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Alfalfa VS Timothy

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  • Alfalfa VS Timothy

    I have hunter/jumpers who I normally feed straight Timothy. But have recently added Alfalfa to their diets since I have heard such great things about it. I also have 4 easy keeper and one harder keeper (stays fat but has to be fed a little more than the ponies). What are the pros and cons of feeding alfalfa vs. timothy. I like the fact alf buffers acid and is very nutritious but they dont get to eat much hay at dinner when there stalled. I suppose I could do hay nets, that would slow them down a bit. Anyways let me know your opinions. TIA.

  • #2
    Alfalfa and easy keepers don't belong together.

    Fat is not a harder keeper

    The benefits of alfalfa - lysine, magnesium, calcium - can be had in a low- to no-calorie form. Additional amino acids, or a vit/min supplement, or a ration balancer, or some combination.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

    Comment


    • #3
      Legumes (Alfalfa is a legume) contain a lot of good things that grass (Timothy is a grass) don't.

      If horses spend a lot of time in stalls, however, I suppose they can get too much of a good thing or get too fat from legume hay.

      I like legumes such as clovers in my pastures. Legumes are great nutrition but my horses are turned out 24/7 and "too fat" is not a problem.
      "It’s a well-documented fact that of all the animals in the realm of agriculture, Bulls have the highest job satisfaction rate."~~Ree Drummond, AKA the Pioneer Woman

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      • #4
        Not to hijack, but a question for JB & others: Is there a supplement anyone can suggest that does contain magnesium, calcium & lysine in a balance for when alfalfa is not a possibility? That might be a good alternative for my horses in summer, when keeping alfalfa in this humid climate is not possible...and they don't really want/need hay because they are on good pasture at that time.

        Comment


        • #5
          For lysine - either straight lysine (cheap!!!) or Tri-Amino (uckele) for lysine, methionine (both often deficient in grass) and threonine.

          For Mg/ca - ration balancer (in which case you likely don't need the lysine/tri-amino) or a vit/min supplement. Or, if you need MORE Mg, you can get MagOx, or some form of magnesium.
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

          Comment


          • #6
            Some timothy hay grown in new seeding, will have varying amounts of alfalfa in it as it is seeded with the alfalfa. As time goes by the alfalfa dies back and only the timothy and an occasional bit of alfalfa emains. So it does depend on the amount of alfalfa, you may see.

            This is where testing is useful.
            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks guys...I think I am going to still give the alf and tim, and not give as much to the easy keepers.

              Comment


              • #8
                There is quite a difference

                Timothy:- grass hay generally 10-15% protein (depending on when it was cut and baled), NSC 8-18% again depending on when it was cut and baled. Can be low in essential amino-acids, but generally good level of fiber and if well preserved good vitamins. Minerals levels depend on the soil it was grown in.


                Alfalfa:- legume, much higher in protein, but not very high quality protein, so a lot gets wasted and comes out as urine. AS the plant has a deep taproot, it is usually higher in minerals, most especially the cations Mg and Ca, again this depends on what was in the soil it grew in. Sugar content will depend on age of plant at time of cutting and baling as in how much leaf and how much stem.

                As a general rule, some alfalfa is nice to increase protein and calcium intake BUT too much alfalfa will increase urine output and can make the horse 'high' or aggressive. I usually recommend that only 20% of the hay ration be fed as alfalfa, that is 1 flake in 5 is alfalfa and 4 flakes are grass hay.

                YMMV
                Yours
                MW
                Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                New edition of book is out:
                Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  I know it's probably been discussed before already, but where does alfalfa pellets fall in this discussion.

                  Would you add a few cupfulls of alfalfa pellets for horses in low-medium work that are already in good bodyconditions.

                  I never ever considered alfalfa in the past as mine don't need it for weight nor for energy, but I've been debating the pellets lately with regards to ulcer prevention and the extra calcium (latter coz I feed high levels of Mg and often worry I'm depleting their systems of Ca). Any thoughts, thx.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lieslot View Post
                    I know it's probably been discussed before already, but where does alfalfa pellets fall in this discussion.

                    Would you add a few cupfulls of alfalfa pellets for horses in low-medium work that are already in good bodyconditions.

                    I never ever considered alfalfa in the past as mine don't need it for weight nor for energy, but I've been debating the pellets lately with regards to ulcer prevention and the extra calcium (latter coz I feed high levels of Mg and often worry I'm depleting their systems of Ca). Any thoughts, thx.
                    I don't think that you need to. The Mg does the same as Ca in buffering stomach acids and should not be depleteing the system of Ca as long as your Ca:Mg ratio isn't skewed. 1:1 if fine but higher Mg than Ca can lead to a problem. the thing is you have to do the ratio on the ration as a whole! Including the hay.
                    MW
                    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                    New edition of book is out:
                    Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                    www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks Melyni.
                      Originally posted by Melyni
                      the thing is you have to do the ratio on the ration as a whole! Including the hay.
                      I understand, but for me this really feels like guessing in the dark. Testing hay pointless as supplier drops off different load every delivery. Their feed is less then the recommended amount on feedbags, so guesswork again and I add about 7,5g of Mg in supplement daily, plus free choice minerals, which in all really makes it impossible to figure out if the Mg is not way over the Ca total.

                      What are the concerns of a higher Mg to Ca ratio? Do horses get osteoporosis like humans? (never heard of however)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lieslot View Post
                        Thanks Melyni.
                        I understand, but for me this really feels like guessing in the dark. Testing hay pointless as supplier drops off different load every delivery. Their feed is less then the recommended amount on feedbags, so guesswork again and I add about 7,5g of Mg in supplement daily, plus free choice minerals, which in all really makes it impossible to figure out if the Mg is not way over the Ca total.

                        What are the concerns of a higher Mg to Ca ratio? Do horses get osteoporosis like humans? (never heard of however)
                        No, cos Mg is stored in the bone as calcium is. But a shortage of Ca may lead to the horse getting the thumps. If he sounds like he is hiccuping after work then he is thumping, and should be given a calcium supplement. Which can be as simple as 10 tums in his feed or a tablespoonful of limestone flour added to his feed.

                        So listen to him after work and see if he makes a hiccuping type of noise.
                        Yours
                        MW
                        Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                        Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                        New edition of book is out:
                        Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                        www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Okay, great, I've never noticed any hiccups, so sounds like they'll be fine.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I agree with you, Melyni, re the amt of grass vs. alfalfa, and Dublin's a way easy keeper. But we've been waiting for 4+ weeks for the 90% orchard/ 10% clover that I like to feed because of the weather out west. For a pretty penny, too. I've tried all types of combos with timothy and she just wastes more than she eats. I've found a 70% alfalfa/ 30% orchard that I wish was the opposite, but that's the closest I've found that she'll eat. She gets two flakes a.m. and one p.m. And it was probably 1/2 of what that orchard/clover was. Guess others have even harder times getting the hay they need right now... : (
                            http://www.angelfire.com/ult/irishmosaic/Dublin/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Melyni View Post
                              Timothy:- grass hay generally 10-15% protein (depending on when it was cut and baled), NSC 8-18% again depending on when it was cut and baled. Can be low in essential amino-acids, but generally good level of fiber and if well preserved good vitamins. Minerals levels depend on the soil it was grown in.


                              Alfalfa:- legume, much higher in protein, but not very high quality protein, so a lot gets wasted and comes out as urine. AS the plant has a deep taproot, it is usually higher in minerals, most especially the cations Mg and Ca, again this depends on what was in the soil it grew in. Sugar content will depend on age of plant at time of cutting and baling as in how much leaf and how much stem.

                              As a general rule, some alfalfa is nice to increase protein and calcium intake BUT too much alfalfa will increase urine output and can make the horse 'high' or aggressive. I usually recommend that only 20% of the hay ration be fed as alfalfa, that is 1 flake in 5 is alfalfa and 4 flakes are grass hay.

                              YMMV
                              Yours
                              MW
                              and not to "nab" a thread again.. however..
                              I still do not "get" why straight alfalfa is BAD? I am feeding 2nd cutting alfalfa w/ 18%protein, 5%ESC 2%Starch for my EPSM horse who seems to not have a problem with straight alfalfa. 2 new horses seem more high strung after a week at farm...not sure if alfalfa is to blame...seems everyone always blames alfalfa...

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                the blame for horses getting "hot" on alfalfa lies in allergies. Not the protein level. Unfortunately, the protein issue was put out there 20+ years ago, and has been impossible to de-myth since then.

                                There is East Coast alfalfa, and there is West Coast alfalfa. EC is much less suitable to feed free choice than WC.
                                ______________________________
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by JB View Post
                                  the blame for horses getting "hot" on alfalfa lies in allergies. Not the protein level. Unfortunately, the protein issue was put out there 20+ years ago, and has been impossible to de-myth since then.

                                  There is East Coast alfalfa, and there is West Coast alfalfa. EC is much less suitable to feed free choice than WC.
                                  Excuse my ignorance, but what allergies?
                                  Specific allergies to alfalfa by each individual horse? And the only symptom is excessive urination and a hot horse?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    yes, allergies in horses can manifest as being "hot" - too much energy, spooky, etc.

                                    Excessive peeing isn't an allergy symptom though, it is a biological function of needing more water intake for the kidneys to properly process the higher amount of protein.
                                    ______________________________
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                    Comment

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