Alfalfa contains more protein and calcium than grass hay, so it’s a good feed choice for horses with higher nutritional needs. 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. It then becomes necessary to replace the nutrients being expended if performance is to be maintained. Not so, if fed appropriately. Many horse owners advise that Alfalfa hay is the best kind of hay to feed a horse. Hay Moisture. However, wild horses are never expected to perform on the track or in the arena, and their low reproductive rate would drive most professional breeders out of the business. A well-kept pasture also is the most natural and healthy environment for exercise and rest. The amount of protein supplied by alfalfa can go a long way toward satisfying the high protein requirements of young, growing horses. Ideal for all classes of horses as well as those with shortages or poor hay quality. 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. Many of these situations are avoidable, so here are, in my opinion, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Horse Hay Making,” in no particular order. Ideally, we would like to have a total dietary calcium to phosphorus ratio of between 1.5-2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. It is highly digestible and usually contains more digestible nutrients than grass hays, such as timothy and orchardgrass. Alfalfa is high in calcium and protein—both of which have a buffering effect on the acid in the stomach. Here are some benefits of alfalfa hay you should know. As a trend, the trace mineral profile (copper, zinc and selenium) of alfalfa is marginal when compared to the trace mineral requirements for growing and performance horses. In addition, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in some alfalfa hays approaches 15 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. If you’re not sure how much to feed your pregnant or highly active horse, ask its vet for advice. Get PDF (73 KB) Abstract. More than 80 percent of performance horses suffer from some varying degree of ulceration. Premium Alfalfa Grab and Go® Compressed Bale. … Molds growing in the bales can cause respiratory tract symptoms, but the same molds can –– and do ––grow in any type of hay. Dairy cows in particular have much to benefit from the high rate of protein contained in Alfalfa, sometimes exceeding 25% of mass. 1. Protein has historically been thought to be the cause of all evil in horses but research has shown that this is not the case and in fact, high starch or sugar diets are culprits. Protein is also the building material for enzymes and many hormones, giving it a vital role in the regulatory processes of horses. Quality alfalfa hay has high protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. Alfalfa hay is an excellent source of protein, both in content and quality. I heard most horses don't need alfalfa unless they are hard keepers or hard working and need the extra protein. That is a stunningly large amount of the horse … After water, the major constituent of the horse’s body is pro- tein. Next, the young horse requires calcium and phosphorus in the correct ratio to one another. Horses tend to throw their hay around as they rummage for the good bits, so you’ll need a good 8’ by 8’ of ground cover for your horses feeding area. Alfalfa hay is an excellent source of highly available calcium, but unfortunately is often a poor source of phosphorus. Below are a few reasons why alfalfa is still used for horses today. In addition, alfalfa can overstimulate the pituitary gland. Alfalfa hay is one of the most common hays available in the US, making it a popular choice for forage for horses. 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. 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. It is recommended that young, growing horses receive supplemental phosphorus in the form of a ration balancer supplement or developing horse commercial concentrate. This trace mineral fortification typically comes in the form of pelleted grain concentrates or low intake mineral supplements. 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. 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. Research has shown that in addition to being an excellent energy and protein source, alfalfa hay also has the ability to buffer stomach acid and alleviate ulcer severity and formation. For young, growing horses, two minerals, calcium and phosphorus, are vital for proper skeletal formation. 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. 1. This is because Alfalfa Hay meets most protein and nutrition needs with a smaller quantity than most Grass Hays do. Alfalfa hay is all we do. As a rule, protein requirements decrease with age. However, because of its high palatability, intake must be restricted to keep horses from overeating and becoming colicky. High in protein and minerals, Alfalfa hay is a high-energy feed source for cattle, horses and sheep. Alfalfa hay is high in energy. As a result, if you fed your horse enough alfal… Therefore, it takes less hay to meet a horse's nutrient needs when feeding alfalfa hay. A high quality cereal grain hay, like oat hay, is preferable to a poor quality alfalfa. Alfalfa has a very low content of both starch and water soluble carbohydrates (WSC) such as sugars and fructan. Eighty percent of the muscles and twenty percent of the skeleton consist of some type of protein. High quality ("dairy") alfalfa supplies 20% to 25% more calories per pound than grass hays, although the difference is much smaller for more mature cuts of alfalfa. RFV is 135 for the first 38 bales, and 129 for the last 35. Introduction 2. Alfalfa Hay. It also contains vitamin E and the B vitamins Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic acid, Biotin and Folic Acid. Alfalfa hay is one of the best legume hays fed to horses. Also there is some concern about blister beetles that can contaminate alfalfa because they contain a substance that is toxic to horses if ingested. 