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Toothless horse: any suggestions how to separate leaves from stemmy alfalfa?

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  • Toothless horse: any suggestions how to separate leaves from stemmy alfalfa?

    Our older horse has lost weight due to bad dental situation (ok, he's not 'toothless' per se but his molars are flat), and he can no longer chew hay or grass... we are finding lots of ways to get food (Senior, chopped hay) into him and I recently bought a bale of that Standlee compressed premium alfalfa because it has A LOT of leafy, powdery matter which this horse can (and LOVES to) eat.

    But the hay ALSO has tons of stems, so I'm looking for ways to shake out the soft leafy material, in an efficient manner.

    1. I tried putting it in a haynet and shaking - too many stems still shake out.

    2. Tried putting it in a big plastic bag with a small hole at the bottom, and shaking it. Better, but still not perfect (I'd stick with this if I don't find a better solution).

    Ideas?
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

  • #2
    ... soaked cubes

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      He gets some.

      I'm looking for ideas on how to shake out soft matter from alfalfa.
      "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm facing a similar dilemma. So I've been searching for methods on the internet, and came up with a study on using alfalfa stems for fuel. In the article, the scientific method included the following:

        "METHODOLOGY
        Samples from eleven randomly-selected harvest lots of alfalfa hay from each of first, second, and third cuttings were subjected to a leaf-stem separation process. Hay bales from each lot were sampled with a coring tool (50.8 mm diam) designed to sample baled wool. For each harvest lot, a hay sample was divided into two equal fractions with a riffle-splitter. One fraction was leaf-screened once with a Number 32 sieve (12.7 mm diam) and then twice again with a Number 12 (3.2 mm diam) to separate leaves from stems. "

        So now I'm trying to figure out if screening would be cost/time effective.

        Checkout out this contraption for ideas (not that I'd buy it, but its along the line I was thinking -- some way to shake out the leaves by screening into a wheelbarrow or tub: http://brockwoodfarm.com/).
        Nothing with horses is ever easy or cheap. And if it is, you're doing it wrong. They always rip out part of your soul when they leave. I guess that's how they find us later.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Twelvegates, exactly what I want - something with 'just' the right size screen (openings) so that it would work. Since the haynet didn't work great, I've been wondering if there's another kind of netting out there with MUCH smaller holes... thought I'd go to Home Depot to look around, or maybe mosquito netting? No, those holes would be TOO small, right? I feel like there's something obvious out there that I'm not thinking of!!
          "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

          Comment


          • #6
            Hmmmm --

            Now I'm checking out sifters:

            http://www.manytracks.com/Garden/SoilSifters.htm

            http://www.nifty-stuff.com/compost-s...reen-sieve.php
            Nothing with horses is ever easy or cheap. And if it is, you're doing it wrong. They always rip out part of your soul when they leave. I guess that's how they find us later.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by twelvegates View Post
              Oooh, the 2nd link, 2nd pic with the pvc chicken netting ! Got to check out pvc chicken netting......looks like a good hole size? (the other one was way too small)
              "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

              Comment


              • #8
                Yeah -- I agree.

                I'll get the "engineer/loves to build contraptions" spouse to take a look at it and see what he can devise!
                Nothing with horses is ever easy or cheap. And if it is, you're doing it wrong. They always rip out part of your soul when they leave. I guess that's how they find us later.

                Comment


                • #9
                  We fed our toothless old guy soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets for 7 years after he choked on hay. Choke is no fun for anybody. I wouldn't even attempt to feed him hay. Ours lived quite well on his mush with a small amount of additional grain. He was 37 when we had to put him down due to an unrelated accident. He would quid some grass but appeared quite happy with his feed situation.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Try hardware cloth....it is metal screening used for things like rabbit cages. A square of it on a frame over a wheel barrow and just rub the alfalfa on the cloth...might do it. Lots of work though and doesn't give the fiber that the stems have that he actually needs for hindgut function. I'd go with soaked cubes...longest length stem sections are about 1-1.5 inches and it is easy enough to use. Friends older pony lived very well on soaked cubes and some senior feed for about 6-7 years and was completely toothless.
                    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                    www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
                    Northern NV

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by twelvegates View Post
                      Yeah -- I agree.

                      I'll get the "engineer/loves to build contraptions" spouse to take a look at it and see what he can devise!
                      You're lucky you have one of those
                      "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by coloredcowhorse View Post
                        Try hardware cloth....it is metal screening used for things like rabbit cages. A square of it on a frame over a wheel barrow and just rub the alfalfa on the cloth...might do it. Lots of work though and doesn't give the fiber that the stems have that he actually needs for hindgut function. I'd go with soaked cubes...longest length stem sections are about 1-1.5 inches and it is easy enough to use. Friends older pony lived very well on soaked cubes and some senior feed for about 6-7 years and was completely toothless.
                        Yeah, I realize this and he does get some cubes - though he doesn't really like them, and I have to resort to soaking them with apple juice or molasses for him to even look at it. He really doesn't like any sort of wet food unless it's bran mash. Tried beet pulp and he literally ran to the back of his stall and glared at us like we were evil.
                        "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I use a leaf shreader/blower to chop up hay and even to chop "chopped" hay again for my older guy. I put it in a big dish and he noses through it and picks out what he wants.

                          He also gets soaked alfalfa cubes and soaked hay stretcher pellets. He had lost some weight earlier this year when he started having trouble (he had two molars pulled) Now he needs to go on a diet!

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            I've considered leaf shredders, even went and tried one that was on Craigslist but it only chops to 4 inches in length. Would have to run through again, and was kinda messy. Decided I would stick with the TNT chops or Lucerne dengie, even though at 1 1/2 inches in fiber length, I wish I could get it even smaller.

                            Hmm.... I wonder if I could put soaked cubes or dry dengie in a blender?
                            "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Iride View Post
                              Hmm.... I wonder if I could put soaked cubes or dry dengie in a blender?
                              Your life would end as you know it. Blending is all you'd get done for the day. If you decide to go that route, you might try the paint mixer attachment for a power drill. At least then you could prepare a reasonable amount of food at a time.

                              My BO has talked about sifting alfalfa leaves for his mare. He used a large-mesh screen, mounted on a frame. He said it took him a couple hours a day. Whether that's an exaggeration or not, I don't know.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Home made stainer might do the trick. I am thinking a screen, plastic, perhaps from the lawn & garden section that is open 1/4" by 1/4", it comes in a roll, I think in black. Get some 1" x 2" boards and frame the screen. Place your framed stainer over a muck tub and let the loose hay fall through.... leaving the stems in the stainer.

                                Let me know if you do this and it works....

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Thanks HealingHeart, I am looking into this
                                  "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

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