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Discussion on Alfalfa Only Diet 3?

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dina
Member
Username: Paix

Post Number: 25
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Mar 23, 2004 - 1:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi DrO...Everyone,

I have two boys: One 24y/o QH gelding (Salem) and one 20 month old Andalusian stallion (Bello). They both get straight alfalfa hay + a couple Supps once a day.

Two Vets have said that Salem should be off alfalfa completely, a third said he should at least be on half & half (less Alfalfa plus Oat or Timothy)

I have tried the suggestions from Vets and other professionals over the past few years. He will not eat grass or oat or mixed oat hay. Especially if its half & half - he just leaves anything but Alfalfa. He is quite stubborn abt it and will go weeks only eating the "half ration" Alfalfa.

He wins! I want him to eat.

He is an Xtr Large QH: 16h, lrg boned and lg hind quarters - wears Draft size halter. He gets about 10-12 Lbs Alfalfa AM & again PM (hand measured weight). There is usually a small bit left before each feeding (mostly stems).

Once a day he gets supps: 5 cups Nutrena Sr Feed, 4 cups soaked shredded Beet Pulp, Probios (as directed ~1/2 teaspoon) and ~1/2cup Corn Oil (eye measured).

He is stalled in a 12X24, but gets out to run and play with his buddy (Bello), at least a few hours every day plus I ride him a once or twice a week. I used to ride him 4 or 5 times a week (Im a trainer and he is a great pony horse!).

For good reason, I ride less. I am 5 mos pregnant and dont have the same stamina, for now... Ah, I get so exhausted after just getting their supps together and simple grooming! =O)

I have had Salem 13 years. When I got him, he was on straight alfalfa. I kept him on that (no supps) until he was 18 and I started adding once a day ~4 cups Beet Pulp and ~1/2 cup Corn Oil and then addded the Nutrena and Probios when he was 21.

He has never colicked in 13 years and as far as I know, never colicked before I got him (I am the second owner).

I started him on the supps so I could feed less alfalfa and he is quite astute about what his body needs - he wont finish things if he is "done." He will even leave the fun supps if he is "done." He is a slow eater - not a "bolter" at all.

Pls, DrO, how serious is it that he be off all alfalfa? I grew up with horses and my dad fed only alfalfa and never any supps (as did the neighbors and people we knew). Our personal horses lived long lives (33, 35, 39 & 41). Once we stopped riding them, they went to a 40+ acre pasture to live out the rest of their days with other horses.

The pasture was replete with grass - but once a day - the care taker still put out plenty of alfalfa flakes and they all came from their spots to nibble the goodies.

None of the horses I grew up with colicked. Maybe I was just very lucky to have such healthy horses around me?

Salem is very healthy and even his teeth (checked every year) never needed work until last year when he started developing a couple small "points" in the back.

I really want him to live forever... well, until his time comes, naturally. He is such a complete joy! I dont see the need for changing anything if he is doing so well. I know quite a few people whose older horses still eat straight alfalfa. Even a couple people who have horses too old to ride.

I guess, because of reading so much, the three Vets recommendations over the past few years and seeing other people "gasp!" that I still feed Salem Alfalfa, Im always questioning his feed.

He looks great, has lots of energy, never a lame step and has never been sick.

Am I really taking a huge risk by not forcing Oat or Timothy instead? He is so unhappy with that hay.

If he stays on Alfalfa, should I be adding a small amt of Bran daily? Or the monthly Psyllium? (Bran and/or Psyllium were suggested by friends).

Always wondering if Im doing the best for him.

Thanks for listening to such a long post.