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. Couple a complex set of mineral requirements with forages which are often marginal in mineral content, and we have the potential for performance problems. Horses and ponies in their natural environment are grazing animals - they spend many hours a day eating grass. A horse fed Alfalfa as part of its daily ration will meet its need for protein while receiving essential vitamins and minerals. As would be expected, the mineral content of soil varies from region to region and has certainly changed over the past 20 to 30 years. It’s especially helpful for a hard keeper because of its high palatability—horses love to eat it. Also well-suited to younger animals or those with greater protein needs. But if your animals have never eaten it before, it might take some time getting used to, just like with any new food. 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. Selecting alfalfa hay with moderate protein content and providing additional diet fortification with minerals, help make this a balanced forage for horses. Alfalfa Hay for Horses. It’s been blamed for colic and high spirits, but does alfalfa deserve the stigma that seems to follow it? In the case of mature horses, free-choice alfalfa hay will certainly provide enough protein to satisfy requirements. The fibre in alfalfa gives your horse slow release energy which they can use for maintenance, work or putting on weight. Alfalfa Round bales. Each horse in the study had been assigned a gastric ulcer score before the study began as a result of gastric endoscopy. Alfalfa provides a significant amount of calories; however, an excess of calories in any form, whether from alfalfa, grain or oil, without the exercise to burn them, can result in an excessively energetic horse. Alfalfa is usually lower in ber, higher in energy, higher in protein and higher in calcium than grass hays. In general, feed a horse between 1.5 and 3% of its body weight. 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. High pH readings (less acidic) in hay-fed horses should be expected since forage consumption stimulates saliva production which naturally buffers acid. Moldy grass hay or moldy alfalfa hay both cause airway irritation when mold dust is inhaled.” Take-Home Message The horse industry is full of misconceptions about alfalfa. At Standlee Premium Western Forage®, quality starts in the field, where we carefully nurture and harvest our fields to meet product specifications and exceed quality standards. 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. However, the high-energy content may lead to overfeeding and to a fat horse. The simple answer is “no,” since alfalfa hay is an excellent source of protein, calories, calcium and Vitamin A for horses. Medicago Stavia, better known as alfalfa or lucerne is in the same plant family as peas, beans and clover. Sadly, each year, horse barns and farmers storage barns burn down, horses become sick from respiratory disease and colic and a myriad of other diseases such as Cushings. Research into equine ulcers has revealed that 90% of racehorses, more than 50% of performance horses, and as many as 37% of pleasure horses suffer from gastric ulcers. Alfalfa is also a popular horse hay since it is widely available. Horses are designed to eat forage and quality forage is the basis for the feeding programs of all classes of horse. “The biggest benefit of alfalfa for horses is that it tends to be more nutrient-dense than most grasses when harvested at the same stage of maturity,” says Martinson. Productive, well-managed pastures can provide most of the feed requirements of horses for the least cost. Alfalfa hay is an excellent source of protein, both in content and quality. Alfalfa is rich in beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Horses that received free-choice grass hay for 24 hours had average gastric pH readings that were significantly higher than fasted horses. Made primarily with the best pre-bloom alfalfa and a small amount of Timothy hay and orchard grass, Triple Crown Premium Alfalfa Forage Blend is intended to replace all or part of the hay portion of any horse’s diet. Alfalfa is an important component of an active horse’s diet. What the Horse Owner Needs to Know 5. Alfalfa has a neutral thermal nature which means it does not create a heating or cooling effect in the body. Forage should be the foundation of every horse … It is generally recommended that horses being fed strictly alfalfa hay diets be supplemented with additional trace minerals. Alfalfa hay is high in good-quality protein. References Myth: Alfalfa can’t be fed to horses with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP Hay and Hay Quality 3. 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. Blood solids are largely protein, and because antibod- ies and other immune substances are proteins, this nutrient also plays a major function in ghting infection. A typical horse weighing 1,100 lbs. Good quality alfalfa hay is one of the most palatable and digestible forage sources that can be offered to any class of horse. 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. Alfalfa is tasty to horses. The mineral content of alfalfa hay is largely dependent on the mineral content of the soil. At the same time, p… Alfalfa contains valuable levels of the trace mineral cobalt that enables the horse to synthesize vitamin B12 which is involved in iron absorption and utilization. It’s green and leafy, and horses love it, but alfalfa hay also has a bit of a bad reputation in the horse world. The fibre in alfalfa gives your horse slow release energy which … This hay is high in fiber, protein and calcium. 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. ©2020 Standlee Premium Products, LLC® All Rights Reserved. In the case of mature horses, alfalfa forage will … Therefore, the younger the horse, the greater the protein requirement when expressed as a percentage of total diet. As a practical recommendation, select alfalfa hays which do not contain extremely high levels of protein (greater than 17% crude protein). When an alfalfa crop is properly cared for, baled, and stored, the high leaf to stem ratio can provide a very high quality forage product. Alfalfa is an important component of an active horse’s diet. Southern Idaho’s climate and nutrient-rich soils provide ideal conditions for growing high quality alfalfa and other forage types. What Hay Growers Should Know 4. 