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Alfalfa for boarding barn?

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  • Alfalfa for boarding barn?

    I'm moving my horse to a boarding facility soon, but I'm also trying to tackle his unthriftiness, a little bit of rain rot and cribbing. I'd have him scoped to be sure of a diagnosis of ulcers, but the biggest equine practice in town doesn't have a long enough scope.

    His current diet is Strategy (that's what he came in on) and unlimited grass Hay. I just added 1 flake of alfalfa per feeding.

    The new barn feeds oats, corn, and grass hay, though they will feed anything "special" that the horse requires.

    Obviously it would be best for me $$ wise to use the barn's feeding protocol as best I can, and I'm totally pro whole foods for horses. I'd like to keep adding the alfalfa though, to see if that helps his tummy. Would you try pellets? Are they "as good" for tummies as actual alfalfa hay? I don't think I can provide enough real alfalfa hay.

    What about adding a high fat source? I know in humans that can ameliorate some tummy troubles.

    Eek! So many options!

  • #2
    Alfalfa pellets can replace alfalfa hay pound for pound - so if you wanted to give him a flake that weighs 5lbs, you can give 5 lbs of alfalfa pellets for the same effect.

    If you're suspecting stomach issues, I'd probably drop the Strategy for a lower NSC feed. Oats and corn are both rather high in NSCs (corn being very high).

    I've never heard of additional fat in the diet treating stomach issues in horses.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


    • #3
      I agree with the alfalfa pellets.. Feed pound to pound.. Be careful of the amount of corn he gets, it is a recipe for disaster! I had a horse boarded and they went from a complete feed to whole corn.. I yanked him out of there so fast.. I didn't want a foundered horse!


      • #4
        I would avoid the corn.

        And yes, like others have said - go for the alfalfa pellets! Easy to feed, will add protein and calcium.
        APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


        • #5
          A client wants her horse getting 4 lbs of alfalfa a day, but I also only feed grass hay. We decided to feed hay cubes rather than the pellets. We got ones without a binding agent (100% hay).

          If pellets and hay cubes are both options for you, I would ask the BM which they prefer. Cubes are a bit more of a pain to scoop/weigh, but I like that they take her longer to eat.
          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


          • #6
            You could also try chopped alfalfa forage, which I find is sometimes more palatable.


            • #7
              Alfalfa is hard to find in my area except..... in the fancy pet stores, where you can find 20-40lb plastic bags of organically raised dried alfalfa, marketed for rabbits, etc. Is there any reason I couldn't feed this to my horse, as a treat? Obviously it doesn't make sense for routine feeding, but for putting into a bedtime warm mash, or for tucking into her haynet for trailer rides... ? The bag says it contains nothing but dried alfalfa.


              • #8
                PSA, if you ue alf pellets, be sure to soak or at least moisten them well. Dry alf pellets = high probability horse will choke. (BTDT, got the Vet bill, because I did not know that ahead of time)
                Last edited by sdlbredfan; Dec. 28, 2013, 12:05 AM. Reason: typo
                RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                • #9
                  If you can, use the alfalfa cubes instead of the pellets. Cubes = long stem forage so pretty much as good as it gets. Pellets are too short/minced too finely to have those kinds of benefits.


                  • Original Poster

                    Hmmm...he won't eat wet food - I've never wetted pellets. Do they really have to be wetted?

                    What about that bagged stuff that is meant for rabbits?


                    • #11
                      The bagged alfalfa pellets for rabbits and other animals often have filler ingredients, including animal fat with nasty preservatives. Just make sure you check the labels first.
                      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                      • #12
                        Been feeding alf pellets for a while... No one has choked yet.

                        I'd not feed corn to anything with suspect ulcers .
                        COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                        "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


                        • #13
                          If you can add either alfalfa hay or pellets to manage suspected ulcers then also eliminate as much (all) grain as you can. Ditto the "no corn". A small amount of oats if you have to give some grain but you may find with the addition of alfalfa those calories are enough to eliminate the grain.


                          • #14
                            Treating the ulcers will do more than any change in feed to help your horse. I agree with the other posters that the oats/corn choice is not the best. If he does not start gaining weight after treating the ulcers, look at options such as senior feed, which is very palatable, easy to digest and puts weight on fast.
                            Man plans. God laughs.


                            • #15
                              We have never wetted our alfalfa pellets.. You can get them at TSC, but I don't like them because the pellets are very big.. Our local mill carries and they are a lot finer.. My horse does well on them. He is in work 6 days a week till show season..


                              • Original Poster

                                I'm doing that too, Flash. Sorry, I didn't mention that. He is a wicked cribber and apparently has been his whole life, so I'm working on diet too. He'll crib on metal and wear it smooth. I'm kind of attacking this on all fronts.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by sdlbredfan View Post
                                  PSA, if you ue alf pellets, be sure to soak or at least moisten them well. Dry alf pellets = high probability horse will choke. (BTDT, got the Vet bill, because I did not know that ahead of time)
                                  IME, it's WORSE to "moisten them well." Just wetting them without adding enough water to break them down and giving them enough time to do so just makes them swell into little sponges, which is just perfect for choking.

                                  My preference is to soak them into mash, but if I just couldn't do that and had to feed them, I'd feed them DRY, with some oil, and only to a horse that doesn't bolt their feed. My absolute last option would be to feed them just wet but not broken down.

                                  In this situation, I'd prefer to feed cubes.

                                  I'm very grateful that the barn owners buy a grass alfalfa mix high in alfalfa specifically for my horses. They do very well on it, but trying to bring in some alfalfa if it's not on the barns "menu" is a PITA.

                                  OGP, how about something like this for your horse? He'll be occupied (and not cribbing) and it should dispense slow enough that choke should not be a concern. Here's another version.


                                  • #18
                                    I suspected Finnegan had ulcers as he tends to be an anxious hourse. Scoping was not in the budget. I had him on a maintenance dose of pop rocks for a few months and Standlee alfalfa pellets. He gets grass hay and a RB from SmartPak. Even though he was in more work this summer than the previous summer he gained weight and looks really good.

                                    I eventually eliminated the grain and the pop rocks and a few months later he still looks great. We actually had to cut back his hay in the stall.

                                    He eats the alfalfa pellets pretty slowly, especially now there isn't grain mixed in, so I don't have a concern with choke. If you do worry about choke and he won't eat them wet, I would see if they could put grain in one bucket and alfalfa pellets in another. I have also known people to put big rocks or a couple of bricks in the feed bin to slow down a horse that bolts his food.

                                    We had a previous boarder that would get straight alfalfa bales. They were the heavy double compressed ones and she would bring over two bales at a time and the barn would give he a flake at each feeding. It can be doable but really depends on the storage and barn set up.

                                    I realize that the cubes are probably better than the pellets but I did not want to make the barn staff soak cubes.
                                    Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                                    • #19
                                      Another vote for alfalfa pellets and dropping all corn out of the diet.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        He doesn't currently get corn except for whatever is in the strategy. That's just what the barn feeds :-)

                                        He won't eat wetted cubes. I tried that when we were going through a minor hay shortage. He also won't eat beet pulp. I think he'll be fine with pellets because he is a very slow eater. I'd have to worry if it were any of my other horses!

                                        Thanks everyone!!!