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  1. #1
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    Default Protein for older horses

    My two guys are getting up in years (18-20 range). One health care professional says they should get extra protein as they don't process what they eat as efficiently as youngsters; she likes that I feed some alfalfa. Another one says extra protein is too hard on their kidneys, and would prefer I feed no alfalfa.

    So, I'm gathering opinions ... (just for my own info; I plan to continue to keep alfalfa in their diets, but will reconsider if the opinions are strong against)
    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

    Spay and neuter. Please.



  2. #2
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    Mar. 4, 2004
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    I agree with the first one. The oldies still need their protein, and as long as they don't have existing kidney issues, there should be no problems with it. My 19 year old eats a 14% protein "grain" plus alfalfa pellets. She looks and does great with them. We also usually switch to a 30% ration balancer in the summer. No plans to change just because she's older.
    Caitlin
    *OMGiH I Loff my Mare* and *My Saddlebred Can Do Anything Your Horse Can Do*
    http://community.webshots.com/user/redmare01



  3. #3
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    Jan. 16, 2002
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    If you add up how much protein is in the hay/forage (there are plenty of places where a guesstimate can be made if you don't have it analyzed) and the concentrate, you might find that the horse is getting more than enough. If they're not getting a lot of grain, maybe an essential amino acid supplement or product with at least some extra lysine (oats!) can be helpful.

    Generally speaking, excess protein is not "hard on the kidneys". Kidneys that are not functioning well can have a hard time handling excess protein. An important distinction. If the horses' kidneys are in good shape, they should not have any trouble with a bit of extra protein and will simply dump what is not needed. Or turn it into fat.
    Click here before you buy.



  4. #4
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    My twice-daily-eagerly-anticipated-feeding/supplement vehicle--what most people call "grain"--is soaked pellets, half timothy, half alfalfa, about a pound and a half (dry wt) each meal. The fat one gets no more alf than that, the harder keeper gets one flake of the super-compressed Standlee alfalfa hay from TS at night. My usual "good" hay has some alfalfa in it; I'm out of that now, have some T/O for "good" hay (7-8% protein, I was told), hence the stuff from TS. My munching hay is plain local fescue, just something to keep them occupied when I'm at work all day (summer they're out on fescue pasture; summer is late this year). So it's not like I'm drowning them in it. For sups, they get a general vit/min (Accel), glucosamine, MSM, 1/4 cup of flax*, Remission, a vit E capsule.

    Nothing against oats, but neither of mine are crazy about them, go figure, and I find I end up feeding a lot of birds on whole oats--do you feed whole or rolled?

    *evidence that the soy issue was not the phytoestrogens, but a general allergic reaction to soy protein. Tho, granted, it's not that much flax.
    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

    Spay and neuter. Please.



  5. #5
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    Jun. 30, 2006
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    Middle Tennessee
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    The high protein content of alfalfa products can be misleading depending on what stage of growth it was at when it was cut and how many leaves were retained. If feeding mature and stemmy alfalfa (or products derived from it), most of the protein will be unable to be digested in the small intestines. All that protein isn't even going to see the kidneys, or anywhere else in the horse for that matter-- it's going to be passed as ammonia in the manure or utilized by microbials in the hind gut.

    I think alfalfa gets an undeserved bad rap from a lot of folks. My 2 cents: I'd definitely keep them on the alfalfa...
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


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  6. #6
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    Dec. 13, 1999
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    Agree with DW that you're very unlikely to run into a "not enough protein" situation for any horse, but you could easily be in a "not enough lysine" situation. Alfalfa is a good source of lysine, iirc somewhere in the 4gm/lb range give or take, so just a few pounds of alfalfa not only gives that boost, but is usually easily digested, quality protein and calories.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  7. #7
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    TX
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    Our 30 year old would still be here if he had not hurt his knee beyond repair bucking and playing around while coming in from the pasture.
    He was fat and sassy for the 20 years we had him here, on only very good quality alfalfa hay and our native pasture.

    A friend just put her 42 year old to rest and he too had been on alfalfa all his life.

    Unless your horse has some contraindication against what is in alfalfa and is doing well on it, why stop?



  8. #8
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    Aug. 28, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by monstrpony View Post
    Another one says extra protein is too hard on their kidneys, and would prefer I feed no alfalfa.
    Based on outdated data by about 25 years. I take it the vet that said this graduated a LONG time ago?
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
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    3 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Oct. 25, 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    Our 30 year old would still be here if he had not hurt his knee beyond repair bucking and playing around while coming in from the pasture.
    He was fat and sassy for the 20 years we had him here, on only very good quality alfalfa hay and our native pasture.

    A friend just put her 42 year old to rest and he too had been on alfalfa all his life.

    Unless your horse has some contraindication against what is in alfalfa and is doing well on it, why stop?
    Timely thread! I was just thinking idly last night about how to get a little more protein into one of our 30-plus guys, who's dropped a little muscle mass recently and will not eat anything but hay or Hay Stretcher. He LOVES alfalfa.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
    Based on outdated data by about 25 years. I take it the vet that said this graduated a LONG time ago?
    This particular source was not a vet; I used the term "health care professional" for a reason That this was said, though, means that this belief is still floating around.
    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

    Spay and neuter. Please.



  11. #11
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    Mar. 10, 2007
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    Montana
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    Our 33 year old mare is getting about 20 lbs of straight dairy grade alfalfa hay a day, plus about 5 lbs of a 16% complete horse feed plus oil, and free choice grass and bluegrass "hay". She's shiny and full of herself.

    We've kept all our horses on nearly straight alfalfa for years and they do great on it. No kidney problems amongst us.



  12. #12
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    Nov. 29, 2008
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    A protein level of 14% is pretty common for a Senior feed.

    Iv'e had a few horse live on into their 30's on senior feed, good pasture, and quality grass hay. I'm a believer that blanketing in the winter helps older horses retain weight, and increases longevity.


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