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. Normal horses can tolerate NSC levels of 20% or higher. Many horse owners select hay for their horses based on what they think looks good or on what they have been told is good. High-quality, properly fenced pastures are one of the best and least expensive sources of summer feed for a horse. Most horses will readily consume alfalfa hay. Alfalfa fed with a careful eye to the proportions of the whole diet, and the energy needs of the horse, will not create excess energy. When feeding strictly alfalfa hay, it is not uncommon to have large amounts of calcium with marginal amounts of phosphorus. That’s an old wives’ tale, probably inspired by the fact that horses with high protein intake tend to drink more water, and therefore urinate more. Most horses love this leafy, green hay. Fact: Alfalfa is no more likely to cause an allergic reaction than any other type of hay. Alfalfa typically has a thicker stem and lots of leaves. Wrapped in plastic over top of net wrap, stored outside, and 25% moisture. When horses are stabled, or grazing is limited, they need a substitute for the grass they would have naturally eaten. Alfalfa is best for horses with high nutrient needs Benefits of Alfalfa Hay. Good pasture alone is sufficient to meet all of the nutritional requirements for many classes of horses. Feeding alfalfa is an excellent alternative to feeding excessive amounts of grain at meals to get more calories into a horse’s diet. Copyright © 2020 All rights reserved by Ceads, Ağaoğlu Maslak 1453, T4b-Blok No:27, Maslak 34485, Istanbul, Turkey. Legumes are higher in protein, energy, calcium, and vitamin A than grass hay. If a horse is in training or working hard, its calorie needs increase. But the excess protein does not harm the kidneys. Alfalfa Hay Buffers Stomach Acids and Helps Ulcer-Prone Horses. A horse that is converting excess protein to calories will drink more water, to aid that ltering, and will have urine with a strong ammonia smell, as the nitrogen is excreted as urea. Alfalfa is the most common legume hay for horses. Alfalfa Hay for Horses. If you ask most horses they will tell you that alfalfa is a wonderful horse feed. The impression that alfalfa makes a horse hot is usually the result of an improper amount of alfalfa being fed. Feeding alfalfa is a safe way to build muscle tone. By Robert Coleman. Especially where the grass hay is low in protein, alfalfa can help boost the protein content of your horse’s diet to an appropriate level. Bales average 1550lbs. of their body weight. Standlee® has several excellent choices of high quality alfalfa products including compressed bales, chopped alfalfa and pelleted and cubed products. Horses typically enjoy alfalfa. Generally, horses eat between 1 1/2-2 lbs. Alfalfa Hay. THREE BENEFITS OF FEEDING ALFALFA TO HORSES: Alfalfa is a high protein forage, so it makes an excellent supplement for horses that are protein deficient or for horses that have higher protein requirements such as senior horses or … Horses fed to appetite consumed 17 to 25% more cubed alfalfa than long-stem hay. Safely fed to horses for thousands of years, Alfalfa’s high protein, fiber, vitamin and mineral content all … It has 120 percent more energy per unit in weight than oat hay. Below are a few reasons why alfalfa is still used for horses today. Adding a little alfalfa, especially prior to exercise, really helps buffer the stomach acid. To grow a sound skeleton, young horses first need adequate amounts of both calcium and phosphorus. It is not unusual for mid-bloom alfalfa hay to have a crude protein content of 17% or greater. Alfalfa Hay for Horses . Alfalfa has lower indigestible fiber than grass hays. Safely fed to horses for thousands of years, Alfalfa’s high protein, fiber, vitamin and mineral content all contribute to its high feed value. 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. I used to feed my arab alfalfa plus grass hay in the winter to keep weight on him. It’s especially helpful for a hard keeper because of its high palatability—horses love to eat it. Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids and these are converted into tissues such as muscle. Alfalfa and/or alfalfa grass hay is palatable and is often a hay of preference for horses. This class of carbohydrates includes starch, water-soluble sugar, and fructan. Everything we expect a horse to do for us exacts a price. In conclusion, the availability and nutrient content of alfalfa hay make it a logical forage for horses. Wild horses survive on forage alone. Consequently, protein is essential for growth, and for the repair and formation of new tissue. 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. This means that if you fed strictly what your horse needed for nutrients, your horse could still not feel full, since the amount of alfalfa that would reach these nutrient needs is not going to be the amount to properly fill the horse up or make them feel full. 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. The amount of protein supplied by alfalfa can go a long way toward satisfying the high protein requirements of young growing horses. 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. All of these factors—performance, growth rate, reproduction and age—complicate the nutrient requirements of the horse in ways unforeseen 20 years ago. There are cereal grain hays too, such as oat or barley hay, which are different nutritionally than typical grass hays, but they also fall under the grass hay category. Medicago Stavia, better known as alfalfa or lucerne is in the same plant family as peas, beans and clover. It is recommended that horses with metabolic syndrome consume hay with NSC levels of around 10% to 12%. The amount of alfalfa cubes you feed a horse is dependant on the size and workload of the animal. 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