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Feeding alfalfa cubes

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  • Feeding alfalfa cubes

    Have a senior horse (20 yrs) on TC senior (6 lbs/day) and would like to supplement with alfalfa cubes for the winter. He's in OK weight, but could stand a little more. How much should I start with? Currently on free choice timothy/orchard mix hay.

  • #2
    I sometimes fed mine the cubes filling my feed scoop with them and soaking well.

    I will NEVER have them here again though after going through a TERRIBLE 3-4 hour choke from feeding a few dry for a treat one day. It even took the vet a very long time to shove the thing down with a tube as it wouldn't pass on its own.

    I KNOW you will hear from a lot of people who might feed them dry (my friend does)...but why take a chance.

    So soak them for a long while and well...or give a nice sloppy bucket of wet beet pulp along with the regular feed ...it will add some weight..my guys love it.
    "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"

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    • #3
      I'd start with about 1/4-1/2 lb....half a big coffee can. Soak in warm water for 15 min. Feed.

      Work up as you see fit. Also consider adding vegetable oil. Start w/ 1/4 cup and work up to 2 C per feeding. That offers cool calories and can be helpful.
      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

      Might be a reason, never an excuse...

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      • #4
        When I boarded at a barn that was ridiculously skimpy on hay, alfalfa cubes were basically my saving grace with my sensitive stomached mare!

        Considering she DID have a sensitive stomach, I weaned her onto them VERY slowly (and she was still getting 4 flakes of hay a day). I started with about 6 cubes for a week. Then 12 cubes for 3 or 4 days. Then 1/2lb or so for a week. Then 1 lb for a week.

        Once she was on 1lb a day, I'd slowly increase the cubes at a rate of 1lb/per week. So..

        Week 1 - 1 lb.
        Week 2 - 2lbs.
        Week 3 - 3lbs.

        etc, etc.
        Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

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        • #5
          You may want to use hay stretcher pellets instead. They take much less time to soak in winter than alfalfa cubes, and do a good job of keeping weight on.

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          • #6
            I'd def. soak the cubes, but it could be a good way to keep the weight on your old horse.

            You probably want to supplement with about 3-5 pounds per day. A BIG coffee can full of cubes is approximately one pound (dry).
            I would start him out with a handful of them dry (maybe 5 cubes) just so the horse get's used to them for a couple days. Then bring him up to half can (assuming you are using a big coffee can for a few days, then a full can for a week. Then he wil be accustomed and you can probably just keep on adding it on.

            I tend to soak them in a little more than 1:1 ratio (slightly more water)

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            • #7
              I use the Alfalfa Cubes when I pack into hunting camp and for the occassional trips into National Parks like Yelowstone where I need certified weed free forage. I substitute it on a 1:1 basis for baled hay. If my horses get 20bs of baled hay each day, they get 20 lbs of cubes. I do make sure they are eating baled alfalfa before I switch to cubes. It's enough of switch to go from baled hay to cubes, I don't want to also switch from grass to alfalfa at the same time.

              Unfortunately at hunting camp, I have to haul in all my water. So I don't have water to soak the cubes for my horse. Each day we ride the horses down to water them. They get plenty of water, But in camp they eat their cubes dry.

              I also frequently travel with my horses. One of the horse motels that I put the horses up in, boards around 40 horses. He feeds Alfalfa cubes to all of the horses he boards. I've watched him scoop up the cubes into 5 gal buckets and pass out to all the horses. None of which get them soaked.

              I know there are folks who have had horses choke on dry cubes. I've witnessed many horses eat dry cubes and have never seen one have a problem. You will have to decide if this is a concern for you. But I don't worry about it. I'd much rather my horses have the feed while in hunting camp. After many years of feeding the cubes dry, I don't worry about soaking. Some horses are prone to choking, It may happen when they lawn clippings, beet pulp or hay cubes. I spend more time making sure my horses are not starved into wolfing their feed, that they stay hydrated, that they each have their own feed and not competing to eat.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Painted Horse View Post
                I use the Alfalfa Cubes when I pack into hunting camp and for the occassional trips into National Parks like Yelowstone where I need certified weed free forage. I substitute it on a 1:1 basis for baled hay. If my horses get 20bs of baled hay each day, they get 20 lbs of cubes. I do make sure they are eating baled alfalfa before I switch to cubes. It's enough of switch to go from baled hay to cubes, I don't want to also switch from grass to alfalfa at the same time.

