I am going to start giving my older horse, King, alfalfa cubes to help him get through the nights this winter. He used to get them when he was younger and in work, but then I lost my supplier and, King retired and ... well ... now I think he needs the supplementation again (he is coming 31 this winter).
Question is -- should I soak them? I didn't when I gave them before. He loved them, and would eat them very slowly -- I used to say he would chew them like an old man chews tobacco. But, he's seven years older now, so I wonder if I should soak them for him now (sidebar: he HATES anything soaked and/or soupey, turns his nose up at any kind of mash and won't touch soaked beet pulp).
If the cubes should be soaked, any suggestions about how long to soak them?
Also, King has never choked, he does not gobble or bolt his food, and he honestly never over-eats. He will walk away from food when he has had enough. Never been over or under-weight, never foundered. He has the most perfect appetite of any horse I've known.
Her Royal Highness, aka my soon to be 33 yo mare, never cared for mashes either. However she loves her soaked alfalfa cubes!!! We started feeding them about 3 years ago.
Soak for at least 10-15 minutes to soften the cubes. This will help to keep his older teeth and mouth from getting sore.
Another point is I use the soaked cubes as one more way to get water in her during the winter. Something to keep in mind as older horses 'often' don't drink as well as they once did.
"Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
Courtesy my cousin Tim
I soak them for 30 minutes in warm water and then drain them.
That may somewhat defeat your purpose since it's also depleting it of some of the nutrients, but it's warm, moist but not soupy, and my horses love it. Maybe start there and see if your guy develops a taste for it. Then he might be more inclined to continue eating it with a little more water left in.
I hope King has a good winter. You must have taken very good care of him.
I'm going to try soaking them and see if he will eat them. That makes the most sense. I'll let you know how it goes.
Thanks for the good wishes, I hope King has a good winter, too. He is a very special guy, much loved. He is now teaching the granddaughter to ride, and she adores him. We are not ready to let him go yet!
I fed my 43 yr old horse soaked alfalfa cubes. I filled a large strongid bucket 1/2 way and then added hot water from the tap untll it covered the cubes by about an inch above them. Wait about 20 mins. Do not strain you will be getting rid of nutrients in the water and a bit more water is always a good thing.
He did great on these and had only about 5 teeth in his head. He also ate soaked eq Sr.
I was at a barn for 10+ years where all the horses (20+ stalls) were fed unsoaked cubes two or three times a day. Never saw or heard of a single choke. The only horse fed soaked cubes was one with teeth issues.
At 30/31, teeth are probably a concern, so I'm with the others saying soak. I wouldn't for the average horse, but at his age better to soak than risk that his teeth can't manage the cubes properly.
I fed a horse dry alfalfa cubes, that is his hay, that is all he gets besides his beet mush. He drinks well since he always has two buckets of clean, fresh water, and he doesn't bolt his cubes as they are fed in one of those Amazing Graze toys, to keep him busy and makes him "graze" his stall.
I don't worry about him choking, as he is not one to bolt his food.
Soaked is better. That said, our 23 year old loves dry alfalfa cubes and won't touch them if they are wet. I even tried a heated bucket in case the cold water was the problem. He does like Dengie and will eat Equine Senior and the beet pulp based Omolene 400.
My 28 year old mare loves her soaked alfalfa/timothy cubes and beet pulp pellets. She gets a full bucket of soaked mush twice a day. I top it with her senior pellets and alfalfa pellets. She has gained weight and looks fantastic.
I would NEVER serve alfalfa cubes dry.
"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."
I'm going to be feeding alfalfa cubes to the elder pony this winter in addition to his senior mush. I plan to give him a bucket at night check. Is there anyway to keep what he doesn't eat right away from freezing? Maybe a bucket cozy?
"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant
I was feeding soaked alfalfa cubes to my 30 yr old gelding. I would put the cubes in a bucket with water in the am for the pm feeding and so on. So, they would soak all day and then the next batch would soak overnight (indoors).
I stopped the other day as he's been having watery stools (formed stool with watery) so my vet suggested stopping the cubes to see if they were the culprit. So far after 4 days the stools appear to be normal. I guess we'll go back to beet pulp for him instead. Too bad as he really enjoyed his soaked cubes!