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Discussion on New Article: Alfalfa and Legumes

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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: dro

Post Number: 21209
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 13, 2008 - 10:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Forage, a high fiber foodstuff, is the backbone of equine nutrition. There are 3 major forms of forage available to horses: legumes, grasses, and small grain hays. More than half of the hay grown in the USA are legumes, chiefly alfalfa (Medicago sativa). Other legumes forages less widely available are birdsfoot trefoil, lespedeza, soybean hay, cowpea hay, vetch, and rhizomal peanut hay. Clover, also a legume, is often found in horses pastures and grazed directly. There are many varieties of clover including alsike, white, crimson, red, ladino, and sweet clover.

Legumes are noted for their higher nutritional value than grass and small grain hays, containing more protein, calcium, energy, the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene and vitamin E. Feeding legumes can be an excellent way to balance a horse's diet especially during those times of increased needs for these nutrients like the latter phases of pregnancy, lactation, and growth. Because of it's greater energy density it can be the chief forage for hard working horses. In spite of this much misinformation on legumes prevents the full utilization of legumes or in some cases the over use of legumes. Also there are some downsides to legume use that must be considered in using legumes.

To properly use legumes as forage requires knowledge of the horses feed requirements, the legumes characteristics as a hay or pasture forage, and the ability to evaluate quality and relative cost compared to other feed stuffs. This article covers the good and the bad of legumes in a horses diet and provides links to further information on integrating legumes into your horses diet. This is the introduction to the article. To access unabridged article click here.
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Diane E.
Username: scooter

Post Number: 2647
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 13, 2008 - 6:53 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Dr.O. very informative article.

You may still be working on this, but the part on clover and alsike clover where it says more...the link is missing.

Thanks again.
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