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Sandra Ross
Member
Username: Sross

Post Number: 88
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Mar 23, 2004 - 5:53 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

If your 24 year old "looks great, has lots of energy, never a lame step and has never been sick" in the 13 years that you've owned him, I wouldn't change a thing.
I wish I could say the same thing about the 10 year old that I've had 2 years!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10203
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Apr 5, 2004 - 8:56 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I agree with Sandra, if the horses look healthy and are in a moderately good condition you are probably fine. However I have 2 concerns from your post. First, your post suggests that your horse may be obese. Second I do have a concern that you feed 2 calcium rich foods (alfalfa and beet pulp) and one phosphorous deficient feed. I would substitute 2 cups bran for 2 of the cups of beet pulp and evaluate the condition of the horse and if obese decrease the energy in the diet. For more on both of these concerns see:
  • Care for Horses Nutrition Forages for Horses, an Overview
  • Care for Horses Routine Care & Procedures Weight, Condition, and Eventual Height Estimation

DrO
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Dr. L.S. Goodenday
New Member
Username: Buenosdi

Post Number: 1
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 20, 2004 - 12:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Dr. O:
Growing up in Arizona half a century ago, our horses were out on alfalfa fields or received alfalfa hay only, no supplements, no grains. It would seem this diet would be deficient in phosphorus, but the horses always seemed to thrive- no kidney or growth problems, and lived long lives. What might have been different then compared to now? Could we still get away with this today in that location?
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10309
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Apr 21, 2004 - 6:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello DrG,
Why do you think this diet deficient? Alfalfa contains appx 0.3% P which is adequate. While the Ca / P ratio is high at around 4 this falls within the acceptable limits.
DrO
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dina
Member
Username: Paix

Post Number: 29
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Apr 28, 2004 - 1:27 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks DrO.

I lowered beet pulp and added bran - I dont believe Salem is obese - He is just a big guy.

When I have vet checks, I ask about weight (among other things) and the opinion I have gotten over the years is that he is not overweight, just a large boned fella.

Salem and Bello are doing great with the small change in their diet - seem to have both adapted well.

Winter coats are gone and they both look fabulous and healthy - Im so lucky!

Thanks for the feedback!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10353
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Apr 29, 2004 - 7:41 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Rereading my post from April 5th I see that DrG thought I was talking about the alfalfa when I said one of your foodstuffs was P deficient. It is the beet pulp as you seem to realize from your post above.
DrO
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Dr. L.S. Goodenday
Member
Username: Buenosdi

Post Number: 2
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Wednesday, May 5, 2004 - 4:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Dr. O:
Thanks for your reply. If we continue with alfalfa-only, should we offer free-choice minerals? It seems hard to find phosphorus without calcium.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10393
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 7:28 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

As we cover in the article Overview of Nutrition, we recommend a trace mineral block in all cases but this will not help the P, for more on this see Care for Horses Nutrition Minerals and Nutrition. For more information on the calcium issue including a way to add P without Ca back to the diet see the article Care for Horses Nutrition Calcium, Phosphorus in the Diet.
DrO
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Lisa O'Brien
Member
Username: Lisao

Post Number: 55
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Sunday, Feb 5, 2006 - 8:56 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm tacking onto this old thread because it's as close as I could find to my situation. Help! I keep my horses on pasture and free-choice Coastal bermuda hay plus a small amount of 14% pellets. I have horses in beautiful shape and so far have never had a colic or any other health problem attributable to my feeding program. This year though, we had a huge drought and now I'm rapidly running out of bermuda hay and can't find any more. I have been able to locate alfalfa hay. Can I switch? If so, how much alfalfa should I give these guys (weanlings through adults) and how slowly should I transition them? Should I take them off their 14% altogether during this time? We won't expect any hay cuttings until late May and our pastures start to green up in March (provided we get rain).
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 14702
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Feb 6, 2006 - 8:20 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Lisa,
Instead of interrupting dina's discussion you should back up one page to the article page and if you have not read the article and if you don't find the answer to your question post a new discussion, the button in on the article page. THere is a lot of information there on the difference between alfalfa and bermuda, substitutes for when baled hay is low, and how to change forages.

To back up one page go to the navigation bar at the top of this frame and click on the link preceeding the title to this page. That links title is » Forages for Horses, an Overview ».
DrO
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