PDA

View Full Version : Soaking Alfalfa cubes for a Cushing's horse



msj
Feb. 14, 2009, 06:40 PM
How long do I soak them before feeding them? I've never used them before. Also what is the ratio to water? I know with Beet Pulp, I use a 1:4 ratio with water.

I'm going to try the alfalfa cubes for my Cushings horse. Someone please tell me that's OK. :eek: The vet recommended trying alfalfa cubes to substitute for hay as the old guy is really quidding his hay and it might help with his loose stool. Current hay is mostly a soft grass hay and he's always quidded some but it's getting worse. Yes, I know to float his teeth but they were just done in April and Nov of last yr and I'm hoping he'll hold out till at least the end of March. I hate to ask the vet to do it when the weather is really cold and we are still below freezing. :(

1horse13
Feb. 14, 2009, 06:47 PM
1. I would soak them for a hour or two
2. Has he been tested for cushings?
3. Alfalfa cubes are probably fine

tpup
Feb. 14, 2009, 07:17 PM
If you soak in hot water, 1/2 hour works. I use Timothy/Alfalfa cubes from Triple Crown - I soak 1.5 pounds of dry cubes (I weigh them dry first) - I soak them in a 6 quart tupperware container and I fille the container 1/2 to 3/4 with water (after cubes are in). They fluff up nicely and fast. I sometimes add hot water and drive to my barn - 20-30 mins. away, and feed right away,and they are just fine.

I love the cubes and also love the fact my horse gets the extra water from soaking.

Sorry I can't answer the cushing's questions though!

MunchkinsMom
Feb. 14, 2009, 07:22 PM
I think the length of time depends on the density of the cubes, and if you break them up first or not.

I have been using them with a horse that can't eat hay due to ileal hypertrophy, he had a bad impaction colic 4 months ago that required surgery, and hay is no longer on his menu - but I needed something to put in the trailer feeder to entice him to stay in there during our trailer loading retraining sessions, so I use the cubes for that. I fill up half of a supplement bucket with cubes that I have seperated into smaller pieces by hand, add water, and they are ready to feed in about 10 minutes.

No clue as to whether or not they would be bad for a cushings horse.

MunchkinsMom
Feb. 14, 2009, 07:31 PM
Found some information about diets for cushings horses online:

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-health/equine-cushings-disease-24321.aspx

"Diet is gaining significance in the management of Cushing’s disease. Antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C, could play a role in helping to support Cushing’s horses. Chasteberry (Vitex agnus castus) is emerging as an organic source of dopamine stimulation; while it hasn’t completely stood up to the rigors of scientific testing, many researchers are still looking into it as a source of treatment for equine Cushing’s disease.

Feeding a Cushing’s horse can be very challenging, and unfortunately there are no set rules. However, it is safe to say that horses with Cushing’s disease do well on the same type of low-sugar, low-starch diet that horses prone to laminitis do. This type of feeding plan usually rules out alfalfa and grain, and leaves us with grass hay and grass hay pellets. If the disease symptoms aren’t too severe, then extruded feeds utilizing soy and beet pulp can help keep weight on. Generally I try to keep Cushing’s horses on mostly timothy and orchard hays, along with pelleted feeds, like those mentioned above, to keep weight on, and I minimize sugar as much as possible. Since Cushing’s horses are difficult to keep weight on, dedication has to be put into balancing diet with exercise."

joharavhf
Feb. 14, 2009, 07:36 PM
Found some information about diets for cushings horses online:


This type of feeding plan usually rules out alfalfa and grain, and leaves us with grass hay and grass hay pellets. If the disease symptoms aren’t too severe, then extruded feeds utilizing soy and beet pulp can help keep weight on. Generally I try to keep Cushing’s horses on mostly timothy and orchard hays......

Yes, I agree with this sentiment. I was told to stay away from alfalfa hay when I had a cushingoid horse (he was a low positive on the ACTH/Insulin test). In most cases a really boring 1st cut timothy works fine. However, in some extreme cases, they even suggest soaking the excess sugars out of that hay.....

To be really safe I would stick with a grass hay.

horsetales
Feb. 14, 2009, 08:29 PM
I break up the cubes I can and add hot water. Within 15 minutes they are pretty well mush.

msj
Feb. 14, 2009, 08:58 PM
Found some information about diets for cushings horses online:

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-health/equine-cushings-disease-24321.aspx

Feeding a Cushing’s horse can be very challenging, and unfortunately there are no set rules. However, it is safe to say that horses with Cushing’s disease do well on the same type of low-sugar, low-starch diet that horses prone to laminitis do. This type of feeding plan usually rules out alfalfa and grain, and leaves us with grass hay and grass hay pellets. If the disease symptoms aren’t too severe, then extruded feeds utilizing soy and beet pulp can help keep weight on. Generally I try to keep Cushing’s horses on mostly timothy and orchard hays, along with pelleted feeds, like those mentioned above, to keep weight on, and I minimize sugar as much as possible. Since Cushing’s horses are difficult to keep weight on, dedication has to be put into balancing diet with exercise."[/COLOR]

This is just what I've been afraid of. :sigh: Fortunately, so far no laminitis and he does get grass hay pellets and beet pulp and soaked grass hay. I've always been afraid to feed alfalfa hay to horses that really don't need it, and neither of the horses in my barn are anything but pasture ornaments. This old guy is 27 yrs old and hasn't been sound for quite a while and my horse, while sound, just doesn't get ridden at all. Honestly, if the old guy does founder, unless it's a very mild case, he will probably be euthanized as he has so many other problems with heaves and I don't think he really has a good leg to stand on in the first place. :(

To the person that asked if he was tested for Cushings - yes and just retested after 4 months on 1 mg/day Pergolide. His ACTH has come down some from 85 to 64 but I've upped his Pergolide to 1.5 mg/day and will test again in about 3 months to see what the level is.

I guess I'll hold off on the alfalfa cubes for now and hope it warms up ASAP so I can have his teeth done and hope that helps. Otherwise, he'll end up going from 2 meals with a lot of beet pulp to 4 meals with lots of beet pulp.

Thanks all for your help. :)

joharavhf
Feb. 14, 2009, 11:11 PM
MSJ,

Why do you need for it to warm up before doing teeth? Are you concerned he has a teeth issue? Is that why you are thinking of adding alfalfa cubes? Could you feed a chopped forage such as Triple Crown Safe Starch and soak that? That would be safe and easier for him to chew than regular hay.

Ambrey
Feb. 15, 2009, 12:01 AM
Will someone explain why alfalfa is bad for cushings horses? I thought alfalfa was lower in sugar/starch than grass hay?

msj
Feb. 15, 2009, 10:59 AM
MSJ,

Why do you need for it to warm up before doing teeth? Are you concerned he has a teeth issue? Is that why you are thinking of adding alfalfa cubes? Could you feed a chopped forage such as Triple Crown Safe Starch and soak that? That would be safe and easier for him to chew than regular hay.

The only reason why I'd like it to warm up some is for the sake of the Vet having to do the work in temps that are still below freezing. I know the horse has dental problems from the quidding of the hay and the fact that he is 27 yrs old. That was the only reason why I was thinking about the alfalfa cubes, well and the fact that the one vet recommended it. This is the only problem with a 5-6 woman vet practice is that some are better versed in nutrition than others. I'm not sure my feed store even carries TC Safe Starch or even what it is. Is it like Dengie hay by any chance?

Angela Freda
Feb. 15, 2009, 11:26 AM
I'm not sure my feed store even carries TC Safe Starch or even what it is. Is it like Dengie hay by any chance?
Isn't it a pelleted feed?

My Vet also recommended doing teeth when it was warmer, someone mentioned because of complications for the horse due to the temps?

fivehorses
Feb. 15, 2009, 03:25 PM
Tc safe starch is just like dengie, except is has had carbs removed, and I don't think has molasses but I am not sure about that.
I bought it for my cushing horse.

Simkie
Feb. 15, 2009, 03:30 PM
Isn't it a pelleted feed?


No, you're thinking of Low Starch. Safe Starch (http://triplecrownfeed.com/safestarch.php) is a forage.

The Cushings horse I know that is fed cubes (he's a chronic choker and can not have hay) is fed the Ontario Dehy Timothy Balance (http://www.ontariodehy.com/tab02-07.htm) cubes.

Watermark Farm
Feb. 15, 2009, 03:31 PM
I have a toothless Cushings pony and was told to stay away from alfalfa.

I am feeding her LMF Low NSC Complete --- with lots of water. Can you get LMF products out there? The small pellets soak very easily (in a couple of minutes) and she's doing great on it. She also gets soaked, rinsed beet pulp.

