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Discussion on Changing diet from hay to Alfalfa/Timothy cubes...

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Lanna Tucker
Member
Username: Lanna1

Post Number: 10
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, Dec 8, 2003 - 11:26 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi everyone,

I've fed alfalfa/timothy cubes as a supplement to regular feed, but I've never fed it as the sole source of forage.

Any idea what quantity should be fed when it's the only source of forage? They have full access to fresh water, salt & vitamin/mineral block. I'm feeding the alfalfa/timothy cubes in replacement of hay to one pregnant AQHA mare (due in March 2004), two APHA weanlings & a yearling APHA filly until I find out what's causing their mouth ulcers.

I'm feeding the cubes in a large feed tub they all access at the same time - they aren't separated, so it's impossible to distinguish how much each animal is consuming. They eat it until it is gone...

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated as I've always used hay as their main forage & only supplemented with cubes, oats, etc...

Thanks,

Lanna in BC
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Alden Chamberlain
Member
Username: Alden

Post Number: 36
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Monday, Dec 8, 2003 - 11:56 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Lanna,}

Iíve been feeding four horses an oat hay/alfalfa (70/30) cube for about two years now and have excellent results. If you cubes are same as ours, i.e. chopped hay, then I would feed by weight the same as hay. If you donít know the hay weight now, then use the feeding suggestions in Dr. Oís articles to begin. I have found over time Iím feeding about 20% less mostly because there isnít as much waste. Also here in the S. CA desert the horses eat less from the ground vs. hay; hopefully this reduces the amount of sand they are getting.

Having several horses eating together is difficult because you never really know who is eating what amount. Two of my horses eat together, they eat about the same amount and rate, and I use condition to adjust the amount Iím putting out.

A friend of my has several pastures with 6-8 horses in each and they feed the same cube as I. Their horses figure it out, swapping feeders often and they all stay in good condition. Another benefit with cubes is they are feeding about 40 horses and it is much easier than hauling baled hay around. They have a three wheeled vehicle and buckets for each horse.

I know some donít like cubed hay but Iíve experienced MUCH better quality and consistency than hay available here. Hope this helps.

Alden
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Susan Bilsky
Member
Username: Suzeb

Post Number: 93
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Monday, Dec 8, 2003 - 12:24 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Lanna,
I too, have to start feeding cubes to my horse, not because of mouth sores but because he is a bit heavey (respiratory). My vet advised cubes at 1Ĺ lbs per 100lbs of body weight and to introduce them slowly so as not to induce colic. That would equate to about 17lbs of cubes a day for my horse. I know that the hay quality has gone down due to drought and feed is in short supply. A lot of farmers are choosing to feed their cattle this winter until the Mad Cow Disease scare resolves. I know my guy will not be too pleased about getting cubes instead of hay, but I would rather not hear him cough or see him having trouble breathing. Hope this helps and good luck.

Susan in Sask.
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Lanna Tucker
Member
Username: Lanna1

Post Number: 11
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, Dec 8, 2003 - 1:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Alden,

I don't know what weight of hay they've been consuming as they've had free range of a round bale in a feeder - so there is little waste with that as well.

Which article were you talking about as far as feeding rations? I looked at the articles under nutrition, but there wasn't anything specifically for alfalfa/timothy cubes... Maybe I've missed something.

I've been feeding my stud alfalfa/timothy cubes combined with frisky foal/rolled oats in the evening & he can graze on his round bale (in a feeder) or paw through the snow for pasture.

He's doing very well on it, but I just guessed at the amounts. He gets a full large coffee can of the cubes, 1 full large coffee can of rolled oats & 3/4 a large coffee can of frisky foal. This is fed once/day & he's left to graze in the morning & afternoon.

There's no way that I will be able to find an alternate hay source because of the lack of hay in this area - so this might be the only option I have to feed this mare & my youngsters.

Thanks for your input, it's encouraging to know that there are others out there who have had to eliminate the hay for forage as well. I didn't realize how much I relied on my hay!!!
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Lanna Tucker
Member
Username: Lanna1

Post Number: 12
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, Dec 8, 2003 - 1:18 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Susan,

Thanks, that's great information - sounds like you're in a very similar situation as I am with feed this year! Yes, I have the mouth ulcer situation, but I'm also short on hay because of the cattle farmers hanging onto & buying up everything in site.

How do you weigh your feed? I've always used a large coffee can as a measurement tool from what my grandfather taught me when I was younger - outside of that, I'm pretty much blind!

I have my traditional feeding methods that I've used for years & have had great success with. Making this change in what I have to do is really throwing a curve ball to me so to speak!!!

17lbs of cubes/day for one adult horse seems like a heck of alot of feed - that's pretty expensive, isn't it?!?

I have a mare, yearling and two weanlings to feed!!! Yikes!

Thanks for any suggestions you have as I'm new to this experience of removing the hay source completely.
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Alden Chamberlain
Member
Username: Alden

Post Number: 37
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Monday, Dec 8, 2003 - 2:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lanna,

No, there isnít an article specifically about cubes, I just used the information in the feeding articles and substitute cubed hay for loose hay, it is still hay just packaged differently.

Something else I found interesting, Susan reminded me in her post when she said she hoped her guys would mind the switch. I had been feeding the cubed hay for about six months or so and had a case of the guiltís because several people said the horses wouldnít be satisfied on cubes alone. The short of it is I got some grass hay and fed that with the cubed hay. At first they went at it like they were starved (they are anything but starved) and the cubes went last. Three days later they could care less about the grass, to the point they werenít eating it at all, and used it mostly for padding under their delicate feet!

Looked to me to be a case of, ďlook this is new!Ē Rather than, ďThis grass is so much better!Ē syndrome. Come to think of it, I put down straw once when a gelding was stall bound and he ate a bunch of that too!

