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Tell me about Alfalfa pellets/Timothy pellets/Cubes....for older toothless horses

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  • Tell me about Alfalfa pellets/Timothy pellets/Cubes....for older toothless horses

    We have an older horse who we're going to stop feeding hay to because of an inability to chew it well enough to be safe (flat molars - he quids). Worried about choke, colic, of course. Hard decision but I know lots of people successfully replace their older horses' hay ration with soaked hay cubes and/or pellets. This horse gets a lot of TC Senior & beet pulp which is currently the bulk of his calories, plus some T&A dengie, but he needs more. I also feel bad that he'll no longer have hay to keep him occupied for hours while in his stall

    Will he still have trouble eating soaked cubes? I'm considering soaked alfalfa and/or timothy pellets too (not hay stretcher). The reason I'm thinking about a combo of soaked cubes & hay pellets is at least cubes have long stem fibers whereas hay pellets are basically ground up hay. I assume he'd have the easiest time getting the soaked pellets down though.

    Re the protein level of alfalfa cubes/pellets, would it be safe to feed them? Or should I mix them with timothy cubes and pellets for a lower level of protein (albeit not as tasty)?

    Thanks for any input!
    Last edited by Iride; Mar. 31, 2011, 01:57 AM.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

  • #2
    I've known several horses that lived for many, many years on soaked pellets. I'd go with a blend and not straight alfalfa. I prefer pellets to cubes because they take less time to get soft, but either will do nicely. I also used to steam COB mix for my old mare so that she got a little grain.

    Comment


    • #3
      Also look into soaked beet pulp. It's a great source of roughage for older horses that have teeth issues.
      "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions." David Hume

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks fourmares... I agree I should go with a blend of alfalfa and timothy as opposed to straight alfalfa. Is there such a thing as timothy/alfalfa pellets for horses (not rabbits lol)? Or do I have to buy bags of each and mix them to get a blend? (I know Triple Crown makes a blend, in the cubes...)
        "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

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        • #5
          I feed my 22 year old stallion soaked alf. cubes and soaked timothy pellets. I give him a mixture to balance his diet a bit more as all alfalfa is not the best for him. He's doing fantastic on it.

          I have given beet pulp and rice bran also. Both work fine.

          The pellets are bit easier than the cubes in the length of fiber but the best thing is get as much fiber in them as possible...so if your horse can eat the cubes, that's what I'd recommend feeding him. I think Tractor Supply sometimes has timothy/alfalfa cubes. That is where I get my timothy pellets.

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          • #6
            I'm sure it happens but I have never seen an older horse choke from quidding. Chewing on that hay sure gives them something to do all day. It would be tough to take that part of being a horse away from them. (like taking the car keys from an older person!) I know the good equine dentists around here are all for letting them keep the hay and then adding soaked pellets. Certainly understand your concern. Of course most of the nutrition will come from the pellets. Yes, there are bags of mixed hay/alfalfa. Sure it depends on what part of the country you are in.

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            • #7
              You need to provide at least 1% of his body weight in coarse fiber. Coarse fiber is at least an 1" in length. Hay pellets do not met this requirement. Hay cubes do.

              Some nutritionist consider beet pulp as a hay sub. I do not and consider it a hay stretcher.

              So yes if his body weight is good and you do not need the TDN adding timothy pellets is fine ans long as you are still feeding the 1% of his body weight in cubes.

              If you are feeding him enough of the cubes it takes a long time for them to eat, so do not feel bad as a choke is not a good thing.

              My TSC carries alf/timothy cubes too as does most the local mills.

              I cook an whole oat base sweet feed for my old seniors in the crock pot. The oats plump up and gel. And the hulls soak up a lot of water. I pour this over soaked hay cubes and wheat bran. Add a cup of oil and it is "senior delight". Very tasty easy to eat!

              I have also had some very ancient horses that I had to take of hay cubes. I mean really old. And had to put them on 100% senior pellet type ration. These horses were in the last few month of their lives and could not even consume the cubes. But it does not sound like your horse is anywhere near there!

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              • #8
                These sound good. Has anyone tried them?

                http://www.blueseal.com/equine/produ...yStretcher.pdf

                I wonder if the fiber length would be longer than in a traditional pellet.

                I have been soaking hay for my 27 year old gelding who recently had two molars pulled. He is still fussy and not eating the hay well so I started chopping it with a blower/vacuum/shredder and he eats some but is still fussy about it. I might try chopping it twice to get it finer. He is such a hay snob anyway he may just not like the hay in general--it is a grass/alfalfa mix.

