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Discussion on Weanling who doesn't like alfalfa or concentrate!!??

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Cynthia A. Nielsen
Member
Username: Wolfydoc

Post Number: 66
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, Oct 24, 2005 - 8:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

How could it be that my 5-month-old Walker weanling prefers grass hay over both alfalfa and even his concentrate??!! From reading this article, and from the behavior of my adult horses, he should be chowing the alfalfa & concentrate!

He was pasture raised, but was also being fed Nutrena Safe Choice mixed with wet COB when I got him. Presumably he wasn't thrilled with the Nutrena straight, so the owner added the sweet feed to enhance palatability. He readily ate my grass hay, but will only eat the alfalfa if it's the only thing left. Same with the concentrate. I slowly switched to Purina Omolene 300 Growth, since it already has sweet feed mixed in but I figured it was a better choice since the overall protein content is more appropriate than halfing the Nutrena with wet COB. Still, he'll eat it reluctantly only after eating his grass hay, which I have to limit or else he'll just eat it alone. I'm really worried because this foal was already underweight when I got him. I dewormed him when I got him home, and will continue as recommended on this site.

Has anyone had this problem before? Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Cindy
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Imogen Bertin
Member
Username: Imogen

Post Number: 722
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2005 - 2:01 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I couldn't get mine to alfalfa at all unless it was wetted, same with pellets. Usual story, introduce gradually and they get used to it. I still have put some sweet feed in as well, she has a molasses tooth like her mother...

All the best

Imogen
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Cynthia A. Nielsen
Member
Username: Wolfydoc

Post Number: 67
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, Oct 28, 2005 - 12:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Imogen,

I guess my main worry is that if I fed him grass hay free choice, he would never touch the alfalfa or Omolene, and his calcium and protein needs wouldn't be satisfied. So I've been giving him equal amounts of grass and alfalfa three times a day, with the alfalfa totaling what this article recommends. He eats the grass first, waits a while, and then will eat the alfalfa and concentrate when he realizes he's hungry and nothing else is coming.

DrO, does that sound reasonable to you? This is a medium-boned Walker foal, who I would guess (and it's a wild one at best!) will eventually be 900-1000 lbs. at most. Right now he's consuming about 8-9 lbs. of hay per day (50/50 alf./grass, at a minimum "good" quality, if not excellent as far as the grass) and about 5 lbs. of Omolene 300. My vet guessed his weight at about 400-450 lbs. which is a bit underweight for his frame, but he's really furry and we all know how accurate our guesses at weight can be. Especially in this neck of the woods where most horses are Quarter horses with WAY more muscling than Walkers. Anywho, I'm just concerned about screwing up his diet and causing problems, as this is my first baby.

Thanks,
Cindy
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 13996
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Oct 28, 2005 - 7:35 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I am not concerned about his weight but his condition Cynthia, what would you grade him using the guidelines at Care for Horses » Particular Situations & Procedures » Weight, Condition, and Eventual Height Estimation.
DrO
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Cynthia A. Nielsen
Member
Username: Wolfydoc

Post Number: 68
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 - 12:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

DrO,
I would say a 2 bordering on 3 maybe. He's got a super thick heavy winter coat on already but you could "see" ribs through it! You could feel backbone, vertebrae in the neck, and shoulder bones easily, but interestingly the pin bones were not prominent. I myself like my own adult horses on the thin side and my friends think I keep them underfed, but even in my opinion this foal was too thin.

Even now that we've had him more than two weeks, he still doesn't like alfalfa, and I have to work at getting him to finish his allotted daily amount. My friends tell me to just give him what he wants (more grass hay) and that "he knows best" but that goes against my instincts, because I know for sure he would just eat the grass and ignore the alfalfa. Since I first posted, he has picked up interest in the Omolene, to the point that he is eating what I think he should be based on your article's recommendation and his condition. But the alfalfa he will not eat until he runs out of the grass and Omolene and I hold off giving him anything more.

He has gained weight nicely since he's been here and I'm not so worried anymore about him being underweight, just worried that he will throw off his Ca/P balance and protein needs if I feed him grass completely free choice.
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Holly Wood
Member
Username: Hwood

Post Number: 812
Registered: 3-2001
Posted on Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 - 1:06 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Have other folks found that their horses prefer hay over alfalfa? We fed a blue grass/alfalfa mix and the horses DOVE for the alfalfa everytime. They would pic the leafy alfalfa out first and leave the hay for last. If I broke into a bale that was lighter on the alfalfa content, the horses always looked at me as if to say, "So? . . . When are you gonna throw us the GOOD stuff."
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Ann
Member
Username: Dres

Post Number: 645
Registered: 10-2000
Posted on Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 - 10:03 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Is your omelene product a complete feed..? If not maybe you can introduce one that is and then you won't have to worry so much about the balance...
On the first day God created horses, on the second day he painted them with SPOTS..
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 14011
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 - 11:31 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Cynthia if he is gaining condition on the current diet it sounds like just a bit more patience and things will be fine. I am not sure withholding hay is required here however since you describe it as good to excellent. Though we discuss percentages it is really the total amount consumed that is important and when discussing Ca/P the balance of the 2 minerals. Though the grass is at the low end of the recommended percentage, he can make it up with quanity and the balance in grass is good. You have to remember horses evolved to eat grass. Just a little alfalfa will give you the boost you need.
DrO
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Cynthia A. Nielsen
Member
Username: Wolfydoc

Post Number: 69
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 - 11:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks all for the replies. DrO, your advice makes sense. I feel a lot better!

Ann, no the Omolene is considered a "sweet feed" but supposedly supplies all the vitamins necessary. But it is supposed to be fed alongside pasture or hay. I chose it instead of a "complete" feed because it was more likely to be palatable to this picky foal. And he definitely does prefer it to the Nutrena complete feed he was on. Also, I have such nice hay already in the barn, I would rather have the foal munch on this nonprocessed more "natural" form of grass than a pellet. Just my weirdness. I like hay from a bale rather than a bag I guess. More chewing needed too, which I think is a good thing.

Holly, yes it is hard to believe for me too but honestly this foal does NOT really relish alfalfa at all!! I think he'll be fine though since he is eating what now sounds like an acceptable amount.

Thanks again all. I'll sleep better now!

cindy
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Cynthia A. Nielsen
Member
Username: Wolfydoc

Post Number: 70
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, Nov 10, 2005 - 11:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

HI everyone,

Here's an interesting update on my weanling - he LOVES alfalfa cubes! I don't give them to him as is, but rather I soak them in water until they are broken down and easy to eat. But he did try to eat one whole/dry when I first offered it just to see if it was palatable to him, so something about the hay is not appealing whereas the cubes, soaked or not, are very yummy in his opinion. I don't get it, but regardless of explanation my "problem" is solved. This might help the many millions of other horses out there who won't eat alfalfa hay
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