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Alfalfa cubes -- dry or soaked?

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  • Alfalfa cubes -- dry or soaked?

    I am going to start giving my older horse, King, alfalfa cubes to help him get through the nights this winter. He used to get them when he was younger and in work, but then I lost my supplier and, King retired and ... well ... now I think he needs the supplementation again (he is coming 31 this winter).

    Question is -- should I soak them? I didn't when I gave them before. He loved them, and would eat them very slowly -- I used to say he would chew them like an old man chews tobacco. But, he's seven years older now, so I wonder if I should soak them for him now (sidebar: he HATES anything soaked and/or soupey, turns his nose up at any kind of mash and won't touch soaked beet pulp).

    If the cubes should be soaked, any suggestions about how long to soak them?

    Also, King has never choked, he does not gobble or bolt his food, and he honestly never over-eats. He will walk away from food when he has had enough. Never been over or under-weight, never foundered. He has the most perfect appetite of any horse I've known.

  • #2
    Her Royal Highness, aka my soon to be 33 yo mare, never cared for mashes either. However she loves her soaked alfalfa cubes!!! We started feeding them about 3 years ago.

    Soak for at least 10-15 minutes to soften the cubes. This will help to keep his older teeth and mouth from getting sore.
    Another point is I use the soaked cubes as one more way to get water in her during the winter. Something to keep in mind as older horses 'often' don't drink as well as they once did.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim


    • #3
      I soak them for 30 minutes in warm water and then drain them.

      That may somewhat defeat your purpose since it's also depleting it of some of the nutrients, but it's warm, moist but not soupy, and my horses love it. Maybe start there and see if your guy develops a taste for it. Then he might be more inclined to continue eating it with a little more water left in.

      I hope King has a good winter. You must have taken very good care of him.


      • #4
        I'd be cautious of feeding dry cubes to a horse for concern that they might choke.

        If alfalfa hay is available I'd go with that first, as long as the horses teeth are in good enough shape.

        Other wise I'd soak the cubes, or feed alfalfa pellets which I do feed dry.

        But a horse might likely hoover down all the alfalfa pellets quickly, so that might not result in the intended effect, if the idea is to give the horse something to munch on for a long while.

        Then there's Dengie chopped alfalfa with or without molasses, and there are similar chopped hay products by other manufactures too. Lots of people feed Dengie hay dry or soaked.


        • #5
          I soak in hot water for 15-30 minutes. I would be afraid to feed dry because of choke. I have a pasta strainer that I can use to drain the excess water out of the bucket.


          • Original Poster

            I'm going to try soaking them and see if he will eat them. That makes the most sense. I'll let you know how it goes.

            Thanks for the good wishes, I hope King has a good winter, too. He is a very special guy, much loved. He is now teaching the granddaughter to ride, and she adores him. We are not ready to let him go yet!


            • #7
              I fed my 43 yr old horse soaked alfalfa cubes. I filled a large strongid bucket 1/2 way and then added hot water from the tap untll it covered the cubes by about an inch above them. Wait about 20 mins. Do not strain you will be getting rid of nutrients in the water and a bit more water is always a good thing.

              He did great on these and had only about 5 teeth in his head. He also ate soaked eq Sr.

              Good luck.


              • #8
                You could use a small amount of hot water to soften them, but not enough to turn them into mush. Soak 15 minutes or so. You could also add some oil if he needs the calories. And oil wouldn't freeze.

                If you're concerned about water intake, add a tablespoon of loose salt. Very cheap, and gets them drinking.


                • #9
                  PLEASE soak the hay cubes! It doesn't have to be for long, but you CAN loose a horse to them if the cubes are not properly soaked.

                  We switched to alfalfa pellets after a near miss when some one fed for us and did not properly soak the cubes ... in spite of detailed emphatic instructions to soak the cubes.
                  The other female in my husband's life has four legs


                  • #10
                    I was at a barn for 10+ years where all the horses (20+ stalls) were fed unsoaked cubes two or three times a day. Never saw or heard of a single choke. The only horse fed soaked cubes was one with teeth issues.

                    At 30/31, teeth are probably a concern, so I'm with the others saying soak. I wouldn't for the average horse, but at his age better to soak than risk that his teeth can't manage the cubes properly.


                    • #11
                      The ONE time I fed a "test" handful of dry cubes to my horses to see if they could eat them okay, my 1/2 Arab promptly choked on one. *sigh*

                      I'm just lucky that way, I guess. But because of that, I will never ever feed dry cubes OR dry pellets (my old STB choked on pellets during my "test run," too) because by now I am just paranoid.


                      • #12
                        I fed a horse dry alfalfa cubes, that is his hay, that is all he gets besides his beet mush. He drinks well since he always has two buckets of clean, fresh water, and he doesn't bolt his cubes as they are fed in one of those Amazing Graze toys, to keep him busy and makes him "graze" his stall.

                        I don't worry about him choking, as he is not one to bolt his food.


                        • #13
                          Soaked is better. That said, our 23 year old loves dry alfalfa cubes and won't touch them if they are wet. I even tried a heated bucket in case the cold water was the problem. He does like Dengie and will eat Equine Senior and the beet pulp based Omolene 400.


                          • #14
                            I soak my cubes for Mr Man and Co for about 10-15 min, drain the liquid. One suggestion- they make alfalfa pellets too, I believe....if he really dislikes the soaked cubes.
                            Come to the dark side, we have cookies


                            • #15
                              The cubes are equivalent to long stem forage, the same as hay, but the pellets are not as the hay pieces are much more finely chopped.

                              I feed cubes soaked as well and I find that hot water will soften them up within a very few minutes. I add some water, wait for a couple of minutes, break up the large cubes then add more hot water.

                              I find I can add a quart or more of fluid this way for each horse and I only feed about 1/2 lb cubes between two horses.

                              My two easy keepers adore their mash and will come galloping from the pasture for it.


                              • #16
                                My 28 year old mare loves her soaked alfalfa/timothy cubes and beet pulp pellets. She gets a full bucket of soaked mush twice a day. I top it with her senior pellets and alfalfa pellets. She has gained weight and looks fantastic.

                                I would NEVER serve alfalfa cubes dry.
                                "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."


                                • #17
                                  I have fed them dry but only to horses that eat slowly and were not prone to choke.

                                  However, having now seen a horse go through a serious choke episode, I'm not sure I'd risk it. I think you can soak them until the soften rather than making them mushy.

                                  If you add warm water you can soften them up in 10-15 minutes. Some cubes are harder than others so soaking time will depend on your brand.

                                  I often feed cubes that are 50/50 timothy/alfalfa and in they are more crumbly.
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                                  • #18
                                    I'm going to be feeding alfalfa cubes to the elder pony this winter in addition to his senior mush. I plan to give him a bucket at night check. Is there anyway to keep what he doesn't eat right away from freezing? Maybe a bucket cozy?


                                    • #19
                                      The only way I ever feed them dry is if we break them apart by hand into teeny-tiny flakes o'compressed alfalfa.

                                      Otherwise, they're soaked with warm water.
                                      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                                      • #20
                                        I was feeding soaked alfalfa cubes to my 30 yr old gelding. I would put the cubes in a bucket with water in the am for the pm feeding and so on. So, they would soak all day and then the next batch would soak overnight (indoors).

                                        I stopped the other day as he's been having watery stools (formed stool with watery) so my vet suggested stopping the cubes to see if they were the culprit. So far after 4 days the stools appear to be normal. I guess we'll go back to beet pulp for him instead. Too bad as he really enjoyed his soaked cubes!