In an effort to help my mare put back on some of the weight she lost while on stall rest, I decided to add some alfalfa cubes to her diet. The bag doesn't have any directions, so I decided to start with about 1/4 pound which I soaked. But when I put in her tub, she looked at it, rolled up her nose and went back to her hay.
Is it unusual for a horse not to like alfalfa cubes? Should I try adding molasses (I'd prefer not to do this if possible)? Should I try crumbling up the cubes and feeding them to her dry rather than soaking them? And assuming I can get her to eat them, about how much should I be feeding a 17.1h TB?
I started giving my TB gelding cubes in Jan. because I moved to a barn w/ only grass hay.
At first he was very "meh" about them. At first we gave him about 1/2 lb soaked and put his grain in with it. He didn't care for that 'contamination' of his usually very enjoyable grain.
So then I just put in in a separate bucket in his stall. He is in at night, so at first he would eat some of it. But now he eats all of it and really enjoys it.
So there is an adjustment period. Start out with a little bit and maybe add some of his grain to it and give him a long time to investigate what you want (like if he is in a stall for several hours)
This is a product I fed for my senior horse. Alfalfa cubes are really not meant to be fed to horses, they were meant to feed cows. All of my horses like this product and eat it happily.
This guy has a nice website that explains all of it, but what is most interesting is his theories on feeding horses, which we all know to be true anyway: keep food in front of them all day.
If I only had one or two horses I would be able to only feed his product. How great to be free of the stress of sourcing hay!
But for me with 10 horses in an area of the country where I can still get great hay for $3.50 a bale DELIVERED AND STACKED, I use this product for my road trips and I can pack so much more in with no mess that it is nice and worth the price.
I'm not sure if she eventually ate it last night as I wasn't able to talk to the morning feeder, but this afternoon I tried sprinkling a little of her grain on top of the soaked cubes (I also used a little less water) and though she was a bit hesitant at first she eventually scarfed it all up. I think I might try giving her a little more tomorrow but I'm still unsure as to how much she eventually should get. She's about 1280 pounds right now.
I feed my horse 6 quarts (when dry) after her PM feeding. She won't eat them if they are soupy so I just soak them enough to make them break appart. I also feed them seperate from the grain or else she will throw them out of the bucket and just eat the grain.
I think most horses don't like them at first until they 'catch on'.
If your horse is not used to getting alfalfa, you should start with only 5 or 6 cubes. Don't make it too soupy initially. I like to use warm water - soaks faster. You can up the amount of cubes every couple of days with a few more cubes. I used a one pound coffee can as a measure, and would put a rounded can full of dry cubes in a small bucket, and then soaked them in warm water until they fluffed.
She wasn't running away with me, I just couldn't stop her!
Always soak. Seen more choke from alfalfa cubes. I add a couple handfulls rolled oats before I feed it. Have you considered something more calorie dense? There are several oil's on the market that horses eat well, and they have more calories than alfalfa. I also feed a daily wormer (in addition to a year round worming program) it seems to help horses put on and keep on weight. There is also a complete feed that has a large amount of beet pulp. Already processed so no soaking. It is Complete Advantage, I have found this to be the most helpfull.
Good Luck, (and of course you have checked teeth)
I feed mine soaked alfalfa cubes with each feeding. I put it in his tub first, then grain on top and he eats it up. I do make sure that the cubes break easily between my fingers before feeding to keep him from possible choking
Both of my seniors (24 & 27 years old) get soaked alfalfa cubes every day. I feed 1 & 1/2 3 qt scoops then I put them in a bucket and just barely cover them with hot water and soak for 20 - 30 minutes. I dump them into the feeder and dump their senior pellets on top. Both horses eat them like they won't ever get them again and will choose the alfalfa cubes over hay every time. I feed alfalfa cubes only in the winter time when my pasture is dormant because, despite having their teeth floated regularly, the 2 seniors have trouble chewing hay.
"My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."
My mare won't touch alfalfa cubes if they're mushy at all. I would just VERY SLIGHTLY dampen them. They'd still be in cube form, just kinda a bit softer and squishier. That's the only way she'll eat them.
Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!
I have a few situations currently where I am trying to add/keep weight on hard keepers. I do 1/2 bucket of the dried cubes and add probiotic (Fastrack) and rice bran - fill the rest with water. Old granny mare eats it up in addition to her grain. She just wads hay, but we still give her a flake for her to play with.
Others just get the rice bran with their grain. Did the oil thing but in the winter it's just gross
All os them have actually gained weight this winter and can actually get weaned from the bran come spring. Grannymare will still get the cubes though.
Our horses know our secrets; we braid our tears into their manes and whisper our hopes into their ears.
I am currently horse sitting 2 older horses. One of which just balls his hay. He also has choked in the past.
The cubes are well soaked and pretty mushy. The two horses split 1 Strongid C2X plastic container between the two of them. At lunch we just put it in the bottom of the hay rack. I think the mare gets a little more since she finishes her grain lunch sooner. They are fed outside on the fence.
Both of them have scarfed it up from day one.
I give 1/2 scoop soaked in a small bucket with lots of water. Started with 5 cubes and worked up. The senior horse gobbles it up (he had a rough time this winter holding weight). He has had an episode of choke in the past, so we make sure it is well broken up. Just mix it in with his grain (TC Senior) which I always soaked as well.
However, to put weight back on a younger horse, I use TC Senior. Great stuff! Not just for the older ones. Low NSC, higher fat, great fiber.
I noticed Sarah Ralston DVM recommends this product.
She is on this site and also at Rutgers.
I don't like the idea of feeding just these bisquits and no hay. For horses that have no teeth, ok, but for most horses, I like the effect long stemmed hay has on their gi tract.
Maybe Sarah will comment?
I agree and felt the same way 6 years ago. Before I say anything else, want to admit I do have a vested interest in this product as I have helped develop it and do get product in kind for my input so I totally admit to being biased! And if you can still get good quality hay for less than $6.00/bale and have the space to store it, stick with long stem hay as long as your horses don't waste >20% of it by pulling it out of the feeders and using it as bedding (as my old mare does)! Or at least include some in your rations for "munch" factor. Similar concerns were expressed about pelleted feeds when they were first introduced for horses in the 1970's and look how well accepted they are now!
That being said, I have been working with the Total Mix Ration product for over 5 years now and am totally convinced now (I was very skeptical at first!) that in 10 years most feed companies will be producing similar products. None of them currently are-the "complete" pellets or textured feeds can be eaten too fast to be fed free choice safely and limit feeding them can lead to wood chewing and other problems.
We have fed the TMR (Total mixed ration cubes) as the sole source of nutrition to weanlings and yearlings without any problems as long as they were free choice or at least fed at the rate of 2.5% BW per day (might need to divide into two or three feedings). Go to our website: http://younghorse.rutgers.edu to see what young horses fed the product exclusively look like. We have been feeding our current two year olds and yearlings the "Next Generation" product exclusively since October of last year. I did supplement the weanlings with 1-2 lbs of a concentrate designed for rapid growth twice a day last fall because the cube analysis was a bit shy on the Phosphorus content (All else was "on target"). We got a new batch in this January that on paper was perfect, but after 6 weeks of no concentrate at all I am starting the two yearling geldings (Percheron TB/QH crosses) on some concentrate because they are getting a bit ribby (growing very fast, VERY active and happy!) but the belgian/QH filly airferns are still getting just the "Next Generation" youth formula. We feed them dry, free choice and have not had a single case of choke in 6 years (did have one horse choke on his pellets when we compared pellet/hay to the cubes a few years ago!). I have several publications out on them that I would send to you if you want.
I love them and am currently feeding them to my own horses, but I admit I give our 3 draft cross airferns a small flake or two of low nutrient (over mature) hay at each feeding and limit feed the cubes (10 lbs twice a day). All three are slightly to majorly over weight (minimal riding-plus one is only a coming 2 year old!), dappled, active and happy-no pasture access at this time of year. My husband's 15'3, 1600 lb Belgian cross won reserve grand champion in a 25 mile Competitive Trail ride last fall on this regimen. My 23 year old anglo-arab mare is getting even less hay but looks and feels good-super shiny winter fur coat! And since my husband and I are both allergic to hay and have limited storage space (Typical NJ!) the bags of cubes are a LOT easier than bales of hay plus no waste! I just wish we had a distributor out here (I get my pallettes when the research delivery is made).