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  1. #1
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    Feb. 3, 2005
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    Default Is there a big difference in alfalfa between west coast and the midwest?

    My gelding, Johnny, is currently on a shipping van heading to western Wisconsin, from So Cal. I had planned to send a bale of his regular straight alfalfa hay with him, but there was no room on the trailer.

    I have looked around craigslist and found a few local supplies of alfalfa hay, but most are mixed with grass. I'm just wondering if there is a big difference in nutrients or consistency between alfalfa hay grown in the west, and alfalfa hay grown in the upper midwest?

    The boarding stable he is going to feeds an orchard/brome mix with a small amount of alfalfa. I'm trying to be careful to change his diet gradually, but not being able to send hay with him kind of threw a monkey wrench in those plans.
    Happiness is the sweet smell of horses, leather, and hay.



  2. #2
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    Jan. 11, 2012
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    High Desert, SoCal
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    Default

    The alfalfa back east is less stemmy (generally) than out here. I'm not sure of the protein level, but I grew up back there and NO ONE fed it exclusively because they were afraid of founder (I don't know how much truth there was in that belief). Most horses were fed timothy and supplemented with grain. I lived in Ohio.
    Allah took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it, and created the horse. Thou shall fly without wings, and conquer without any sword, O, Horse!
    Anonymous Bedouin legend


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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
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    MI USA
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    Default

    Could be a difference in minerals, depending on soil the hay is grown in. What are they feeding him on the trip, if there was no room for a bale?

    Without a hay test, you just wouldn't know the differences. Kind of like "beef" is meat, but organic, grass-fed on pasture, or feedlot fed, can make a difference in what it contains in kinds of fat, taste, textures. All are still beef, but may not be much alike to the consumer.

    Some horses never have an issue with hay changes. Owners buy from a different place for each load of hay. Horses on the road, rodeo, showing, get different hay quality and types, depending on where they are.

    Hope your boy does fine with his new hay and place!


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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 3, 2005
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Could be a difference in minerals, depending on soil the hay is grown in. What are they feeding him on the trip, if there was no room for a bale?

    He was picked up on a smaller rig and taken to their main facility an hour away where they loaded him in the big air ride van. There wasn't room on the smaller trailer for an extra bale of hay. They are feeding straight alfalfa on the trip, which I assume they got here in So Cal. I'm just worried about sudden hay changes once he is there, but I think if we can get some bales of mostly alfalfa he should be fine while we switch him onto the orchard/brome at his new place. I hope.
    Happiness is the sweet smell of horses, leather, and hay.



  5. #5
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    Mar. 15, 2007
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    Default

    It is ALL about the soil and the cutting that makes the alfalfa bale. That said, I have shipped horses around the country with my moves and I think you'll see a bigger difference in the transition to the new hay than you'll see in feeding various alfalfa bales. I shipped my current horse with a "home" bale of quality alfalfa (which was conveniently lost by the shippers within the short trip to their hub in Texas and so they substituted other hay) and the horse did just fine in a 5 day transit to the east coast. Midwest Alfalfa is very leafy and is good quality, similar to Colorado. I think your horse would be fine to supplement his hay with quality Midwestern alfalfa as he transitions to his new hay. You might want to consider keeping some alfalfa in his diet if you see his condition decline (which it will if the current hay isn't great quality - I know this by experience).
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2006
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    To answer the part of your question about what's different about Midwest alfalfa, In parts of the country, alfalfa is grown much more limitedly because of "blister beetle" that live on alfalfa. Some get killed and baled in the hay. 1 blister beetle will kill most 1,200 lb horses. There are steps growers and horse owners take, but I know many people that have a hard fast rule to never feed alfalfa for that reason. I personally have a horse that needs alfalfa to stay looking good and I have it shipped from the west coast (Idaho or Arizona). I'm paying $600-750/ton for hay that I drive 120 miles to pick up in the Midwest for the same hay I was getting for $180/ton 30 minutes from home.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
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    Yes, we can get it here but there is the danger of blister beetles and it's usually grown along with something else so it isn't straight alfalfa. We pay through the nose for the Western cubed alfalfa because it's better quality.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  8. #8
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    Feb. 3, 2005
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    Thank you for all the answers. It sounds like he should be fine with the local alfalfa until we have transitioned him onto the grass hay. I'm relieved. I don't want to upset his system any more than necessary.
    Happiness is the sweet smell of horses, leather, and hay.



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