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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2012
    Location
    Fern Creek, KY
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    Default Feeding alfalfa cubes?

    Ms. Mare is moving to her new digs next week, and I'm having a bit of a hard time finding good quality hay (self care facility). A few of the other boarders feed alfalfa cubes and suggested that I feed that instead instead of wasting money on iffy looking hay. It makes sense, but I know exactly nothing about feeding cubes.

    I have a few obnoxious questions...

    How would I determine how much she needs? She'll be out 12-14 hours at a time, weather depending, and receiving grain 2x's a day. She currently gets about a handful of Neutrena Safe Choice once a day, just to get her supplements. She's pretty "fluffy" at the moment, being out 24/7, so I'm hoping that having her in part of the day will help trim her down a bit. She's 17.1 and not exactly an air fern but not hard to keep weight on either. She can have a 'hot' button, but seems to have settled down A LOT this year, overall, despite multiple changes. I don't want to feed anything that's going to reignite the flames!

    The only time I've seen cubes fed, they were fed dry. Everything I'm reading says to soak it to avoid choke. How much water and how long? She isn't the greatest drinker right now either, so I like the idea of getting extra water into her.

    How would I transition her over to them? She's never had them before. Before she was going out 24/7 she would get grain in the morning, go out for 12 or so hours, then come in to grain and 3-4 flakes of hay.

    I don't want her to be bored either, when she's in. I know that having forage in front of them is the best way to go, but if the hay isn't great, she won't touch it.

    I'm a little confused and a bit overwhelmed by all the options. I would prefer to feed loose hay, but I don't want to waste money on junk either. Am I being totally hair brained here?

    Looking for some of that wonderful COTH education I always seem to find.
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 30, 2007
    Location
    Illinois, USA
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    8,199

    Default

    I just can't imagine that in KY, there are no good hay suppliers around. Hay cubes are not going to be cost effective.

    Have you checked craigslist, looked at the bulletin board in the farm stores? Asked your vet, your farrier, your trainer?
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 15, 2013
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    302

    Default

    I would buy some poor quality hay to give her something to munch on, and the use then cubes to up her nutrition.

    Cubes are fed by weight, just like hay. So if you fed 5lbs of hay, you'd feed 5 lbs of cubes.

    They can be fed dry or wet. Ive done both for long periods but I normally soak them only because its easier to mix with the rest of her feed that way, and it's an easy way to increase her water intake. But I wouldn't worry about choke feeding them dry, unless your horse is prone to it.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2012
    Posts
    355

    Default

    If she's in, try a slow feeder hay net (Freedom Feeders are the ones we use). Less hay waste, and IMO you end up feeding less over time, as they are able to 'constantly graze' on the net, slow down their eating, and not 'scarf everything up' the minute you throw it out.
    I feed alfalfa cubes to all my horses except my super easy keeper ponies. Like Beet Pulp shreds, which I feed to ALL of my horses, I soak them overnight for the AM feeds, and all day for PM feeds, so maybe 8-10 hours of soaking (?) at a ratio of 1 part alf cubes to 3 parts water. They soak up a ton of water, and I would rather them end up being too soupy than too dry. Never feed either of those products dry.
    I start any horse on them a very little amount at a time, usually giving them a few soaked cubes per meal, gradually building it up over about 2 weeks to whatever amount I plan to give full time.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2012
    Location
    Fern Creek, KY
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    Default

    Sublime- I'm 'on the list' for a couple of different people, but want to have something to feed her in case I can't find anything in time. It was an option that was thrown out to me, and I wanted to educate myself on it as it seemed to be an attractive one! I just re-read my OP and realized that I didn't quite word it the right way. I scour Craigslist daily!

    I didn't think about trying a slow feeder type hay net. Usually she'll sniff around it and then just turn her nose up if it's too stalky. I find it ground up in her poop in the morning. At least if its' in a net, she can't grind it up!

    Thank you all for the info!
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 21, 2010
    Posts
    2,167

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilypad View Post
    I would buy some poor quality hay to give her something to munch on, and the use then cubes to up her nutrition.
    This is what I do. I moved south with my horses, and had to start feeding crappy coastal bermuda after raising them all on timothy/orchard. I supplement with the hay cubes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Superminion View Post
    The only time I've seen cubes fed, they were fed dry. Everything I'm reading says to soak it to avoid choke. How much water and how long? She isn't the greatest drinker right now either, so I like the idea of getting extra water into her.

    How would I transition her over to them? She's never had them before. Before she was going out 24/7 she would get grain in the morning, go out for 12 or so hours, then come in to grain and 3-4 flakes of hay.

    I don't want her to be bored either, when she's in. I know that having forage in front of them is the best way to go, but if the hay isn't great, she won't touch it.

    You'd be surprised at how much water those things soak up. I put two big double handfuls in a 2 gal bucket and then fill that ~3/4 of the way full with water. The one time one of my horses managed to get a dry hay cube, he choked. I'd never feed them dry, but know people who do.
    Mine only need 10 minutes or so to soak all the way through (I get the Standlee timothy/alfalfa cubes). I usually clean stalls or fill haynets while it's soaking.

