy and orchard are popular grass hay choices. The impression that alfalfa makes a horse hot is usually the result of an improper amount of alfalfa being fed. A study done at Texas A&M University fed 12 horses a pelleted grain and Bermuda grass hay, and 12 horses pelleted grain and alfalfa hay. Protein is also the building material for enzymes and many hormones, giving it a vital role in the regulatory processes of horses. That is a stunningly large amount of the horse … High-quality, properly fenced pastures are one of the best and least expensive sources of summer feed for a horse. At the end of the study, the ulcer severity scores of the horses fed alfalfa had dropped overall, while the ulcer severity scores of the horses fed Bermuda grass hay had risen. Therefore, the younger the horse, the greater the protein requirement when expressed as a percentage of total diet. Everything we expect a horse to do for us exacts a price. Many of these situations are avoidable, so here are, in my opinion, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Horse Hay Making,” in no particular order. As a rule, protein requirements decrease with age. 1. It is generally recommended that horses being fed strictly alfalfa hay diets be supplemented with additional trace minerals. References Growing the finest Alfalfa Hay for over 43 years Yamshon Ranch premium alfalfa horse hay is cut, cured and baled at the peak of quality for optimum horse consumption. The amount of protein supplied by alfalfa can go a long way toward satisfying the high protein requirements of young, growing horses. Ideally, we would like to have a total dietary calcium to phosphorus ratio of between 1.5-2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. Below are a few reasons why alfalfa is still used for horses today. Selecting alfalfa hay with moderate protein content and providing additional diet fortification with minerals, help make this a balanced forage for horses. Feeding alfalfa is a safe way to build muscle tone. What Hay Growers Should Know 4. This trace mineral fortification typically comes in the form of pelleted grain concentrates or low intake mineral supplements. Alfalfa is an important component of an active horse’s diet. It has 120 percent more energy per unit in weight than oat hay. Horses being fed large quantities of plain grains such as Bluebonnet Feeds Race Horse Whole Oats or wheat bran will probably be consuming way too much phosphorus; the addition of alfalfa will balance out the Ca:P ratio to healthy proportions. Alfalfa Hay Buffers Stomach Acids and Helps Ulcer-Prone Horses. Mature horses use protein to maintain body tissues and synthesize antibodies, blood, hormones and the like, rather than build new masses of muscle and bone associated with growth. The body’s process for breaking down protein into calories results in nitrogen as a byproduct, which gets filtered out of the body in the horse’s kidneys. 12 Days of Standlee Christmas - Prizes every day December 12th - 23rd - ENTER NOW, Dr. Tania Cubitt, Performance Horse Nutrition and Standlee Premium Western Forage® Nutritional Consultant. But the excess protein does not harm the kidneys. Alfalfa contains more protein and calcium than grass hay, so it’s a good feed choice for horses with higher nutritional needs. It also contains vitamin E and the B vitamins Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic acid, Biotin and Folic Acid. Horses that are fed alfalfa cubes tend to eat all the cubes provided, whereas horses fed long-stem alfalfa hay will sort through the hay and not eat all the hay offered. Horses typically enjoy alfalfa. After water, the major constituent of the horse’s body is pro- tein. Horses fed to appetite consumed 17 to 25% more cubed alfalfa than long-stem hay. 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