It is pretty common for horse owners to feed their horses at least some Alfalfa daily. If you are new to horse ownership, you might be surprised to learn that not all hay is created equal. You will likely hear other horse owners talking a lot about hay choices. This might be overwhelming or confusing. The best way to solve this problem is to do plenty of research on your own and ask a lot of questions of seasoned horse owners.
Alfalfa is a popular type of horse feed, so you will probably hear owners talk about it quite a bit. Let’s look at this amazing legume hay to see what all the fuss is about.
What Is Alfalfa?
Alfalfa is a legume hay that packs quite a nutritional punch. People who care for horses or livestock need to have hay and feed that provides the most nutritional value per pound. This helps to keep costs low and if you are growing your own feed, then it helps you make the most of your harvest.
Alfalfa is considered to be one of the most nutritionally dense types of hay. It has a high protein content as well as a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. Alfalfa contains the appropriate amount of magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron that a horse would need to stay healthy. In addition to this, it is also an excellent source of fiber. The fiber present in Alfalfa is high-quality. This means that it provides slow-release energy. This helps horses stay at a healthy weight and increases good digestion.
Should I Use Only Alfalfa?
As great as this hay sounds, you actually should not feed your horse exclusively with it. The reason is that Alfalfa has a very high protein content. If you feed a horse exclusively with Alfalfa, it is very likely that it will be ingesting too much protein. This can be harmful to the kidneys and liver.
In addition to this, most horses are not active enough to justify the calories that exclusive Alfalfa feedings would contain. This can lead to weight gain. Unhealthy weight gain can be devastating to horses as it can put undue strain on legs and joints, causing permanent damage.
How Should Alfalfa Be Used?
The best way to use Alfalfa is as a supplement. The trick to creating a healthy diet for your horse is balance. Just like with humans, too much of a good thing is still too much. You must carefully balance your horse’s diet with regular grass hay and nutrient-dense hay such as Alfalfa. This way, you can be sure that your horse is getting exactly what it needs to be happy and healthy.
There are some instances in which a horse may need higher amounts of Alfalfa. For instance, a horse that is struggling to put on weight or to maintain weight would greatly benefit from a larger percentage of its diet made up of Alfalfa.
Another instance would be when a horse is in training and is using up a larger number of calories each day.
Horses with insulin resistance seem to benefit from Alfalfa as well, because many other forms of grass hay create blood sugar issues in those with insulin resistance.
The best way to know for sure how much Alfalfa your horse should have is to speak with an equine vet. This professional will be able to help you create a customized diet that perfectly suits your animal’s needs based on weight, age, and activity level.
Should I Avoid Alfalfa?
There are some cases in which you may want to avoid the use of Alfalfa altogether. If you have an animal that has known kidney or liver conditions, this type of feed is not recommended. Alfalfa creates high levels of nitrogen excretion. This can be hard on the kidneys and liver. If the animal is already dealing with a kidney or liver problem, this could make it worse.
You should also avoid using this type of hay if your animal is already overweight. Feeding more Alfalfa could cause the animal to gain even more weight.
Alfalfa is not inherently bad. It is a nutritionally dense type of feed that benefits most horses when fed in moderation.
There are some health conditions that will worsen if an animal is fed Alfalfa.
It is vitally important that you talk with your equine vet to discuss the nutritional needs of your particular animal. Most horses will need a customized diet based on their weight, age, stage of life, and activity level.
Most horse owners find that Alfalfa is best when used as a supplement along with other forms of grass hay. If you’re looking for a reliable provider of Alfalfa, consider working with David Woods Hay Service.