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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 25, 2005
    Location
    The Land of the Frozen
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    13,787

    Default Feeding a Percheron - alfalfa issues?

    I'm hoping the wise on the forum can point me in the right direction.

    I will getting a Percheron for the next 7 months as a border - his owner will be out of state. He's a gorgeous dressage horse, and is in perfect weight. He gets no grain and currently gets no vitamin/mineral or any other supplements. He eats mostly grass hay, free choice, but also about 1-2 lbs. of alfalfa per day.

    The owner is very concerned about him staying at optimum weight, obviously, and is worried that the hay I have may have too much alfalfa. I have access to just about anything, so can feed him whatever I need to. I have 4 different types of hay in the barn, one being a pure 2nd crop generic pasture grass, one being 75% orchard grass/25% alfalfa, then a 3rd crop alfalfa, and a 2nd crop alfalfa.

    I am aware of the EPSM risk with drafts, and this guy will only be getting a handful of Wellsolve and a vitamin/mineral supplement daily. The owner wants him started on one because his hoof health currently is really poor (shelly walls, huge chips and cracks).

    So anyway, am I best off to go with the pure grass and only do a tad of alfalfa as a treat, or do you think the 75/25 mix would be ok for him?

    This is my first experience with a draft, and given the fact the owner will be 1,500 miles away, I'd really rather not screw things up.

    Thanks for all the info you can give



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    7,943

    Default

    A2, if you don't get a response here, try cross posting this to the Off Course forum, as there are several draft horse owners there. Cielo Azure is a percheron owner and FiveHorses owns drafts.

    That said, the percheron farm that used to be near us (55+ show horses) fed grass hay and supplements to their horses (oats to the pregnant mares and youngsters, only) and their stock looked fabulous right through the winter! My percheron crossbred gets grass hay, supplements and a touch of grain to make them go down. He is an insanely easy keeper and doesn't need the extra calories that the alfalfa hay provides. Good luck!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2003
    Location
    NorthEast
    Posts
    24,508

    Default

    As a side suggestion not related to diet...has his owner kept him in regular work? If so, will you be exercising him while his owner is gone or will he just be hanging out?
    If he's going from regular work to relaxing while owner is away, his weight and body condition will fluctuate a bit. He may gain more due to no work, or he may lose body condition/muscle mass and his topline may droop a bit. Or both.
    So maybe take into consideration when adjusting his feed whether he's in work or not...or what type of work.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2007
    Posts
    1,807

    Default

    My biggests concern for a draft would be sugar levels.......has any of your hay been tested? I would wanting to be feeding this guy a local first cut of about 8% protien and about 10% ESC's or 10% WSC?

    Dalemma



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 29, 2005
    Location
    Ojai, CA
    Posts
    1,079

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chief2 View Post
    That said, the percheron farm that used to be near us (55+ show horses) fed grass hay and supplements to their horses (oats to the pregnant mares and youngsters, only) and their stock looked fabulous right through the winter! My percheron crossbred gets grass hay, supplements and a touch of grain to make them go down. He is an insanely easy keeper and doesn't need the extra calories that the alfalfa hay provides. Good luck!
    I'm not trying to hijack this thread but my question is how do you balance the extra calories in alfalfa vs. the higher sugar in grass (assuming it's orchard) hay? Couldn't a horse get just as chubby on grass hay as on a smaller amount of alfalfa? (I"m struggling with this with my own TB/Percheron cross.)
    R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

    Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    7,943

    Default

    ljc, I *think* you are asking me?

    The hay I use throughout the year is first cut timothy hay. Good and stalky, lousy for nutrition but great for keeping the gut moving. We learned that was best for our own horses after colic surgery at Tufts, as that is what they used there for their colic surgery horses. So it helps us to keep colic down to a minimum, and the horses can get a lot of it throughout the winter. They are grazing machines, so I want them to be able to spend their time eating hay without consequence, which they can't do with the alfalfa.

    The hay analysis is usually low in protein (6-8 percent) and not off the charts in sugar. We use one supplier who is a good friend of the barn, and has supplied all of the hay for decades. The farm is reserved several fields, sufficient enough to winter the herd. The perch farm did the same for the same reason, but cut their own timothy hay. One guaranteed cut each year, and your hay is in. Sometimes we don't get a 2nd cut around here. One farm is 85 acres, the other was 1200 acres, both of free roam. The vet figures the exercise they get alone on these pastures is equal to 27-30 miles of walking a day as they are constantly in motion. So in the winter, they must be grained a bit to keep the weight on.

