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alfalfa and hoof quality

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  • alfalfa and hoof quality

    My shoer who I am very happy with has asked me to cut back on the alfalfa on my 17 year old OTTB who has "crappy feet" (I am ok with that term).

    It is hard to keep weight on so I give him half alfalfa/half grass at night. He get grass hay in the morning when turned out all day with three geldings.

    He gets nutrena senior and corn oil (amount depending on the weather) and farriers formula double strength.

    his weight has stayed very stable through the winter.

    I had never heard of alfalfa have hoof repercussion.

    any comments?
    A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton

  • #2
    Hum, I feed alfalfa, and while my horse’s horn quality is excellent, she has always been prone to an odd yeasty thrush.

    Anyway, I have not heard of poor feet and alfalfa. The excess protein in alalfa can cause them to urinate more, which is not good if they are stalled and standing in it.

    Googled a little, and all I could find was some references to an UK study which said:

    Research published in the Vet Record (1987) demonstrated that alfalfa increases the quality and quantity of horn growth which was attributed to the highly available calcium and essential amino acids found naturally in alfalfa.

    I know alfalfa generally has a now NSC level.
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    • #3
      I would ask what degree your farrier has in equine nutrition. Alfalfa fed half and half with grass hay is the perfect mix! Some grass hay can have a higher sugar content than alfalfa..... Insulin resistant horses are often recommended alfalfa by vets to help improve hooves

      Did he say your horse had wall separation? Thin walls? what?

      I would get a second opinion on the work this guy is doing because more often than not, the farrier work is a high contributor to crappy hooves-along with feed, work, environment.


      • #4
        So is your farrier a nutritionist as well...Alfalfa is high in protein is better with calories and has great calcium to phosphorous balanced for bones...my horse 28 due exceptionally well when feed alfalfa.....doubt it has anything to do with thrush either...you horse genetically is pre disposed to crappy feet and doubt if any supplement or topically applied voodoo at his age is going to help him. I am a real stickler for good feet selling OTTB you gotta be careful with feet....


        • #5
          Instead of blaming the alfalfa, make sure everything is balanced as it should be. You'd be surprised at what you're missing/have too much of when you take a good look at the diet, and what exactly you are feeding! My mares hooves have improved immensely since I went on FeedXl and fiddled with all her feed...I don't have tested hay, either, and I still saw a huge difference!
          "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."


          • #6
            does he have prior experience with other horses that this has worked with? seems like alfalfa would help, not hinder, "crappy feet".
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            • #7
              Originally posted by melhorse View Post
              Insulin resistant horses are often recommended alfalfa by vets to help improve hooves.
              Um. According to Dr. Kellon's Equine Cushings & Insulin Resistance group, alfalfa can cause many IR/Cushings horses to be very foot-sore and is NOT recommended for horses with these conditions.

              Don't mean to hijack the thread, just thought that was important to point out.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Frizzle View Post
                Um. According to Dr. Kellon's Equine Cushings & Insulin Resistance group, alfalfa can cause many IR/Cushings horses to be very foot-sore and is NOT recommended for horses with these conditions.

                Don't mean to hijack the thread, just thought that was important to point out.
                Correct, some metabolically challenged horses have a hard time with alfalfa hay and might be why your farrier might contribute it to bad feet. Who knows.


                • #9
                  Your farrier might not be wrong, but he might not be right either.

                  Here's what I would do if you handed me this horse and said "do something"

                  I'd get him on TC Sr instead of Nutrena Sr - lower sugars, higher quality ingredients.

                  I'd drop the corn oil - sky high in pro-inflammatory Omega 6 which horses just do not need added to their diet. I'd use the TC Sr alone for a few weeks and see where the horse went with that.

                  If I ended up feeding, say, 6lb of that, and he was ok but not great, I'd add rice bran, maybe 1lb.

                  Then assuming weight was good, I'd let that settle for 6 months or so and see what the new hoof growth looked like.
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET