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"Free-choice" alfalfa for lactating mare?

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  • "Free-choice" alfalfa for lactating mare?

    My mare, who foaled 2 months ago, is really looking rough right now. Her filly is absolutely huge and just thriving, and she is taking it hard. The mare is getting probably half a bale of coastal, 3 or 4 big scoops (maybe 10 pounds?) of alfalfa cubes, and 3 or 4 big scoops of a 14/7 feed (Seminole, so very good feed), as well as a good amount of rice bran.

    I really don't want to put a round bale out for her, as she tends not to do so well with one (has had a mild colic before on round bale 24/7), and she wastes at least half of it by peeing all over it. Is it OK so give her *almost* free-choice alfalfa cubes? I cannot feed timothy hay as I am VERY allergic to it, and the coastal we have down here is just not that high in nutrition to keep up with a lactating mare.

    Also, is there any way to encourage my filly to eat more feed and hay and nurse less short of separating them part of each day? The filly is interested, and will nose around some, but then quickly decides that nursing is better.

    Also, I cannot add beet pulp, as my mare will not touch it. I could try adding oil, or maybe an extra feeding of a high-fat senior feed, but beet pulp is a no-go with this one.

  • #2
    Have you tried mixing the beep with the alfalfa?

    I might suggest maybe trying Triple Crown Sr or other really yummy low starch/high fiber/decent fat senior feed--they can be fed virtually free choice, but have more bang-for-the buck than alfalfa (fat, calories) My older, fussy, ulcerprone Trak mare used to get skeletal when lactating--she did AWESOME on the TC Sr, would be up to about 12lbs a day on top of her free choice hay etc.

    Will your mare eat any fat supps? Rice bran? Cocosoya? oil? Cool Cals? etc?? Upping the fat is always the safest/quickest way to add calories... Even my fussiest will eat plain ol' oil if I soak the alfalfa slightly then add it to that...
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

    Comment


    • #3
      My mare that I had the worst time keeping weight on would eat about 1/3 of a #50 bag of soaked hay cubes a day while nursing. If you could find a 2nd or 3rd cut Orchard/Alfalfa, you could free choice that.

      How big is a "scoop"? You may need to feed about 15 lbs a day (3 meals) of a feed that supplies 1500+ calories per pound. This is in addition to the alfalfa cubes, grass hay & pasture.
      Last edited by Fairview Horse Center; May. 31, 2008, 05:18 PM.

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      • #4
        Our girls with foals are getting 16lbs a day of grain/pellet + a generous amount of beetpulp. They also get approx 8 lbs of alfalfa cubes a day as well as being on pasture. At this they are holding thier weight and one mare is gaining slightly.
        www.freewebs.com/roppelstables

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          The scoop is a bit over 2 quarts, and the feed is 1.6 pounds per quart, so about 10 pounds of a 14/8 pelleted feed. She could be getting more than that, but it is at least close to 10 pounds.

          I did pick up Seminole's version of the TC Senior. Holy crap that stuff is expensive! $20 a bag! It is 12/10, and I gave her two scoops of that today (one when I got there and one when I left two hours later). How much of that CAN I feed in addition to the 10-ish pounds of the 14/8 pellets? She eats very slowly, so I am not worried about her bolting her feed and having colic problems from that.

          Oh, and I could mix beet pulp with pretty much anything and she won't eat it. She will eat the Sr that is high in beet pulp, but not just plain old beet pulp. I do have her on some rice bran, but she has never been one to eat a meaningful amount of oil.

          Comment


          • #6
            Just remember that feeding "fiber" in grain is a very expensive way to feed hay. Senior feeds are also more about feeding an old horse that just won't eat enough hay, not about adding calories.

            To put weight on a horse that needs nutrients and calories, I stick with basics and a ration balancer. Using 2 to 4 lbs a day of a ration balancer like Grow N Win, or Pregressive, and adding whole grains (oats, corn, barley) to that + increasing the quality of hay (higher % of alfalfa) is what really does the job. Athlete, (just a couple of pounds a day added to regular feed) is also a high fat feed that really puts on weight (better than anything I have seen)

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            • #7
              Sorry, I missed the part about the rice bran in your first post...

              While I do agree that Sr. feed is mostly fiber--it's a way of adding fiber AND calories that you can feed A LOT of, in a form that is easy to handle.

              I was thinking of this all the way home. Where I lived in Ohio, the pasture and hay were bascially clover & alfalfa, with emphasis on the alfalfa (working cattle ranch.) We fed a LOT.

              I think where you'd run into trouble is the cal/phos ratio, but since I haven't fed alfalfa in the last 20 years, I'm not up on that.

              I *love* Sunshine Pellets/Calf manna as top dress for hard keepers and lactating broodies. Just one of those things that carried over from my working student days on an Arabian breeding farm. Old fashioned but works.

              I would think in cube form you could feed the alfalfa pretty close to free choice... but for ME I would do everything I could to get some FAT in the diet, whatever that takes. Cheapest, safest way to add calories...