    I use a low carb or TC Senior grain (approved for IR draft horses--not that mine is) in addition to the hay to keep the weight on in the winter and less of it in the summer to get the supplements down. A good general vitamin supplement, hoof supplement, joint supplement and worming gets the okay from the vet and finishes the picture. They get no sugary treats. And I use a weigh tape (which I know may be off, so my vet and I taped each horse and decided where he wanted each horses kept on it), keep a weekly log for each horse, and have had no problems with this method.
    Last edited by Chief2; Sep. 19, 2010 at 02:40 PM.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 13, 2003
    Location
    California USA
    Posts
    740

    Default

    Drafters are well known for being easy keepers.
    I would go slow with the alfalfa. Grass hay is best for them.
    The supplimnets are good and a little bit of grain to help them go down is OK.
    My big Arabian I only gave a cup full of grain with his suppliments. If I gave him more than that he got really squirrely.
    I would treat his feet with hoof conditioner just for a start. If you don't have any hoof conditioner you can use neatsfoot oil with a paint brush. Not the compound only the real thing. The compound has petrolium oil in it.
    Brush it on and rub it in to the coronet band and the hoof wall. It helps keep the natural moisture in the foot.
    Watch his weight. If he starts gaining to much then cut back.
    Alfalfa has lots of good nutrition but it is a hot feed.
    If he is not working then cut back on the alfalfa.
    If you can't ride him then longe him a bit each day.
    Just so he doesn't go soft and flabby.
    You will do OK with him.
    Be confident.
    JMHO
    sadlmakr



  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 26, 2001
    Location
    Mid Midwest
    Posts
    859

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    As a side suggestion not related to diet...has his owner kept him in regular work? If so, will you be exercising him while his owner is gone or will he just be hanging out?
    If he's going from regular work to relaxing while owner is away, his weight and body condition will fluctuate a bit. He may gain more due to no work, or he may lose body condition/muscle mass and his topline may droop a bit. Or both.
    So maybe take into consideration when adjusting his feed whether he's in work or not...or what type of work.
    Exercise change will be an issue and feed will need to be adjusted accordingly. I have drafts and the broodies with foals get a bit of alfalfa supplemented with their grass hay and pastures. The rest get grass hay and pasture.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2007
    Posts
    1,807

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chief2 View Post
    ljc, I *think* you are asking me?

    The hay I use throughout the year is first cut timothy hay. Good and stalky, lousy for nutrition but great for keeping the gut moving. We learned that was best for our own horses after colic surgery at Tufts, as that is what they used there for their colic surgery horses. So it helps us to keep colic down to a minimum, and the horses can get a lot of it throughout the winter. They are grazing machines, so I want them to be able to spend their time eating hay without consequence, which they can't do with the

    The hay analysis is usually low in protein (6-8 percent) and not off the charts in sugar. We use one supplier who is a good friend of the barn, and has supplied all of the hay for decades. The farm is reserved several fields, sufficient enough to winter the herd. The perch farm did the same for the same reason, but cut their own timothy hay. One guaranteed cut each year, and your hay is in. Sometimes we don't get a 2nd cut around here. One farm is 85 acres, the other was 1200 acres, both of free roam. The vet figures the exercise they get alone on these pastures is equal to 27-30 miles of walking a day as they are constantly in motion. So in the winter, they must be grained a bit to keep the weight on.

    I use a low carb or TC Senior grain (approved for IR draft horses--not that mine is) in addition to the hay to keep the weight on in the winter and less of it in the summer to get the supplements down. A good general vitamin supplement, hoof supplement, joint supplement and worming gets the okay from the vet and finishes the picture. They get no sugary treats. And I use a weigh tape (which I know may be off, so my vet and I taped each horse and decided where he wanted each horses kept on it), keep a weekly log for each horse, and have had no problems with this method.
    Can you define what you mean as far as not off the charts for sugar......timothy is generally pretty high.

    8% protien is considered more than adequate for horses in light work.

    Dalemma



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    7,943

    Default

    No I can't go further than that. The BO has the paperwork. It really wouldn't matter in this case, as this is the supplier we are using, period. My horses are easy keepers, and this works well for both of them. In the summer they get very little grain (a cup), and a touch more in the winter. Again, they get a lot of exercise, which may be the difference. I suppose if someone were looking at going this route they could ask their hay supplier for the analysis of the hay coming out of each field and chose accordingly.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2007
    Posts
    1,807

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chief2 View Post
    No I can't go further than that. The BO has the paperwork. It really wouldn't matter in this case, as this is the supplier we are using, period. My horses are easy keepers, and this works well for both of them. In the summer they get very little grain (a cup), and a touch more in the winter. Again, they get a lot of exercise, which may be the difference. I suppose if someone were looking at going this route they could ask their hay supplier for the analysis of the hay coming out of each field and chose accordingly.
    Well than you really can't make a statement that the sugars are not off the charts.!!! If you don't know the figures than you simply have no information to base your statement on.

    Dalemma



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    7,943

    Default

    You are absolutely right. The next time the BO tells me the numbers are safe, I will ask what they are, and refrain from posting on these issues in the future.



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