I also feed her things like cinnamon and lysine. You might check the Yahoo! Equine Cushings group for diet suggestions. Much more helpful than my vet!!

msj
Feb. 15, 2009, 09:04 PM
I'm heading to the feed store this week and will see if they have the TC Safe Starch. I just did a quick comparison to the Nutrena Kwik that I do feed and there are quite a few similarities.

My biggest problem is this horse is so very easily prone to diarrhea that I hate to make any significant feed changes no matter how slowly I introduce anything new. I'm just introducing a new source of grass hay than he's used to and doing it very slowly. At least this hay doesn't contain the # of weeds the other hay has.

Lordy, I'll be thrilled when I can get the horses back to real grass!!!

Vandy
Feb. 15, 2009, 10:45 PM
My biggest problem is this horse is so very easily prone to diarrhea that I hate to make any significant feed changes no matter how slowly I introduce anything new.
I agree with avoiding Alfalfa for a cushings horse. I have also found (just speaking from personal experience) that horses who are prone to diarrhea seem to be worse on Alfalfa for some reason.

I have posted here before about my ancient (currently ~40yo) toothless pony who developed chronic diarrhea years ago. Her miracle cure was soaked beet pulp, soaked Nutrena Senior, and soaked 100% timothy cubes. She's been on this diet for about 5 years and no more diarrhea, ever. Vet recommended timothy cubes as alfalfa gave her more diarrhea, and the long-stem fibers in the timothy cubes helped to stimulate her gut. Not only may your horse have trouble chewing regular hay (hence the quidding), as explained by my vet, older horses guts are often not strong enough to digest the partially chewed hay that does make it to the stomach (hence excess digestive acids produced hence the diarrhea).

Triple Crown does make 100% Timothy cubes. They are expensive, but any store that sells Triple Crown should be able to special order them if they don't carry them already. Based on my success with my mare, I highly recommend trying this!

ETA: Back to your original question, I use very hot water to soak the hay cubes. My mare gets 2 quarts (dry) of the cubes 3x/day, soaked in approximately 8 quarts of water. It takes about 15-20 minutes for the cubes to dissolve. I add a little extra water to get a soupy consistency, since she's not a great water drinker, but she'll clean up the "hay cube soup" which keeps her well hydrated.

msj
Feb. 16, 2009, 10:43 AM
I agree with avoiding Alfalfa for a cushings horse. I have also found (just speaking from personal experience) that horses who are prone to diarrhea seem to be worse on Alfalfa for some reason.

I have posted here before about my ancient (currently ~40yo) toothless pony who developed chronic diarrhea years ago. Her miracle cure was soaked beet pulp, soaked Nutrena Senior, and soaked 100% timothy cubes. She's been on this diet for about 5 years and no more diarrhea, ever. Vet recommended timothy cubes as alfalfa gave her more diarrhea, and the long-stem fibers in the timothy cubes helped to stimulate her gut. Not only may your horse have trouble chewing regular hay (hence the quidding), as explained by my vet, older horses guts are often not strong enough to digest the partially chewed hay that does make it to the stomach (hence excess digestive acids produced hence the diarrhea).

Triple Crown does make 100% Timothy cubes. They are expensive, but any store that sells Triple Crown should be able to special order them if they don't carry them already. Based on my success with my mare, I highly recommend trying this!

ETA: Back to your original question, I use very hot water to soak the hay cubes. My mare gets 2 quarts (dry) of the cubes 3x/day, soaked in approximately 8 quarts of water. It takes about 15-20 minutes for the cubes to dissolve. I add a little extra water to get a soupy consistency, since she's not a great water drinker, but she'll clean up the "hay cube soup" which keeps her well hydrated.

Vandy, the timothy cubes make sense. I'm going to give the feed store a call and see if they do carry TC. If they don't there are several other feed stores I can try even though some aren't that close.

I'll check for the timothy cubes as well as the Safe Starch that someone else recommended. I'll check to see if I can find it on line first to get a run down of the ingredients and check the TC timothy cubes against the Nutrena Kwik that I feed and see if there is a big difference.