                Vet/dentists says it takes a while to heal--it has been a month! The grass is coming up in his pasture though so that helps!

                I wondered if these hay stretcher pellets might be a bit better than straight alfalfa pellets. They do have plenty of alfalfa in them.

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                • #9
                  My 28 year old mare has been living on senior pellets, soaked alfalfa/timothy cubes and beet pulp shreds since last winter. She can no longer chew hay and now grass is becoming a problem for her. She has done very well on this over this past winter, however I will probably be switching to soaked beet pulp pellets instead of the shreds. I don't worry about her not having hay since she is turned out in a large pasture with her buddies all day where she can quid grass or hay to her heart's content.
                  "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."

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    It sounds like soaked timothy-alfalfa cubes and soaked timothy pellets are the way to go.

                    Re quidding rarely causing choke- I didn't realize that. I have heard that it can, from various vets. ??

                    However, what about colic - if the horse swallows any of the wadded up balls of hay (most get spit out but probably not all) then we are looking at the potential for colic due to obstruction caused by undigested hay in the intestine... right? It only takes one time to say 'I shoulda removed the hay.' But yes, I do hate taking it away from him as he does try to eat it. I couldn't sleep last night worrying about it!

                    Re the cubes I'll be getting the Triple Crown timothy/alfalfa ones. Any recommendations for the timothy pellets? Is it true that the binders in these products tend to cause ulcers?
                    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      As far as causing colic, I think it is speculation. Could it, I guess maybe so, but so could not having hay in front of him to keep his mind busy as a horse.

                      It's a tough choice to decide what the best thing to do is for our horses are as they get older, Good luck!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        For those of you who feed soaked alfalfa cubes, how do you keep it from freezing in the stall overnight in the dead of winter? I thought about a heated bucket, but won't it start to ferment?

                        And, by the way, TC Senior is a complete feed. You can feed up to 20 lbs per day, no more than 5 lbs at a feed, separate feeds by at least 4-5 hours.

                        I feed morning, early evening, and when someone needs it, a 10-11pm meal in addition in the winter.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                          For those of you who feed soaked alfalfa cubes, how do you keep it from freezing in the stall overnight in the dead of winter? I thought about a heated bucket, but won't it start to ferment?

                          And, by the way, TC Senior is a complete feed. You can feed up to 20 lbs per day, no more than 5 lbs at a feed, separate feeds by at least 4-5 hours.

                          I feed morning, early evening, and when someone needs it, a 10-11pm meal in addition in the winter.
                          Soaking the cubes until they fall apart takes at least 20 minutes, they don't have to be soaked overnight. I prepare the bucket the night before and since my husband gets up before I do he fills the bucket with warm water while he is making his coffee. By the time I get up, 30 minutes to an hour later, the alfalfa cubes and beep are ready for feeding (and practically overflowing the bucket cuz they swell up) Using warm water seems to accelerate the process. For the evening feeding I prepare the bucket and start it soaking before I start on barn/feeding chores. By the time I'm ready to let the horses in for their evening feed it is ready. It just takes a little planning and you might have to rearrange the order in which you do certain things but I've worked it out.

                          ETA: Being in central Georgia I don't have much problem with freezing but fermentation can be a real issue.
                          "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."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Actually, I have no trouble the how to's of soaking. I keep the cubes in the garage and soak let them start soaking when I first get up or before I go out to feed at night, using warm water. My question is, once they are soaked (and I check to make sure there are no little chunks left), and once you put the soaked cubes in the stall, how do you keep it from freezing overnight, if the purpose is to give them something to chew on all night long?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                              Actually, I have no trouble the how to's of soaking. I keep the cubes in the garage and soak let them start soaking when I first get up or before I go out to feed at night, using warm water. My question is, once they are soaked (and I check to make sure there are no little chunks left), and once you put the soaked cubes in the stall, how do you keep it from freezing overnight, if the purpose is to give them something to chew on all night long?
                              LOL! My mare doesn't leave them that long...they are gone in a hour...two at the most then she has to wait until breakfast for more. She does have access to a grassy paddock though.
                              "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."