                Unfortunately at hunting camp, I have to haul in all my water. So I don't have water to soak the cubes for my horse. Each day we ride the horses down to water them. They get plenty of water, But in camp they eat their cubes dry.

                I also frequently travel with my horses. One of the horse motels that I put the horses up in, boards around 40 horses. He feeds Alfalfa cubes to all of the horses he boards. I've watched him scoop up the cubes into 5 gal buckets and pass out to all the horses. None of which get them soaked.

                I know there are folks who have had horses choke on dry cubes. I've witnessed many horses eat dry cubes and have never seen one have a problem. You will have to decide if this is a concern for you. But I don't worry about it. I'd much rather my horses have the feed while in hunting camp.
                I also fed my cubes dry most of the time. If the horse isn't a food hound, and has ZERO dental problems, it's usually fine. My mare will eat one cube at a time, and even spit out half of a cube if she thinks it's too big. She's a very dainty eater.

                For an older horse, I'd probably soak them, just to be safe. Older horses usually don't have perfect teeth, so better safe than sorry. If you can't soak, then I'd probably do alfalfa pellets instead. The really small pellets, not the thumb-sized pellets.
                Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

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                • #9
                  In my experience they are much less likely to choke from the cubes than the pellets.
                  McDowell Racing Stables

                  Home Away From Home

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                    In my experience they are much less likely to choke from the cubes than the pellets.
                    Really? Good to know. I assumed since the pellets are so much smaller (ie the size of most normal "grain" pellets), they'd be safer.
                    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Agreed that you should start with around 1/4 lb (two big handfuls) and work up as needed. I love the senior/cube mush to put weight on. I mix everything with hot water and let it sit for a few minutes before feeding. You can get extra moisture into them, give them a warm meal in the winter, it's easy to mix any supps with and great for feed droppers/ones with dentition issues.
                      Please don't try to be a voice of reason. It's way more fun to spin things out of control. #BecauseCOTH - showhorsegallery

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                      • #12
                        the ancient mare with cushings and hard keeper gets about 3 lbs of soaked alfalfa cubes a day, she also get beet pulp and hay pellets along with her tc senior, everything gets soaked, she has hay all day but inspite of dental care not really able to eat enough of it

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sublimequine View Post
                          Really? Good to know. I assumed since the pellets are so much smaller (ie the size of most normal "grain" pellets), they'd be safer.
                          The cubes break apart when they bite on them, the pellets have to be really chewed to break up. The pellets are about 10X the size of say a ration balancer pellet, so they aren't small.
                          McDowell Racing Stables

                          Home Away From Home

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                          • #14
                            I used cubes as treats because they were cheaper. The consistency was always changing from bag to bag, some were like bricks...I have chosen to give them up.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                              The pellets are about 10X the size of say a ration balancer pellet, so they aren't small.
                              I've never bought alfalfa pellets that were any bigger than normal pelleted feed. I'm sure they make them, but I've never seen them.

                              I do soak all my cubes though. Not worth the risk of choke, and I have water in the barn. Plus I have one horse who likes to inhale his food, and an older mare whose teeth I would like to conserve. Our hay is stemmy enough without making her chew apart rock-hard alfalfa cubes on a regular basis.

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                              • #16
                                Just sharing my own personal experience, for whatever it's worth.

                                Re choke:

                                I've fed some hay pellets for 30+ years to a variety of horses over the years. I've never had a horse choke. Again, just my own experience. "Your mileage may differ" I may just have been lucky.

                                I have personally seen at least 6 horses owned by friends and aquaintances, choking on cubes.

                                My soon-to-be 33 year-old gets soaked hay pellets. In cold weather, we use warm to hot water, and they are ready to feed in 5-10 minutes. In warmer weather, I may use water straight out of the barn hose and they become mush in just a few minutes.

                                Currently, I have one mare whose hay I supplement with regular (dry) hay pellets, to help her hold weight. (I've had great luck feeding the pellets to underweight horses, to help them gain, without having to add any grains or other supplements. I DON'T generally feed them to the "easy keepers" LOL).

                                Introduce the pellets (or cubes) slowly, just as you would any new feed, or change in hay/feed. A small handful to start, maybe, for a few days. Slowly increase the quantity over say, a week or two until you are at the volumne/quantity that you plan to continue at.

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