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Speak to me about alfalfa cubes

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  • Speak to me about alfalfa cubes

    On a recent post, several responders suggested using alfalfa cubes. Are there any warnings/ caveats/ things needed to know about using alfalfa cubes? I know it's hard to believe but I've never used them- ever. If I wanted to feed alfalfa in the past, I just got a bale! and then I really didn't feel the need to use it that often . I'm guessing, like any other feed, you don't just dump a large quantity in their bucket and leave it at that. Feeds are to be changed over time. How do they adjunct to grain? Have any of you ever actually hydrated one down in a bucket of water?? They get BIG. I just don't want to cause more problems by tryng to solve a problem.
    " It's about the horse, and that's it."
    George Morris

  • #2
    My older horse gets alfalfa cubes every day as a supplement to keep weight on. We just put them in a bucket and fill the bucket with water and let it sit for a few minutes. I dump the sloppy stuff in his feed bucket and he cleans it up. I haven't encountered any problems with it. I would be concerned with choke if they weren't hydrated.

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    • #3
      Have a processing plant nearby so buy from them on occasion. Good quality hay is used and the hay is chopped, mixed with very small amt of some kind of binder (may be molasses...smells like it) and then put through extrusion machinery where it is compressed, heats up a little and comes out in long square strands that break into cubes. Seem to be drier than hay (but don't know for sure). Some crumble pretty easily and others are hard. Nutrition wise they are supposed to be pound for pound more food value...probably due to compression and drier situation....so I feed about 10-12 pounds of cubes as opposed to about 15 lbs of hay per feeding. They can be dusty and I will often sprinkle them with some water in a big flat pan or in the wheelbarrow and then give them to the horses after 15-20 minutes of soaking time...cuts dust and seems to make potential for choking less.
      Colored Cowhorse Ranch
      www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
      Northern NV

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      • #4
        I used to feed cubes, but got tired of soaking and the mess, so I use pellets now.
        "Humans will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple,
        or more direct than does Nature." ~Leonardo da Vinci

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        • #5
          We use them as treats, but take care to watch the size as it is possible to cause a choke. I had a boarder do that to her horse.
          Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
          http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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          • #6
            I use them as a supplement, soaking in warm water in the winter with a timothy balancer cube. Just part of the math.

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            • #7
              I use 'em all the time as a supplement to feed and hay, not only for weight gain but also because they settle upset, acidic horse tummies.

              I soak them in "weather appropriate" water (hot in winter, cold in summer) for about half an hour and feed the resulting slime as a separate meal.
              "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

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              • #8
                Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                I use 'em all the time as a supplement to feed and hay, not only for weight gain but also because they settle upset, acidic horse tummies.

                I soak them in "weather appropriate" water (hot in winter, cold in summer) for about half an hour and feed the resulting slime as a separate meal.
                This is what I do, and I apologize for not answering your original questions.

                I'm not a nutrition expert so won't speak of the nutrition "math". The concern with alfalfa as a main forage is the Ca/P ratio and I'm sure someone will comment with a much better grasp on the subject than I have.

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                • #9
                  I've used them when I couldn't get alfalfa hay. I prefer alfalfa hay over anything as long as I can get it.

                  Then I switched to alfalfa pellets because soaking the cubes can be a pain, and some of the horses didn't like the soaked cubes.

                  Once I also got a bad batch of cubes that smelled weird, and no one would eat them.

                  I would like the cubes a lot better if someone would invent some sort of alfalfa cube shredder that you could place over a bucket, place a few cubes in a hopper, crank a handle, and break the cubes up so then could be fed dry.

                  Or maybe I just did invent it? Is there a worthwhile market for a "cube crusher"?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by alterhorse View Post
                    I would like the cubes a lot better if someone would invent some sort of alfalfa cube shredder that you could place over a bucket, place a few cubes in a hopper, crank a handle, and break the cubes up so then could be fed dry.

                    Or maybe I just did invent it? Is there a worthwhile market for a "cube crusher"?

                    Sounds like a good idea to me....giant version of those little nut chopper things that screw onto the top of a jar, drop the nuts in, crank the handle and chopped nuts for brownies etc. Just would need bigger/stronger/longer teeth in it and a handle strong/long enough to provide leverage and easily crank around. LIKE IT!!
                    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                    www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
                    Northern NV

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by coloredcowhorse View Post
                      Sounds like a good idea to me....giant version of those little nut chopper things that screw onto the top of a jar, drop the nuts in, crank the handle and chopped nuts for brownies etc. Just would need bigger/stronger/longer teeth in it and a handle strong/long enough to provide leverage and easily crank around. LIKE IT!!
                      Just don't put them in the blender. DOESN'T work out so well...

