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  1. #1
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    Feb. 11, 2010
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    Default Alfalfa for ulcers: Hay, Pellets or Cubes??

    Just wondering if there is any benefit of feeding one type over another when it comes to feeding alfalfa to the ulcer prone horse? I have the option of getting any of the above so if one is better than the other I figured I would go with that.

    Thanks!



  2. #2
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    Hay would be my first choice- it's not processed. Next choice is cubes- they can be soaked. Last choice is pellets- not sure that much stomach acid buffer benefit comes from alfalfa pellets and that is just my hunch, no science behind it.


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  3. #3
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    I take it the horse will be getting regular (non-alfalfa) hay as well? I like feeding cubes, as I can take a few and soak them and they expand to several times their size. I've never fed pellets, so I can't speak to how well those work.

    Here's a link to an article I found on TheHorse.com

    Bicarbonate, which acts as a buffering agent, is released into the saliva with chewing. Forage, especially alfalfa, in a full stomach also serves as a buffer. Andrews adds, "Alfalfa hay ‘protects' the stomach by buffering stomach acid and increasing the pH of the gastric juices, with one flake of alfalfa hay buffering stomach pH for five to six hours. This effect may not last as long with alfalfa-based pellets or cubes because the small size of the pellets might hasten stomach emptying.
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  4. #4
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    The buffering comes from the minerals in the alf, not the form But, the hay would stay in the stomach a bit longer. Hay is nearly always the best choice for reasons that hay is the staple of the diet. But the others can do nicely as well, particularly if you want to get a pound or so eaten right before a ride to help with acid issues. The pellets could be eaten much more quickly - 1lb isn't a lot of volume.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foxhound View Post
    I take it the horse will be getting regular (non-alfalfa) hay as well?


    Yes. He gets 3/4-1 bale of grass hay (35lb bales) a day. Split into two feedings. I am already feeding tums before riding as an acid reducer. I was thinking I could add a flake of alfalfa to his AM and PM hay feedings to help ward off acid production throughout the day. Hay or pellets would be easiest for the BM to feed since cubes have to be soaked ( or should be) so I would probably go with pellets if I decide against the hay.

    I am wondering if the hay will be alot more costly?? I will have to check what Alfalfa bales are running for these days...



  6. #6
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    A-pellets are, for me anyway, in the $13-16/50lb range. A 50lb bale of a-hay wouldn't be but maybe 1/2 that for me.
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  7. #7
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    I *thought* I read somewhere that the pellets weren't as effective as the flakes or cubes, but I can't remember where I read it!

    My guy wouldn't eat the pellets. He finally eats the cubes, but it's taken a while to get him to try them. Sometimes they need to develop a taste for alfalfa, it seems...



  8. #8
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    I don't know if this would work for you, but my horse gets his hay in a small-mesh net when he's in his stall. He's prone to wasting it, so this lets me keep hay in front of him at all times without letting him suck it all down at once, or worse, use it as bedding.

    Alfalfa cubes are certainly easier and tidier to store than bales. I think I recall reading somewhere that cubes are preferable to pellets because the hay isn't chopped as finely, so they digest it more slowly.

    You may also find that if you feed regular hay and baled alfalfa, your horse might turn up his nose at the hay and clean up the alfalfa, like a finicky cat. I've seen this happen before, usually at barns where there are people around between feedings. Like a cat wanting canned food rather than kibble, the horse keeps asking for the good stuff when he's already got a heap of perfectly good, although less tasty, hay in the stall.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkevent View Post
    I *thought* I read somewhere that the pellets weren't as effective as the flakes or cubes, but I can't remember where I read it!

    My guy wouldn't eat the pellets. He finally eats the cubes, but it's taken a while to get him to try them. Sometimes they need to develop a taste for alfalfa, it seems...
    Hmmm...that's interesting. I have fed cubes in the past as a snack and my guy gobbles them up. I have never fed pellets though but my friend has some I could try before I buy a whole bag. I will have to check out bales at the feed store. Maybe 2-3 bales will last as long as a bag of cubes/pellets.....



  10. #10
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    Apr. 2, 2008
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    Hay

    Not only is it not processed but will last much longer and give the horse more chewing satisfaction than either cubes or pellets.

    Is there some way to break up his other hay into smaller more frequent feedings - its not so much the volume of hay you feed to an ulcer horse but that the amount of time he goes without is reduced or eliminated.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnKShowmom View Post
    Hay

    Not only is it not processed but will last much longer and give the horse more chewing satisfaction than either cubes or pellets.

    Is there some way to break up his other hay into smaller more frequent feedings - its not so much the volume of hay you feed to an ulcer horse but that the amount of time he goes without is reduced or eliminated.
    Sighhh....the downsides of a boarding barn...

    I could probably get the BM to feed him a flake at lunch but I feel bad asking for something none of the other horses currently receive. Although I would be the one supplying the extra hay so it's not like it would be costing them anything extra other than a few minutes...

    My vet will be coming in a couple weeks for spring shots. If she advocates the alfalfa at lunch (which I am betting she will) then I think the BM/BO will be alot less likely to feel like they are just being asked to meet the demands of a high maintenance boarder or something..



  12. #12
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    I personally would never feed alfalfa pellets dry--they are very hard and if your horse has ANY tendency to choke, these could set it off. My mare has choked twice on alfalfa pellets. The first time they were dry. Then I started adding oil to them, but that still left them very hard and she choked on that too. Now I add water to them several hours ahead of feeding her and by the time she is fed, they are all soft and puffed up. She does fine with that.

    Some horses like the taste of alfalfa hay, but won't touch pellets or cubes unless they are dressed up w/something tasty. My mare is like that. I have to add flavored oil to get her to eat alf pellets or cubes, but she LOVES alf hay.



  13. #13
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    Depends on the pellets. The kind I get I can easily break apart with my fingers. They are small and skinny - not the big fat ones you get in some areas. If I add water to mine, it's a matter of about 5 minutes before they are puffed up.
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  14. #14
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    I honestly haven't priced the pellets or cubes, but for my own convenience I feed alfalfa hay. Since myhorse is on turnout with two other horses 24/7 I just feed it to him when I am there (which is pretty much every day without exception). If I am riding he gets some right before I ride and some right after. If I am not riding and I am there for something else, I bring my horse in to an empty stall and let him eat while I do other things then turn him back out. I am trying to come up with a better solution but right now, he get s two hay feedings and some alfalfa that way plus his "grain" feeding (which is really beet pulp and ultium so notreally grain per se). Not ideal but the best I can do with my situation. It really is very easy to toss a horse a flake or two of the alfalfa hay part way through the day if they are by themselves though I would think....
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  15. #15
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    I chose Lucerne Farms Alfa Supreme as a snack for the horse I'm riding. Easier to store than hay but longer stems than cubes or pellets. The downside is that it's more expensive (about $14-15 for a 40 lb bag).
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  16. #16
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    I'm using compressed alfalfa hay - the bales are hefty and quite small (adorably tiny, actually). That might be an option for folks who have trouble storing lots of hay. The price is better than the bagged stuff too.. I paid $11 (at Tractor Supply, I paid for convenience) and the bales are probably 50 lbs+



  17. #17
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    I'd go easy on the alfalfa hay if he's not used to it. I've seen more than a few horses get the runs from it. Gut disruption could be the reason many oldtimers believe alfalfa causes laminitis.

    Also, depending where you are, alfalfa can be quite stemmy and hard to chew, particularly 1st cut. The cost for straight alfalfa in the Northeast is very high compared to timothy or orchard grass - if you can even find something that's not a bale of thick sticks.



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