              I have a mare who lactates like a prize dairy cow. She gets HIDEOUSLY skinny with some foals, no matter WHAT I do. I don't wean prior to 5 months, and prefer 6-7 months, but some of hers get 'day weaned' much sooner--separated for the night or day (6hrs or so) with their own ration... next to Mum but not able to nurse... and during that time the mare pretty much has CONCENTRATES in front of her the whole time... I do find *some* incarceration helps too. I am a 24/7 type of gal, but some REST from bugs, chasing baby etc. does seem to help a little too...

              Just a couple more ideas. It's frustrating.
              InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Oh, I went with the Sr feed because it is very high in fat without me trying to add a lot of oil to her feed, which can make her turn her nose up at it. Not specifically because it is Sr. feed. This stuff is 12% protein and 10% fat.

                I *think* the BO has started putting the mare out on the grassier sections of the property by herself for several hours every day. I will talk to him tomorrow or Monday to confirm. Bad memory, cannot remember if he is doing it every day or just occasionally. I think the part-day weaning could be an excellent idea. She seems to be a bit tired of chasing baby all day.

                Would I be OK to add some oil on top of the higher fat feed? Not too much because then she isn't going to eat it, but maybe a cup a day split into a couple feedings or poured into the "free-choice" alfalfa cubes?

                Who makes this Athlete feed? what is the protein/fat in it? I've not heard of it around here, but that certainly doesn't mean much since I stick with TC or Seminole.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Athlete is a Purina product, I think.

                  Me, I like oil when possible. I would *definitely* sneak in as much as she'll tolerate. My old Trak gal did best on 1c per day--2c seemed to be too much, she thrived on 1c. OTOH, my other old mare does best on 2c. So you just adjust for what they tolerate and do best on, ya know? Definitely can top dress it *wherever* she'll tolerate. I've known some EPSM folks to spray it on hay to get it eaten!
                  InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Try perennial peanut hay. It has very similar nutritional value as alfalfa and since you're in Florida it should be pretty easy for you to get and a lot less expensive than alfalfa.
                    Fox Haven Farm, Inc.
                    Home of 2002 JC Registered stallion Artrageous

                    Artrageous has his own Facebook page!

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      I've fed the peanut before and liked it just fine. My local feed store does not carry it, but I'm sure Hay Exchange would. How much per bale is it usually? I can get the alfalfa cubes for $11 for 50lb, and no waste.

                      Something else I thought of, I did not PowerPac her this year. She was PowerPacked February about a year ago, but I didn't do it this year because the package says it has not been tested in pregnant mares, and she has been dewormed regularly. I paste worm mine monthly (vet recommended for FL), and I rotate between ivermectin, Panacur, and either TapeCare (double Strongid I think) or Equimax 3 times a year for tapes. This month is Equimax month, or should I try a PP? As hot as it is here, would there really be any encysted strongyles to try to kill off?

                      All of my horses are wormed at the same time and do not share pasture with other horses.
                      Last edited by Hampton Bay; May. 31, 2008, 11:55 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I like to do a power pack once a year. Also, make sure her teeth have been floated.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Hampton Bay View Post
                          I've fed the peanut before and liked it just fine. My local feed store does not carry it, but I'm sure Hay Exchange would. How much per bale is it usually? I can get the alfalfa cubes for $11 for 50lb, and no waste.

                          Something else I thought of, I did not PowerPac her this year. She was PowerPacked February about a year ago, but I didn't do it this year because the package says it has not been tested in pregnant mares, and she has been dewormed regularly. I paste worm mine monthly (vet recommended for FL), and I rotate between ivermectin, Panacur, and either TapeCare (double Strongid I think) or Equimax 3 times a year for tapes. This month is Equimax month, or should I try a PP? As hot as it is here, would there really be any encysted strongyles to try to kill off?

                          All of my horses are wormed at the same time and do not share pasture with other horses.
                          I think we paid $6.50 a bale from our local guy here. They are heavy (60lb plus) bales.

                          I would also do the PowerPac. Even here in HOT (already ) Florida they can have encysted strongyles.
                          Fox Haven Farm, Inc.
                          Home of 2002 JC Registered stallion Artrageous

                          Artrageous has his own Facebook page!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            has anyone tried a high-performance pelleted feed? I have never tried this or heard of trying it so I thought this would be a good place to ask.

                            since a lot of high-performance feeds are for horses that cant eat enough to keep weight on, why wouldnt it work for a lactating mare, other than possibly making her hot. although with a pelleted feed that shouldnt be too much of a problem.

                            as long as the cal/phos. ratio doesnt get out of balance i dont see why free feeding alfalfa cubes would be a problem, since shes not a sprint eater.
                            "Let the fence be the bit." - Phillip Dutton

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by faluut42 View Post
                              other than possibly making her hot. although with a pelleted feed that shouldnt be too much of a problem.
                              Many pelleted feeds have the same molassas content as sweet feed, just mixed into the pellet.

                              That said, I have never known a sweet feed to make a horse hot.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Is she on a good vitamin/mineral supplement? Mine is on Platinum Performance. Another good one that was suggested to me was Natural Balance 12:12 by Purina.
                                Cloverfox Stables

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  As an update, the extra alfalfa cubes, oil, Sr. feed, and some extra spring grass seems to be doing the trick. She is looking less ribby. My BO is a gem. He put up a temporary fence around a small area that has a lot of new grass just for her to graze. I am truly the luckiest boarder on earth

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