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Discussion on Alfalfa cubes & hay -- are they basically the same?

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cp
Member
Username: cpacer

Post Number: 280
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2007 - 11:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

My horse Shadow has done very well on his weight gain with the addition of alfalfa hay and corn oil, but the latest bales of alfalfa I’ve gotten have been really stemmy and now he won’t eat it. I’ve tried every feed store around and it’s all the same, so I’m hesitantly switching to cubes (hesitant due to previous chokes). My question is about proportion – Are cubes measured by weight like hay, or is it more similar to feeding grain so he should get less?

I don’t want to overload his belly, he already gets 2lbs of grain at each feeding along with fescue/orchard mix hay. The barn filled an entire bucket full of soaked cubes and I was worried it was too much, but they said it’s just like feeding hay – guess I just want to confirm that and if it’s true, do alfalfa pellets fall under the same classification or are they considered grain?

Hope it isn’t too stupid of me not to know this!
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Angie J.
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 972
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2007 - 4:40 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

cp, I don't know the answer to your question, but I know it "isn't too stupid..." it's just new territory and you lack knowledge. (me too) I know nothing about alfalfa cubes but I know that most horses eat the leaves of alfalfa like candy so he just might not like the mix hay, it's too plain for him. I THINK you'd just keep the other hay in front of him, and add the cubes like a supplement as it's really concentrated.
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Ilona A
Member
Username: ilona

Post Number: 373
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2007 - 5:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have feedback on quality of cubes. Just for your information, cubes tend to be compacted inferior hay. It is common knowledge by farmers who supply for cubes that they can supply lower quality in terms of mold, weeds etc because the product cannot been seen in the same way as bales. Just a word of caution. I was actually sitting at a diner and overheard some farmers laughing about this and how unsuspecting the end-product buyers were, ie you and I. They also commented that they could never sell for bales what they do for cubes, they all seemed to think this was a great joke at the expense of the consumer. Consequently I have never purchased cubes.
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 2148
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2007 - 5:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Ilona, what you say about cubes isn't true across the board. It may be true in come instances. However, there are two types of cubes available where I live. One type is made from high grade alfalfa and the other from alfala/timothy mix. Both are clean, high quality cubes. Some of the large hay growers in our area grow for the Japanese market. They grow very high quality hay, but because bales are so bulky and difficult to deal with and ship overseas, the hay is processed into cubes. Many people feed cubes in our area with no problems. I feed cubes when at shows. There is less waste, they aren't as messy, and equal weight doesn't take up as much room in the trailer.

When getting cubes, though, you do have to make sure they are from a reputable dealer/grower. They have to be processed at the correct heat and pressure to prevent mold or bacterial growth. Cubes also have to be stored correctly. They have to be under cover and not allowed to sit on the ground...just like hay.

I feed cubes by the pound, just like I do hay, with the horses getting between 1.5 and 2 lbs of hay/cubes per 100 lbs of body weight, depending on the horse and what supplements/grain they may also be getting. With an older horse whose teeth aren't good, or with a very young horse, you can soak the cubes before feeding as it makes the a little easier to eat. I've never had a horse choke on cubes, but have had one choke on pellets.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 17603
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2007 - 6:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have not seen the low quality cubes that Ilona describes. They may exist but the cubes I have seen over the years were green and more leaf material than stemmy when broken apart and the guaranteed nutritional analysis similar to a moderate quality (around 18% protein)alfalfa hay. There are excellent alfalfa hays out there with substantially higher protein. When tested independently the analysis I have seen were also similar to moderate quality alfalfa. And concerning the mold I find horses with hay mold allergies do well on them.

