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How to feed alfalfa Alfalfa pellets?

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  • How to feed alfalfa Alfalfa pellets?

    I have an senior gelding that has been working his way back to a healthy weight after a bad lease situation... I started working some alfalfa hay into his orchard grass hay mix to help him get some extra calories along with his senior feed and a fat supplement called Omegatin by a company called Kent offered to him twice a day. I am seeing gradual results with this program but I am having difficulty finding a supplier that I like....the last time I had to throw out 2 out of ten bales due to mold!

    A border at my facility has a OTTB hard keeper and is raving about the progress she has been getting supplementing alfalfa pellets in addition to hay and grain... soooo I added a bag to my latest feed order..Well the bag arrives and there are NO instructions on the bag!!!! Grrrrrrrreat. very helpful right? I managed to google up some info about how some ppl soak the pellets in equal parts water and some ppl feed it straight... I also read that some ppl that fed it straight caused their horses to choke! Eeek! Soooo what is the proper way to feed alfalfa pellets and how much is a safe amount to add?

    Thanks everyone!
    don't squat with your spurs on!

  • #2
    You can feed them wet or dry. If your horse is prone to choke or has bad teeth/chewing due to age, soak them. Otherwise, feed them dry.

    My favorite pellets are Mountain Sunrise because of the small diameter (pencil-size) of the pellet.

    You can replace all of his hay (by weight) with pellets, if you wish, or feed a smaller amount that when combined with the weight of hay equals his total hay ration by weight.

    As with any dietary changes, start slow and build up.
    Last edited by ksojerio; Sep. 11, 2009, 10:22 PM. Reason: more info

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    • #3
      It really depends on the size of the pellets to be honest. I fed my 6 yr old some alfalfa pellets, but I got the smaller ones since I was afraid of a choke with the bigger and fatter ones that were dense and more likely to get stuck. I fed them without soaking since they were so small, but if they were bigger I would have soaked them.

      If he were a senior gelding though, I would have soaked them despite the size of them as older horses are more prone to choke. I would soak them and create a mash to prevent the risk of a choke. I am afraid this is all the information I can really provide, but I would encourage you to soak them for 2-5 minutes before feeding-probably with his other food-just to keep him safe.

      Good luck.

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      • #4
        Out here (Arizona) we feed giant sized alfalfa pellets. Most of the horses eat them dry. (Some, like mine, like to put them in the water bucket...) No problems. Back east I remember much smaller pellets. But hay bales are bigger out here, too!

        The really old horses and the one mare who is prone to choke don't get pellets, they get 'fines' made into soup. I'm guessing this is the stuff that goes into the machine to make the pellets, it's basically powder.

        --
        Wendy
        http://pbase.com/wendysmoak/patrick
        --
        Wendy
        ... and Patrick

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        • #5
          The large square ones are alfalfa cubes. The small ones are pellets. Soaking the cubes is no problem for horses that can't chew very well, soaking the pellets can be a mess. Generally, if you just dampen the whole feed mix well, including the alfalfa pellets, he will do just fine. You can dampen them with water, or a combination of water and corn oil (which is much cheaper if you buy the store brand in a gallon jug at the super market than if you buy it at the feed store) to add extra fat. Omegatin is made by Blue Seal and probably your feed dealer is Kent, but they don't make it. Omegatin is a really good quality feed with chelated vitamins and minerals to keep them stable.

          Feed your guy about 1/2 - 1 lb per feeding of alfalfa pellets. He'll be much more liable to eat them if his feed is well mixed and dampened than just tossing them in by themselves. All my horses get them.
          Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
          Now apparently completely invisible!

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          • #6
            I feed the pellets and it's really a double edged sword, which is why I'm going to experiment with alfalfa meal.

            The pellets are pretty big and we did have a yearling choke mildly while eating them. So the safest way to feed is to wet them down. BUT alfalfa pellets are quite resemblant of sponge monkeys. Soaked they become a huge gunky gross mess (that sticks to the sides of the feed buckets and the horses can't eat it all without you scraping the buckets).
            Celtic Pride Farm
            www.celticpridefarm.com
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            • #7
              My horse would not touch them if they were soaked, so he eats them dry. Just started a couple of weeks ago and he seems to do fine and eats them willingly. He's already worked up to a little under a pound per feeding. He's a very slow eater though, so I'm not super concerned about choke as he doesn't really rush through his grain *knock on wood*.

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              • #8
                If you want to soak them and are making a mess with it, just don't use so much water. When I "soak" them, I use just enough water that there is no excess "juice" -- the pellets lose their shape and become the texture of damp sawdust. (If you took a fistful of them and squeezed, no water would trickle out.) No "gunky gross mess" at all.

                Depending on the horse, sometimes I stir in some sweet feed as well.

                If you guess wrong and over water, you can just stir in another cup or so of pellets. Pretty soon, you figure out what amount of water it takes.

                Having had several horses choke on dry alfalfa pellets, I'd never again feed them dry. And none of the "chokers" were rushy eaters.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by greysandbays View Post
                  If you want to soak them and are making a mess with it, just don't use so much water. When I "soak" them, I use just enough water that there is no excess "juice" -- the pellets lose their shape and become the texture of damp sawdust. (If you took a fistful of them and squeezed, no water would trickle out.) No "gunky gross mess" at all.

                  Depending on the horse, sometimes I stir in some sweet feed as well.

                  If you guess wrong and over water, you can just stir in another cup or so of pellets. Pretty soon, you figure out what amount of water it takes.

                  Having had several horses choke on dry alfalfa pellets, I'd never again feed them dry. And none of the "chokers" were rushy eaters.
                  Ding ding ding. I agree with greysandbays 100% on this, having also had a slow eater choke once.

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                  • #10
                    Yep, one nasty choke will cure you of feeding pellets dry. I wet mine down for every horse, and I add different amounts of water depending on what each horse likes. The toothless pony gets them sloppy wet, because if they get to texture of meal, she stops eating. She seems to need the excess water to be able to swallow them. She licks her feed tub clean. I can see how this method would be a problem for wall-mounted feeders, though.

                    Horses with good teeth may prefer them less wet. But make sure there is enough water so they dissolve.

                    The problem with pellets seems to be if the horse swallows and they don't go all the way down. They take another bite, and meanwhile, the pellets in their throat are busy absorbing moisture and expanding. They can really pack down and cause a scary, difficult-to-clear choke. I've spent quite a few hours while vets work through pellet-chokes, and the look on the vet's face is enough to cure you of wanting to feed them dry, no matter how much easier it is.

                    Why have I seen more than one case of choke if one is enough to cure? Because I volunteered for a rescue and would go out to meet the vet after frantic calls from foster homes. It wasn't my horses, nor my feeding choice.

                    For weight gain, I've had good success adding rice bran pellets to the aged pony's diet. She went from gaunt to merely thin. She has cancer, so I can't expect miracles. I added them to an OTTB's diet, too, and it took care of that last bit of rounding out I wanted to see. They are both also on alfalfa pellets, and have been for a long time. Rice bran added some palatable fat, in addition to having a decent amount of protein.

                    Added benefit to wetting pellets: helps hydrate the horse. This is especially important in the winter when we worry about them not drinking enough.
                    "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      I'm feeding him a cup soaked now....it does create a mess but he scarfs it right up ( guess he likes the old man mush) I think I'mm work my way up to three cups or a pound worth soaked with all his other bells and whistles to try and keep him at weight through the winter. Thanks everyone!
                      don't squat with your spurs on!

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