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Alfalfa Hay

This topic contains 11 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Joe-Joe Joe-Joe 2 years, 4 months ago.

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  • ponygirl360 Original Poster ponygirl360
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 41

    I own a 26 year old Paso Fino (easy keeper) and a 14 year old Appaloosa (rescue that needs to put on weight). I have only been able to find alfalfa hay for the winter. Will this drastically affect either of my horses in a negative way? The Paso Fino gets 2 lbs. daily of Purina Equine Senior Active Healthy Edge. The Appaloosa gets 3 lbs. daily of Purina..something that comes in a green bag! I talked to the Purina Rep about it before I purchased it and that is what she recommended to help put some weight on him. They each eat a total of 4 flakes of hay a day, or when the weather is nice, they simply eat grass all day. Right now I have some very green hay, but I am not sure if it is alfalfa or not. They have been eating it for about a week and seem to be fine so far. Just wondering how careful I need to be with the alfalfa?

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Hi ponygirl,
    I also have pasos that are easy keepers. I don’t feed alfalfa because pasos are generally spirited enough without it, and can get pretty hot in temperament with it especially if they are not getting sufficient exercise. (Picture a kindergarten-aged boy on too much sugar) Your paso’s age may prevent that from being a problem. Alfalfa is good hay that’s why they use it on performance and race horses that burn a lot of energy. It’s very high in protein (varies from 12-20%) as compared to fescue/orchard grass (which is 5-7%) so you have to be careful not to overfeed it. Four flakes sounds typical, but you’ll have to watch how your horses do on it. You may find that it is just what your appaloosa needs to build him back up.

    If not, here is a website that may have links to help you find alternative hay:
    http://www.ncagr.gov/drought/directories.htm

    Horses generally do best on hay that is comparable to the indigenous grasses where they live. I usually take two weeks of gradually introducing new hay (even the same type of hay if from a different supplier because it may have different grasses mixed in). Horses don’t do very well when there is a dramatic shift in their diets. Good luck!

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    For some horses, alfalfa is just too rich. Might be a good idea to mix it with a timothy/clover hay. You want to put the weight on slowly, so that it stays there.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    How long have you had the Appaloosa? As the two previous posters indicated, alfalfa is definitely a high-energy, high-protein feed, and for that reason is not ideal for putting weight on a horse. In some cases it can lead to laminitis, and you don’t want that to happen!

    ponygirl360 Original Poster ponygirl360
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 41

    Thank you all for your help! I have had the Appaloosa for about 3 weeks. I think a big problem with his weight was that he was just really wormy. He is looking much better already, and I plan to mix the alfalfa hay with the grass hay when feeding, so he will get 1 flake of each kind of hay at each feeding, if that makes sense. I don’t think I’ll be feeding the alfalfa to my Paso-he’s a pretty easy keeper, and I was able to come across grass hay that should get me through the winter, if mixed with a little bit of alfalfa hay for the Appaloosa. Thank you so much for your help!

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    Thank you for asking–and good luck with your rescue horse!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Glad you got answers that helped you decide!

    It is never the horse's fault

    Reece’sPieces
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I just joined and wanted to add my 2 cents.

    I have a hard keeper TB so I tried alfalfa as an option for weight gain – FAIL!

    Whatever weight he may have gained from the alfalfa was immediately burnt off with the wild and crazy behaviour it caused.

    Within days of introducing the alfalfa he was so hyper it was almost unmanageable. He was literally vibrating and twitchy. This might be an extreme reaction but something to keep in mind.

    ponygirl360 Original Poster ponygirl360
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 41

    Hmm. I think Comet has been more hyper since being on the alfalfa, but so far nothing that I haven’t been able to handle….yet. I’m hoping that with more turnout once the weather gets nice, he will be able to meander around his pasture to burn off some of the excess energy. I will definitely keep an eye on him though, as I don’t want him to get to that extreme point that you mentioned.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    If he is not used to it, you would want to watch for colic also.

    It is never the horse's fault

    ponygirl360 Original Poster ponygirl360
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 41

    He’s been on the alfalfa for at least 2 months now, and we did a slow transition period; we didn’t have any colic problems when switching to the alfalfa, thank goodness!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    That is a good thing, but alfalfa is still awfully rich. Did he have this poop issue before? Do you know what sort of grasses are growing in his pasture?

    It is never the horse's fault

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