    I'd transition her over the way you would with any other feed. Maybe over a week or two.

    If she's getting a lot of soaked cubes, it'll take her a while. My horses get minimal (like, 1-2lbs of cubes, then soaked in like 7-8lbs of water) and it takes them maybe 15 minutes to even eat that. And they're Morgans who hoover like no one's business. It's a messy disaster, though. But they love that stuff; I call it their crack. It elicits the same response grain does.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2012
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    748

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    I feed alfalfa cubes for weight gain, and because my horse is a very hard keeper, ulcer prone and under a considerable amount of work.

    Like regular alfalfa hay, they're high protein so probably not a good option for a horse who's getting on the porky side! Actually, in your case, less than stellar hay may actually be beneficial since it will be poorer - and the horse can go grab all the nutrition from the supplements and grass. Over the winter, its a different story and I would consider supplementing with cubes then - but right now, I really don't think you need them.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 8, 2008
    Posts
    510

    Default

    I feed cubes, like many here in Hawaii, as it's cheaper than hay. Hay is around $40 for a 100lb bale of timothy. I feed about 50/50 hay and cubes, roughly 5 lbs of each am and pm. It's pretty easy to feed by weight and I feed them dry. Mare learned how to eat them pretty quick and has never choked. She also eats slowly and tends to pulverize the cubes with her front teeth then munch on them. If you have a food bolter it might be best to soak. (Soaking isn't practical at the ranch as the feed ladies have to feed 50 horses spread out over 100 acres. The heat would cause fermentation if soaked too far in advance.)



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2006
    Posts
    679

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    I soak mine. The big bucket gets about 2 layers of cubes (so 4" or so), topped up 3/4 of the way with cold water in the summer (and hot in the winter). I put the water in before I ride, by the time I'm done it has soaked through and is ready to eat. They love their alfalfa soup.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2012
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    Fern Creek, KY
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    Default

    Thanks everybody! COTH rocks, as usual.

    I didn't realize that most people use cubes to put weight on... she certainly doesn't need anything extra at this point. It may be something to revisit once I can get her to drop the weight, but hoping by then I can find a good supplier! This is my first foray into real self care... talk about learning curve!

    I do think that you're right, SCMSL, about the poorer quality hay being better since she's fluffy. Perhaps feeding less in a hay bag will help reduce waste and put something in front of her face over night. I can always soak the hay as well, to reduce dust so she'll be less likely to turn her nose up at it.
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 24, 2004
    Posts
    2,657

    Default

    I feed Triple Crown Timothy Balance Cubes - see link below:

    http://www.triplecrownfeed.com/produ...uinenutrition/

    They are made of Timothy hay instead of alfalfa. The cubes are smaller and slightly softer than normal hay cubes which can be rock hard. I always soak cubes no matter what - choke is nasty to deal with and I've seen some horrible cases. These cubes have low NSCs which I prefer with all my feeds. My mare really likes these but she didn't care for the alfalfa cubes that are out there.

    Have you looked into feeding a forage like these?

    http://www.triplecrownfeed.com/produ...rsefeedbrands/

    There are other brands out there that make similar forages - might be an option too (though can get expensive if you rely on it solely).

    "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 27, 2008
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    Default

    I feed those Timothy Balance cubes from Triple Crown that Ryansgirl mentioned. They are especially made for tubby guys. My horses LOVE them. I soak them for just a few minutes, and they fluff up into something that looks and smells like fresh grass. It's a balanced feed and does not require supplementation.
    I have a Fjord! Life With Oden



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2012
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    Vermont
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    Default

    If she doesnt' need the calories from alfalfa, see if you can find just timothy cubes instead.

    Cubes can be equally substituted for hay, they are considered long stem forage. So, feed by weight whatever you would normally feed in loose hay. [I think I saw this mentioned above so apologies if this is a repeat!]
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep. 7, 2009
    Location
    Lexington, KY
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    There's plenty of hay in KY. Have you asked at your local Southern States? Here's the track supplier, I'd guess he's pricey, but so is feeding hay cubes. http://www.philpothay.com/hay-for-sale/

    If you don't know how to chose decent hay, maybe a local COTHer can lend a hand. There's no shortage of hay this summer.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul. 17, 2009
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    south eastern US
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    I feed alfalfa cubes to my seniors. They are on pasture 24/7 but they still need a little extra. I feed them 1 large scoop (approx 2.5 pounds each feeding) I put them in a bucket and cover them and a little more with water. They only need to soak for 20 - 30 minutes before they start falling apart. For the really old seniors I also add beet pulp pellets, they have to soak a lot longer - 3 or 4 hours to fully absorb their water.

    As with any other food change start slow, offering him a small amount at first, gradually upping the amount offered until he's eating it. Some horses like it mushier and some like it dryer so you'll have to experiment.
    "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."



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