Thanks to everyone for their responses. :)

msj
Feb. 16, 2009, 10:50 AM
Vandy, all I can find at the TC site are either Alfalfa cubes or a 50/50 Alfalfa/Timothy cubes. I'm guessing you must be referring to the 50/50 Alfalfa/Timothy cubes. Can you check to see if that is what you are feeding please? Thanks in advance. :)

Dalemma
Feb. 16, 2009, 11:29 AM
This type of feeding plan usually rules out alfalfa and grain, and leaves us with grass hay and grass hay pellets. If the disease symptoms aren’t too severe, then extruded feeds utilizing soy and beet pulp can help keep weight on. Generally I try to keep Cushing’s horses on mostly timothy and orchard hays, along with pelleted feeds, like those mentioned above, to keep weight on, and I minimize sugar as much as possible. Since Cushing’s horses are difficult to keep weight on, dedication has to be put into balancing diet with exercise."[/COLOR]


Actually alfalfa is one of the hays that is always consistently under 10% sugars which is the target range for metabolic issues.........Timothy can be quite high in sugar and so can orchards.......it will depend on the growing conditions....its best to get your hay tested.

But grain is a definite no no.

Dalemma

Vandy
Feb. 16, 2009, 03:27 PM
Vandy, all I can find at the TC site are either Alfalfa cubes or a 50/50 Alfalfa/Timothy cubes. I'm guessing you must be referring to the 50/50 Alfalfa/Timothy cubes. Can you check to see if that is what you are feeding please? Thanks in advance. :)
Nope, they are 100% Timothy cubes. I actually tried the 50/50 cubes for my mare since they are significantly cheaper than the Timothy, but the diarrhea didn't improve til I went to the 100% Timothy. The only ingredient listed on the bag is Timothy hay. If I have a spare bag on hand I'd be glad to check what other info the tag gives.

As I said, many feed stores that stock the straight Alfalfa cubes and the 50/50 don't stock the Timothy, perhaps because it is more expensive and less popular. My feed store orders it for me and it arrives with their regular loads of Triple Crown.

And whoa, this is interesting: "Chopped forages have been around for a few years and continue to be a great option to supplement or replace hay. They have the necessary fiber length and can offer the option of 100% timothy hay that cubes cannot." Taken directly from the Triple Crown website, which does NOT list 100% Timothy Cubes as a product(?!) Strange, because I have been feeding it for years and can tell you with 100% confidence that it does exist! Perhaps a call to Triple Crown is in order?

msj
Feb. 16, 2009, 06:04 PM
Nope, they are 100% Timothy cubes. I actually tried the 50/50 cubes for my mare since they are significantly cheaper than the Timothy, but the diarrhea didn't improve til I went to the 100% Timothy. The only ingredient listed on the bag is Timothy hay. If I have a spare bag on hand I'd be glad to check what other info the tag gives.

As I said, many feed stores that stock the straight Alfalfa cubes and the 50/50 don't stock the Timothy, perhaps because it is more expensive and less popular. My feed store orders it for me and it arrives with their regular loads of Triple Crown.

And whoa, this is interesting: "Chopped forages have been around for a few years and continue to be a great option to supplement or replace hay. They have the necessary fiber length and can offer the option of 100% timothy hay that cubes cannot." Taken directly from the Triple Crown website, which does NOT list 100% Timothy Cubes as a product(?!) Strange, because I have been feeding it for years and can tell you with 100% confidence that it does exist! Perhaps a call to Triple Crown is in order?

Yup, when I went to the TC website they didn't list just timothy cubes at all. :( I'll try and give them a call tomorrow. Hope their phone # is on the website. Thanks.

#1Gunner
Feb. 16, 2009, 10:50 PM
I had a Cushings gelding with COPD and he only ate soaked cubes. I use soaked cubes on any horse that I am trying to get weight on in a hurry too. Lots of extra calories in alfalfa cubes.

Good luck with him, it's a bit of work, but worth it.

jane

msj
Feb. 17, 2009, 11:22 AM
Well, after another wonderful bout of diarrhea with him, I've decided the only thing that is different in his diet was the fact I started him on Pergolide in Oct. And that was about when the loose stool came back followed by bouts of diarrhea. SO, I'm taking him off Pergolide for the time. I've given him Dia-Gel today and will probably give him another tube tomorrow to arrest the diarrhea. I know that works for about a week and just maybe the Pergolide will be out of his system by then. If that is what is causing the diarrhea and I can get it stopped, then I'll try adding some more pelleted or cubed roughage to his diet to replace the hay that he's quidding. I do know he's getting a lot of hay into his body based on what he eats come evening when he is separated from my OTTB, and just maybe being 27 yr old he and I can live with a little quidding. Right now he's on 3 'meals' a day, two with a good amount of beet pulp and the rest pelled hay (Nutrena Kwik). If need be, I'll add a 4th meal. Once he's on grass he should do a bit better. His teeth do get done twice/yr and if the vet wants to float them more often I'm willing. Course I don't know if his owner will be but I think she will be.