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Is Alfalfa bad for senior citizens?!?!?

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  • Is Alfalfa bad for senior citizens?!?!?

    Those who frequent the COTH forums may remember my previous posts about a 25 year old super senior coming back to me from a long lease not looking what he did when he left my care....lame, under weight, and unhappy my horse was returned to me ... I quickly put him back on a senior feed 2x a day laced with veggie oil and Omegatin by kent. I also added alfalfa hay to his orchard grass and timothy mixed free choice hay for the extra calories... I have since switched to alfalfa cubes(soaked) due to the poor selection of alfalfa hay I have found so far in MD.... He has been in "fat camp" for the better part of three months but after reading this article needless to say I am concerned.....

    The following excerpt was taken from horse.com...

    "Interestingly, calcium absorption is not affected by age -- calcium is absorbed in the small intestine, while phosphorus is absorbed in the large intestine. That can make ration balancing a little tricky, since calcium and phosphorus often are found in supplements together. This is one instance where the addition of a high-phosphorus feed, such as wheat or rice bran, might be useful if you're providing a lot of calcium already, however alfalfa hay should not be fed to an aged horse. The rule of thumb about calciumhosphorus ratios in younger horses holds true for older horses -- you want to provide at least as much calcium as phosphorus, never the other way around. In the case of an equine senior citizen, you want to watch that phosphorus levels don't drop too low."

    Is alfalfa bad for my super senior?!?!?! He is gaining weight...and I firmly believe that alfalfa is to be credited with the majority of his weight gain...

    don't squat with your spurs on!

  • #2
    Well, over 50 years and many senior horses later I can say not in our experience.

    Right now, we have a 29 year old that has been on only alfalfa and pasture for the past 11 years.

    I understand that we have to watch no matter how we manage our horses, especially the older ones, but I would say that, without clear reason NOT to feed alfalfa, if it is working, why not?


    • #3
      I just asked my vet abt taking my 30yo gelding off alfalfa and she said not to. He had just had a choke episode and I thought that a grass hay might be better choice for him.


      • #4
        My 20 year old is on straight alfalfa hay - it's the one thing I can say has helped put weight on him and keep weight on him. My vet says to keep it up


        • #5
          Yep the consensus around my area and on my farm is that alfalfa is fed to oldies. I feed all the old horses a limited amount of alfalfa hay daily, combined with beautiful tender early-cut grass hay ad-lib. They all have a balanced diet to fit in with what they need and which they can easily eat and digest feed. Alfalfa hay is one thing that they all have in common.


          • #6
            What about the oldies with IR? We are looking for other substances to feed my old arab to get in more calories without messing up his IR.
            RIP Mydan Mydandy+
            RIP Barichello