If you are going to substitute cubes for hay you should do it on a weight basis.
DrO
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Carolyn A Burton
Member
Username: mcbizz

Post Number: 84
Registered: 9-2006
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2007 - 7:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have fed alfalfa cubes and alfalfa/oat hay cubes to supplement timothy or grass hay and my guys do very well with it. We do have a local processor here and I have heard he uses reject hay for his cubes, so I wouldn't consider buying from him, although his are far less costly than the brand names. I have found an occasional cube with a stone embedded, but one can't look at every cube any more than every part of a bale. Dittos on Sara's assessment of how convenient they are for shows and traveling!
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Lori
Member
Username: maggienm

Post Number: 353
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2007 - 9:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

No telling on quality of independent packagers but I buy from a couple of very reputable brands. oNe of the things I like is the consistency of the protein level.
I feed them year round, when I get a horse that is low on weight or drops weight easily I add soaked cubes and the weight issue is solved.
To me this speaks of the quality of the cubes.
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Judy Henslee
Member
Username: judyhens

Post Number: 25
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2007 - 10:47 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

We have used cubes without problem. However, we did have one young filly choke on pellets. It was extremely frightening. My guess is she loved them so much she just gulped them down. Because of that, I tend to pull apart the cubes and give them as treats, or soak them. We are having a very hard time getting good alfalfa. Lots of reprocessed compact bales coming into Texas. Over dry, doesn't hold together, and you lose a lot if the wind blows while you are trying to hand carry it to the stalls. Good time for cubes!
Judy
0 0
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cp
Member
Username: cpacer

Post Number: 281
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 - 12:45 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks for all the responses, of course upon closer reading of the “forages” article I see the specific box dedicated to answering my question! So I figured I’d check the other overview article before asking my next question, which was how many pounds of cubes would be appropriate since horses are more likely to overeat on them, and came to this conclusion

800 lb horses needs 16–24 lbs of hay, 25-50% can be cubes = 4–6 lbs of cubes (at 25%))

Can I assume that’s dry weight?

Also, people I talk to kind of crinkle their nose at my feeding alfalfa, but it’s working so I’m sticking to it. Everyone around here seems to think that Timothy is the star hay, even though it’s not local and costs around $10 a bale (same as alfalfa). I see in the article that our native grass Fescue is higher in protein and at $3 to $5 a bale, I’m wondering why everyone is so hot about Timothy over Fescue? Is there another benefit or specific time when you’d feed it (other than the fungus/pregnant mare issue with Fescue?)
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Terri
Member
Username: terrilyn

Post Number: 454
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 - 2:24 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

CP, my horses really like Fescue...but bales tend to be lighter (it's a lighter-weight grass...this may sound crazy, but it is) than Orchard or Timothy, which is what I prefer to buy simply because I get more for the money. (I currently am buying hay by the pound, which makes imminently more sense to me...getting good quality Timothy for .10 per lb.) Geez woman....aren't you just in NC? Why on earth is Timothy $10 a bale??? How big of a bale?
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Leilani Clark
Member
Username: leilani

Post Number: 198
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 - 2:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I, too feed my horses alfalfa cubes and have fed it to them all of their lives. Pearl's Feed and Garden currently carries Nutrena which is very good quality.
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cp
Member
Username: cpacer

Post Number: 282
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 - 3:21 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yep NC, don't know why it would be so much, just what I heard. Fescue is all over the place here, and is what I've planted for my pasture. People would have you believe you have to feed at least half a dozen varieties of something or rather, each making up for whatever the other is lacking instead of finding one or two that have it all. Just doesn't seem like it should be that difficult. I finally feel like I'm getting on the right track, for now.
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Terri
Member
Username: terrilyn

Post Number: 455
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 - 3:43 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Fescue is all over the place because it does well in the heat when other cool-weather grasses don't hold up. My horses like it as well as anything else! If I were you, I'd get some friends together and split a tractor-trailer load of some PA or NY hay. You're close enough that the shipping won't eat you alive. Here is a great contact to keep for future reference...though I didn't order from him this year, I have in the past, and other than the fact that bales were a bit inconsistent in size, I was very happy with the quality (comes from near Canada): elpeters@westel.com (he's probably out for this year). Nice Timothy mix, averaging $4.35 a bale (that includes delivery charges) assuming a truck holding 700 bales.
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Ilona A
Member
Username: ilona

Post Number: 377
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 - 6:32 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm glad to hear that many have had good experiences with cubes. I wish I could say the same. As with anything, the individual supplier will choose the quality of what they provide. A reputable supplier is worth their weight in gold.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 17611
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Jan 26, 2007 - 6:16 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

With a understanding of fescue toxicity that effects pregnant mares and some stands of fescue, fescue is fine forage for horses and my horses stand on it 12 to 24 hours a day. Anybody who would pay $10 a bale for timothy when good quality fescue is available at 1/3 the cost has either late term pregnant mares or lacks good sense. Interestingly this is a case where cattle are more sensitive to a problem than horses as heavily infected stands of fescue cause decrease weight gain, heat intolerance, and founder in cattle. These problems are not reported in well managed horses. There may be a very mild effect of digesibility of feed but this finding is equivocal.

Concerning fescue being lighter, Terri I am not aware of any difference in density than other cool season grasses and I have done my share of putting up fescue, orchardgrass, and timothy. The weight of the bales is effected by size of the bale, how tightly it is baled, and water content of the hay.
DrO
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Terri
Member
Username: terrilyn

Post Number: 456
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Friday, Jan 26, 2007 - 9:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yeah, Dr. O....didn't think you'd let me get away with that one. I should have been more specific. My local hay guy's Fescue yield for this past year looked great, smelled great, and was a lovely green color. However, though he uses same baling process (tightness, size, etc.)for ALL his hay, the Fescue had less water content than his Orchard grass when baled. Which made the yield for the Fescue cuttings about 5 lbs lighter per bale than the other. I'm sure that doesn't happen every time, but in this case, there was enough of a difference to make the Orchard a better buy at the same amount per bale ($4.50).
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Lori
Member
Username: maggienm

Post Number: 355
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Friday, Jan 26, 2007 - 10:16 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

cp I am just wondering about the quantity you are suggesting.
When I do the math 2.5% of 800lbs is 20lbs. If I understand the article correctly this is about a maximum suggestion if the horse is only getting hay. If supplements are also fed less hay may be needed.
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Pam Faubus
New Member
Username: simba3

Post Number: 1
Registered: 11-2007
Posted on Saturday, Nov 3, 2007 - 1:42 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

My sister has a quarter horse that has rotation from
laminitis but has not taken the horse off alfalfa. My understanding that a horse like this should be on
a grass hay (timothy). Is it because of alfalfa's potentially high amount of protein? She told me her vet never told her to. Why would this be? My vet tells people with laminitis and Cushings to stop feeding alfalfa altogether. What is your opinion?
Thanks,
Pam
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 19473
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Nov 3, 2007 - 7:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Pam,
Rather than placing your post at the bottom of another's post, you should "Start a New Discussion" to post your problem. You will receive quicker and more responses that way.

A good topic for your post would be " Horse Care » Equine Nutrition, Horse Feeds, Feeding »
Forages for Horses, an Overview
". Check out the article if you have not yet as it addresses some of your concerns. If you still have questions you might see if some of the other discussions answer your question. If not, you will find under the article and list of already present discussions a "Start New Discussion" button. For more on this see Help & Information » Posting Guidelines or where did my post go?.
DrO
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Diane Baker-Hallowell
Member
Username: majoda92

Post Number: 15
Registered: 3-2007
Posted on Saturday, Nov 3, 2007 - 8:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi All, hay here in the northeast is getting really expensive and hard to find. My hay man told me yesterday its because many hay growers are now switching their hay acreage to corn and soybeans for the ethanol! The weather didn't help much this year either, very dry. Anyway, I am also using soaked Alfalfa cubes to supplement the hay. Haven't had any problems with it so far. I also use some of the timothy hay pellets for the horses that don't tolerate the alfalfa well. Any other suggestions for getting through this awful hay shortage?
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 548
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Saturday, Nov 3, 2007 - 6:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The bagged grass forages are good, and for horses that cannot handle carbohydrates well (and laminitic types) Triple Crown Safe Starch grass forage is exceptional. It is western Timothy hay harvested at a time when the carbohydrates are at a safe stage of growth and there are pellets in the forage as well, so you do not need to feed additional grain. It is very digestible so readily utilized nutrition, and I have found it helpful to avoid some of those winter time colics.
It is expensive, but in some cases worth the price. They also sell alfalfa grass forage and Timothy grass forage. I have used some of these products (and used the Safe Starch Grass forage along with my coastal hay last winter) to supplement and stretch out my supply of hay. I've also used their T & A cubes sometimes as a hay substitute.
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