                      I feed cubes instead of any bagged grain, as my mare is sensitive to soy, and the little ones are fatties. I soak them for about 15 minutes in the summer, a couple hours or overnight in winter. I just prepare the next meal when they are finished eating, or when I go out to toss hay. I love them, as it's very easy to hide meds, even significant amount of banamine liquid.

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        So - just so I don't screw up- I MUST soak them to feed them. That seemed logical to me, re choke and how much the one swelled when I put it down in water. Mn, I had a vision of THAT in a horse's gut - colic!! But War Admiral, you're right on the money of why I want to try using them - I have a big young Oldie who's tummy is very sensitive and I wanted to give him some to help w/ the acid. As a matter of fact, I really wanted to give some to his sisters too, as they tend to be a little " tummy delicate'. We breed, and the Ca/P ratio is not an issue for me. Now, tha generates another question I've been wondering, if anyone's heard the answer; are ulcers familial? All 3 of this mare's foals have had at least 1 ulcer attack. ( and they are treated like kings!) No other horses on the property, just this mare line. I wasalso told by someone on the Forum that alfalfa cubes would help " slow down" a blty eater. So I guess in that situation you feed them not soaked??? Dry cubes would makeme nervous I think.
                        " It's about the horse, and that's it."
                        George Morris

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                        • #13
                          Running Fox-
                          I had an ancient pony that we took in. My vet said she was well beyond old enough to "drink". She hardly had any teeth, my vet touched one when she was doing her physical exam when the old pony first came in and it fell out. We used the alfalfa pellets instead of the cubes and they soaked down alot quicker. She had the tendency to choke if we didn't make her soup. She was also on senior which soaked down and made a mash quite well.
                          I have mixed emotions on the dry cubes. If you have a horse that chews well and doesnt inhale them I would think they would be ok. But on the other hand if you have one that is a pig and loves to inhale them then I would be worried. I honestly prefer the bales to them. Mine love the leaves that fall off the stems when I throw the flake down. It's their favorite part!

                          On the ulcer side, I don't believe they are genetic per say but I know some breeds are more prone to them over others (ie. TB's) Alfalfa is supposed to help buffer the pH in the horses stomach. I have my old horse on a supplement that contains Bicarb and he has been doing well. I think I ordered it from SmartPak. He had a bad bout of sore feet last year and with the stress combined with the bute his stomach couldn't handle it. A million dollars worth of gastrogard later (or so it seemed)..... Horses constantly produce gastric acid in their stomach, they aren't like others that only produce it when they are eating. So that's one of the drawbacks for them. They are designed to eat 24 hours a day so that is the reason for the constant secretion. I hope you find your answer soon It's so hard trying to figure out what's right and wrong and what works and doesn't work for each horse!
                          I think alot of it is trial and error and each horse is different. What does your vet think?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                            I use 'em all the time as a supplement to feed and hay, not only for weight gain but also because they settle upset, acidic horse tummies.

                            I soak them in "weather appropriate" water (hot in winter, cold in summer) for about half an hour and feed the resulting slime as a separate meal.
                            This is how I use them too. My horse gets his second meal of the day pretty early in the afternoon, about 3pm usually, so I give them as another feeding later in the evening after he gets worked. I sort of use them as a "treat" on the days that I work him, I soak them while I have him out of his stall, so sometimes up to 2 hours, with about as much water as cubes (maybe just a little bit more water than cubes). I too use the weather appropriate water temp, warm right now because it's so cold here.

                            I wouldn't feed them dry. I used to feed my old horse dry cubes, and while he never had a problem, I worry about the choking risk. I think in the small quantities that they are usually fed (I usually feed about 2# dry), they're unlikely to change the Ca/Ph ratio significantly. But they're great for adding some calcium to the diet to buffer stomach acidity, and getting horses to drink more water during the winter months.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              We feed cubes with beep and 12% sweet feed. We wet them down but I don't think it would be an issue for the pony. I happen to really like the cubes because generally they are a better quality alfalfa than I can get in bales here in KY and no risk of blister beetles.
                              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                              Incredible Invisible

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                              • #16
                                Alfalfa cubes saved my old QH's life! He was way down on weight and had problems chewing. When we turned him out, he would slowly trot out into the pasture just so he could see the other horses, then just drop his head and eat. We didn't think he would make it thru the winter. We started feeding the alfalfa cubes, soaked with LOTS of water, threw in some beat pulp and he loved it. We soaked it all day (or night) so it totally turned to mush for the almost toothless guy. That was 3 years ago. Today he is fat and happy and races - bucking & farting - out of his pasture to see the other horses. Can not believe the change in him. An added benefit is that I know he is getting alot of extra water during the winter when many horses don't drink enough. We have also started soaking just a few cubes before we go riding and give them to our trail horses while we are tacking up. Again - they get some extra water before hitting a dry trail where there is nothing for them on a hot day. As others have said - don't feed them dry. A vet tech friend said they see many horses choke/colic on the dry cubes.

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