Alden
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 9585
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Dec 8, 2003 - 6:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lanna, Alden is right hay cubes are just another form of hay. There are some considerations:
  • usually the quality of the forage is very good
  • it is usually oil fire dried so without mold spores
  • it may be a touch drier

That said, the articles information about forage and hay will apply to your cubes on a equal weight basis. Start with Overview of Nutrition for specific recommendations.
DrO
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Susan Bilsky
Member
Username: Suzeb

Post Number: 94
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9, 2003 - 9:12 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lanna,

I checked out Dr.O's article about forage and hay and the cubes are the same as forage. 17lbs is about right according to the calculation and the weight of my horse. 1.5% x 1100lbs = 16.5lbs of cubes. Because I am feeding just one horse, I can use a bathroom scale with the cubes in the bucket to get my weight. You could probably do the same thing with the coffee can and then you would know how many cans of cubes the gang would get everyday spaced out over 2 or 3 feedings. I know that cubes come in 50lb bags and they also come in a larger container, but you would need a truck to bring that home. I know the cost is going to be more than baled hay, but, at least I know that cubes are clean and probably more nutritious pound for pound than baled hay.
I inquired with a company in Ontario about clean and bagged hay, but I would have to sell a kidney to have it shipped here.

Alden, you can be sure I will get a case of the guilts, and give Mr. Horse some hay. He will be allowed to go in the pasture and he is allowed to eat grass outside of his paddock. In fact, he is a very good vaccumn cleaner and does a good job of trimming the taller grass around the trees . Glad to hear your gang is doing well on the cubes and that no one appears to be starved. Here's hoping that the hay gods will be kind to us next year and that the price of good hay is still affordable.

Cheers, Susan B.
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: Mrose

Post Number: 129
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9, 2003 - 10:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Just a reminder re:cubes: You must be very careful re: the source of your cubes and make sure they are heat processed. Also, they need to be stored properly. We had a case in this area a couple of months ago where someone lost 6 mares and foals, a total of 12 horses. The vet thinks it's because they didn't store their cubes properly. They were just dumped in a pile on the ground, had been scattered around, etc. with no cover. And, at least in our area, there are still small outfits that cube hay and may not have the best equipment so temps. aren't high enough to properly cure it/dry it (whatever that equipment does) When the chopped hay isn't treated properly you can get botulisim or other bacteria and also molds.

Not to put you off from cubes. A lot of people I know feed them with good results. Just be careful where you get them and how you store them.
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Little King Ranch
Member
Username: Eoeo

Post Number: 4
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9, 2003 - 10:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

We produced cubes in the early 80s with portable field machines, now I believe most are made at a stationary site thesedays. In those days, we cubed top quality hay for ours. However, some would cube inferior hay, some that had been rained on or was bleached badly, had been allowed to mature too long and would have been quite stemmy if baled. You can tell the difference even if it is in a cube. A good quality cube, I am talking about those that are 2 or 3 inches wide and 3 or 4 inches long and can be broken apart with some effort, will have a bright even green color. Bleached hay will have cubed up into a much lighter green color or even a very dull yellowish tinge to it. If weeds were in the hay you will see small black flecks in it. Same with hay that has matured, you will see small flecks of the alfalfa bloom in them and the cut hay in them will be courser than a quality hay cube. Since they are processed under such tremendous heat there is no danger from moldy hay as the spores are killed in the processing.
Washington State University did a study in the 80s using our cubes and found that horses were able to be maintained on a smaller weight of cubes versus baled hay and of course there was NO WASTE. They had no problems with choking. It is an excellent way to feed hay if available. They can digest it more readily. EO
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Little King Ranch
Member
Username: Eoeo

Post Number: 5
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9, 2003 - 10:30 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sara is absolutely correct. You have to store them in a dry spot as they can mold on the ground or if they are subjected to rain. A cement slab with a roof over it would be ideal. You could even put out the heavy plastic and pile them on top of it so they didn't get any moisture from the ground over a period of time. EO
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Susan Bilsky
Member
Username: Suzeb

Post Number: 95
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9, 2003 - 10:45 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sara and EO,
That's great information and thanks. I will have a dry covered spot for the cube supply, now to find out who and how these cubes were made.
Susan B.
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Lanna Tucker
Member
Username: Lanna1

Post Number: 15
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9, 2003 - 10:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks everyone!

I love the idea of the bathroom scale Susan, I would have never thought of that! Everyone has been extremely helpful with this topic & I greatly appreciate it as it is unventured territory for me!

I will certainly pull out my scale tonight (a much better use for it then having to weigh myself!)

To put your minds at ease, I store the cubes in covered plastic containers that are inside my tack shed - no moisture is able to get in & lately I go through the cubes way faster than moisture has the ability to get in! Not to mention, we're in the -25 to -35 range in temperatures right now, everything is frozen stiff.

The cubes are a beautiful bright, dark green in colour and match the measurements earlier discussed. Once broken apart they have that same appearance, thanks for the tips on what to look for in the quality.

I'm pretty sure these cubes come from the plant in Lethbridge, AB and they have an excellent reputation - that's pretty scary about the 6 mares & foals!!!

My stallion has been supplemented with these brand of cubes for the past 3 years now & he is doing very well, so that's testimony in itself I'm thinking!

Thanks again for all your great ideas and suggestions! I love this site!

Lanna in BC

PS Let's hope that the hay situation is better next year!!!
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Tamara
Member
Username: Winger

Post Number: 38
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 10, 2006 - 12:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I am feeding my 29yr old mare 10pds cubes weighed dry..and some Timathy hay morning and night..But I think my mare would probably maintain her weight on approx.12 pds a day because they seem to get alot out of the cubes...she is about 900pds...
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