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Feeding hay alternatives to sport horses - school thesis, please help!

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  • Feeding hay alternatives to sport horses - school thesis, please help!


    Does any of you feed alternatives of a baled meadow/grass hay (hay cubes, alfalfa hay, haylage, beet pulp, etc.) to your horses in moderate to hard workload? Do you substitute all of the hay in their diet or just a part of it? I'm writing a thesis about hay alternatives, so I would like to know how many of you actually use them while feeding your sport horses.

    Thanks! :-)

  • #2
    Originally posted by LoveEillia View Post

    Does any of you feed alternatives of a baled meadow/grass hay (hay cubes, alfalfa hay, haylage, beet pulp, etc.) to your horses in moderate to hard workload? Do you substitute all of the hay in their diet or just a part of it? I'm writing a thesis about hay alternatives, so I would like to know how many of you actually use them while feeding your sport horses.

    Thanks! :-)
    What level school is this?

    I will say in general that alfalfa cubes and beet pulp or feeds that contain them are components of many horses "grain" ration rather than a substitute for hsy.

    Alfalfa in the bale is considered hay in North America. In the Southwest some people feed only alfalfa. It has a different nutrition profile than grass hay.

    Haylage is rarely fed in North America.

    In general people keep healthy sport horses on a hay first diet, with grain feed as needed. I think it is rare to substitute substantial amounts of forage for beet pulp or alfalfa cubes. Both need to be soaked and that is inconvenient. When soaked they take up a huge volume.

    The horses that need substantial hay replacement are the old fellows with no teeth. Those are the horses that live on beet pulp, alfalfa cubes, and a senior complete feed.


    • #3
      I feed BP and alfalfa pellets on top of the regular daily hay ration (and grass forage during the nice months). In future I'll definitely be quicker to offer BP and alf pellets to all of my future horses who need the calories... I spent too long trying to find a complete feed or ration balancer that would work for my mare when this forage combo is not only her favourite, but the most "natural" option.


      • #4
        In California I've heard of a few barns that feed cubes only (though none where I've boarded). I don't know if it's still the case but for a while Standford Equestrian Center did. Also Menlo Circle Club isn't cubes only, but you get a discounted rate if you do cubes instead of hay.


        • #5
          In Hawaii it is common place for horses to be fed hay cubes, typically unsoaked. Hay is prohibitively expensive for many. A highly compressed #40 bale of timothy is around $45. I never noticed any difference in performance and most horses did just fine on dry cubes. Older, toothless horses needed theirs soaked, but they still ate only cubes. Or cubes and grain.
          For the horse color genetics junky


          • #6
            We've got a few horses in our barn who get soaked alfalfa cubes, but it's a winter-only thing and is a supplement to rather than a replacement of the usual hay ration for the harder keepers due to the lack of good grass outside. Once the weather turns and the grass starts coming back in they'll all come off of it until winter rolls around again.


            • #7
              last year due to the hay shortage and indifferent quality hay I did substitute about 20% of my horses hay with soaked alfalfa cubes and beet pulp. Worked well nutrition wise, would not do much more as the "chew time" isn't there and the horses get bored and into trouble.


              • #8

                I boarded at a place in SoCal that started feeding cubes instead of hay.

                Another place I boarded (also SoCal) about 10 years after that started to do the same thing maybe 3 days out of the wee but I left not long after that.
                Lots of things you could do with a stopwatch...


                • #9
                  While my horses are on pasture almost 24/7, they do also get a chopped hay product from Seminole, and alfalfa cubes soaked, with every meal. They all also get two cups of orchard/apple pellets (not much fiber in those, tho; I add it to make my air ferns think they are getting a full measure of feed...). An equalizer/balancer fills out the ration, with just a bit of a high fat feed. In the winter (like now) they get a few flakes of hay out in the field as well.)


                  • #10
                    In Australia it is very common to add "chaff" to the complete feed or ration balancer. Chaff is chopped up hay, and is easily found as lucerne (alfalfa), oaten or wheaten or a combination of these. Hay cubes or alfalfa pellets aren't used that much because of this.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thank you all for your replies, they're very helpful! :-)


                      • #12
                        Unsoaked hay cubes have been a pretty common feed in Southern California, especially for any barns on a budget. I've not really encountered issues with that around choking. Traditionally once a decade or so there's a botulism outbreak from a tainted supply.
                        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket