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Will Hay Cubes Put Weight on a Thin Horse

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  • Will Hay Cubes Put Weight on a Thin Horse

    I have a young horse who arrived here this winter a little thin. (we did the appropriate worming). I want to help the horse gain weight, but I want to stay away from a lot of grain and she won't eat beetpulp. (turns up nose at oil, too). Will timothy hay cubes put any significant weight on a young horse? I'm hesitant of feeding alfalfa hay cubes because I don't want to see the horse to get hyped-up. The horse also gets free choice hay. Will non-alfalfa hay cubes put weight on a horse already getting free-choice hay?

  • #2
    If the horse can get free choice hay then you shouldn't need the cubes. Unless the hay is poor quality or something.

    I would have the hay analyzed and then feed a vit/min supplement or ration balancer with the hay. It's not exactly feeding grain per say but the horse is still getting all the nutrients it needs.

    I feed Alfalfa pellets and have not had my horse get hot off of them but some may react differently.


    • #3
      Hay stretcher

      A friend of mine who rocks at equine nutrition swears by Haystretcher. With that, and perhaps also Strongid C2X-- a daily, feed-through wormer, she can make almost any horse fat.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat


      • #4
        Don't be afraid of some alfalfa if you are trying to rehab one that is in poor shape.

        Gets a bad reputation from improper and over feeding and it really will not make them "hot" if fed properly-some mistake radiant good health and good energy for "hot".

        You could add a few soaked alfalfa cubes twice a day. Think that will add more then just the non alfalfa hay cubes when you are already feeding good hay. Most love the taste.

        Barn I am in buys alfalfa mix hay when available and I know you can get an alfalfa mixed cube because I fed it for a bit...but don't let the straight alfalfa scare you off, good stuff when properly fed as part of a well balanced diet.

        Did you get her teeth done? Have a friend who just bought one that would turn it's nose up and most feed and seller claimed it was a picky eater and hard to keep weight on.

        Teeth were horrible and after 6 months, that thing will eat anything not nailed down and is a regular air fern.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


        • #5
          I've had very good results feeding rice bran to the hard keepers. Very high in fat, most seem to eat it up readily.


          • #6
            I love them!

            My 25-y-o Tb mare lost a lot of weight in a pasture board situation before I could get her moved to full board. The vet recommended soaked alfalfa cubes, in addition to her grain mix and free-choice timothy hay.

            She got (and still gets) 15 soaked cubes twice daily, and she looks great—shiny and in good weight! We were really afraid we wouldn't be able to get weight back on her at her age, but the cubes worked wonders.
            "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive


            • #7
              Beware that rice bran is high in NSCs though. I agree that adding some alfalfa should not hurt either and perhaps also consider a probiotic.

              You could also try some black oil sunflower seeds and make sure there's not another underlying reason for the weight issue.


              • #8
                I also would suggest a probiotic. I give my mare alfalfa cubes and they have not made her hot. I would absolutely add alfalfa cubes if you want to put some weight on!


                • #9
                  Alfalfa cubes worked great to put some weight back on my mare when she was younger. She won her halter class that fall!
                  There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                  • #10
                    I have had fabulous luck with both easy and hard keepers with hay stretcher pellets. If they were really skinny I also topdressed with a little corn oil. It's cheap and they love their pellets!


                    • #11
                      Timothy cubes help my gelding gain and maintain his weight. He gets a bucketful once a day.


                      • Original Poster

                        How is it that alfalfa cubes could not make a horse hot? I thought it was a given that the high protein would cause this to happen. Were the horses who didn't get hot from alfalfa cubes either old or in hard work? Isn't it safe to assume that a young horse who isn't in work would get hot from the cubes?


                        • #13
                          My just turned 3 year old mare, who has been doing a whole lot of nothing all winter, gets about 3/4 of a pound, dry weight, soaked, a day. There is nothing hot about her. Actually, you could light her tail on fire, and she still wouldn't be hot...


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by grey_mare View Post
                            How is it that alfalfa cubes could not make a horse hot? I thought it was a given that the high protein would cause this to happen. Were the horses who didn't get hot from alfalfa cubes either old or in hard work? Isn't it safe to assume that a young horse who isn't in work would get hot from the cubes?
                            You won't be feeding him enough alfalfa to make that kind of impact on his behavior. Some benefits will be giving him something that is wet and that any vitamins will stick to it, including salt and loose minerals. If the cubes are meant as supplemental, you'll want to start with 1 pound 2x a day and then increase to 2 or maybe 3 pounds 2x a day. I wouldn't go more than that if you have good hay.

                            Many times, getting more liquids and minerals will help a horse. When they are soaked, it makes it faster to eat and more quickly digestible. More like grass - which will make a horse gain weight very quickly.

                            They don't even need to soak long. I use hot water and in 15 minutes they are soft enough. just start slowly and increase the amount over several days. If the horse avoids them, add a small spoonful of molasses to them while they soak.


                            • #15
                              I don't think timothy cubes are going to do anything. However, alfalfa cubes most likely will- for the most part, the hyped up on alfalfa thing is a total myth (before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I'm not saying there aren't individuals who might get a little high from alfalfa, but as for the general population...nah). Alfalfa is not only more nutritionally dense- it can act a stomach buffer which is a great benefit for horses that have been previously underfed. It also has the high protein levels necessary for muscle building (also beneficial for an underweight horse). All of my horses get a least some alfalfa everyday and I haven't had one yet that hasn't benefitted.

                              Other suggestions might be to add rice bran or try cool calories if they don't like the oil.
                              "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                              So you might as well have a good time"


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by grey_mare View Post
                                How is it that alfalfa cubes could not make a horse hot? I thought it was a given that the high protein would cause this to happen. Were the horses who didn't get hot from alfalfa cubes either old or in hard work? Isn't it safe to assume that a young horse who isn't in work would get hot from the cubes?
                                Protein does not make a horse hot. All food stuffs (other than water and minerals) can be broken down into proteins, fats, and carbs.On a very basic level: Proteins are the building blocks; they do things like build muscle, and repair cells. Fats are used for growth, slow release energy and synthesizing hormones. Carbohydrates are the main energy source- this is where you are going to get your "hot" horse from if you overdue. Think about how it works in a human: give a kid a bowl of suguary ceral and a poptart for breakfast and he's probably going to be a teacher's nightmare for the morning. That's the simple carbohydrates and their short burst energy release. However, give the same kid some eggs and a glass of milk (full of protein) and he's much more apt to stay focused and not have an up and down energy spike like he did with the carbs.
                                "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                                So you might as well have a good time"


                                • #17
                                  The Rule is that if calories consumed exceed calories burned then the horse will gain weight. If they do not, it won't.

                                  Can the horse eat enough hay cubes to do that? I guess it depends on the nutritional quality of the hay cubes and what the horse is doing.

                                  Intelligent grain supplimentation carries no demonstrable risk to any otherwise healthy horse.

                                  A larger question is the weight gained healthy? You might want to do a Henneke Body Condition Score to see just where you stand. Sometimes the favorite color for a horse in America is "fat." The HBCS is a more objective measure.

                                  Good luck in whatever you decide.

                                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by grey_mare View Post
                                    How is it that alfalfa cubes could not make a horse hot? I thought it was a given that the high protein would cause this to happen. Were the horses who didn't get hot from alfalfa cubes either old or in hard work? Isn't it safe to assume that a young horse who isn't in work would get hot from the cubes?

                                    Um. No.

                                    Fed straight alfalfa for years out west because that is what we had and all we could get. Very little grain although a colt would need something with more calcium to offset the high potassium. And they did well on lesser quantities then other hay. Never saw colic until I moved to the east coast and never fed the kind of grain quantities or supplements I see in some barns trying to make up for poor hay quality.

                                    Overfeeding anything or haphazardly adding all sorts of grain and supplements has given alfalfa a bad reputation when it is really not the sole cause. Plus horses are individuals, they are all different and have different needs.

                                    The only problems we ever had with it were some just don't tolerate it, especially in humid climates, and develop bumps just under the skin-like hives-and a few sweat up too much. Both easily solved be reducing the amount of alfalfa by mixing with a lesser quality forage, but not eliminating it.

                                    In a perfect world, high quality hay is your base ration and IMO that is an alfalfa mix with whatever you can get locally in a percentage based on what is lacking in the local stuff or simply adding some soaked alfalfa cubes. NOT ALOT.

                                    And, again, "hot" is a subjective term often confused with healthy. Undernourished horses don't feel good. Get them feeling better and you get more horse. And adding alfalfa to your exsisting forage does not automatically get you too much protein.
                                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                    • #19
                                      ab lib hay and small meals 3/4 times a day dont over face a horse with a large grain meal
                                      thats skinny you will end up with colic
                                      so small meals and ab lib good quality hay