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Personally, I don't like alfalfa cubes. IME, they take a lot longer than 30 minutes to soak to the point that they are soft enough for my old guy to eat. He is prone to choke so everything he gets is soaked. Since I have a short time frame for feeding, I use a chopped alfalfa hay mixed about half and half with beet pulp along with Patriot Senior pellets. All my old guys have done well with this mixture. The chopped hay comes in 50# plastic bags from my local feed store.
                                I'm a second hand Vegan. Cows eat grass. I eat cows.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I was very happy with the results of feeding wet Alfalfa and Timothy hay cubes to my old horse. She had reached the stage where she also was quidding a lot, but she spit out the wads when the taste was gone. Did this on nice hay, some grass. She never choked. Gross-out factor came when the other horses would EAT those wads!! Even frozen, the other horses would hunt for the wads to eat going thru her paddock to the field.

                                  I had been feeding her a Senior feed with wet beet pulp and small amount of plain grain, which was fine for a long time. Then a discussion here in COTH introduced the wet cube feeding to provide fiber roughage needed in digestive system, for a "tickle factor" as it moved along going thru the animal. Sounded quite reasonable to me, not an idea I had considered before. Sure wouldn't hurt anything! So I got some cubes and introduced them to my horse. With cut lengths so short, I figured wet mush of cubes couldn't choke her, even if she didn't chew them.

                                  The straight Alfalfa cubes wet, were too rich, gave her the runs. Had normal poop with the AT cubes, and she ate them fine. She got everything mixed, about 4 gallons each serving. Did take her a while to work thru it, but I was home to turn her out when she finished.

                                  She was a smaller horse, got a serving morning and night, with turnout daily to nibble in a very grassy paddock by herself. No big horses bugging her!

                                  Have to say that adding the AT cubes to feed really improved her looks, which I hadn't thought were too bad before. Just more shine, and she did like the cube addition to her feed. No issues of choke, with everything very wet to feed. Warm water did speed up the softening, she liked that in winter even more. With my other horses, I would just dump any leftovers in their feed tubs to prevent fermenting problems. They thought it was a TREAT! She was quite good about eating almost everything each day, but she had always been a good eater. We kept her weight trim, not ever fat, which is hard on old legs and old horses getting around. Called it "racehorse fit" with a shadow of ribs showing. Wanted her willing to move around, easy to do carrying less weight. She had no major leg issues, sound, but why push it with extra weight above?

                                  I do think adding the AT cubes to her feed regimen was useful and helpful in keeping her healthy and nice looking until the end, which was 35+ years. Never coliced in her life. She was a working girl until age 33yrs, with this diet, carrying the small daughter around the farm.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                                    For those of you who feed soaked alfalfa cubes, how do you keep it from freezing in the stall overnight in the dead of winter? I thought about a heated bucket, but won't it start to ferment?

                                    And, by the way, TC Senior is a complete feed. You can feed up to 20 lbs per day, no more than 5 lbs at a feed, separate feeds by at least 4-5 hours.

                                    I feed morning, early evening, and when someone needs it, a 10-11pm meal in addition in the winter.
                                    My old horses always had access to the main barn and tho very cold here in the winter I had little issue with the soaked cubes and feed freezing. I added tap hot water to the cubes and soaked them soft. This would take up to 45 minutes and then pour the very hot crock pot delight in. That warmed it up considerably. Then straight to the barn and fed it out. Feed uneated within a couple hrs would be cold but still not frozen. Rarely afew mouthfuls here and there would get frozen but not a lot by any means. They just were mixed in with the next batch. I fed this 3 X daily in winter but only 2X in summer. The extra feeding pretty much solves the freezing issue. Plus if you want access to "hay" over night and are worried about wet food freezing that would be the time to use pellets of your horse can chew them dry without choking.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      My old guy has no opposing molars (not sure if he actually HAS any molars any more) and has been eating pails of mush for several years now. He still gets a flake or two of straight, dairy alfalfa with all the little leafy bits and loves to sort through it to pick out the stuff he can swallow whole. He will quid the stemmy parts if they appeal to him, but seems to spit them back out after he's sucked on them long enough. He's like a cow with a cud... He won't eat alfalfa cubes or pellets and is picky about the brand of senior feed. He definitely has a history of choke, but has never choked on anything hay-like; he has choked on inadequately soaked Purina Senior more than once. My guess is that he doesn't choke on the hay quids because they're too big to swallow. The semi-mush goes down but then gets stuck.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Thanks for all the stories, keep them coming. All helpful to hear, and interesting.
                                        "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

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