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Old 10-12-2007, 09:38 AM  
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alfalfa vs orchard grass

Hey folks
Once again,winter is coming and decisions need to be made. What are the reasons one buys alfalfa? I would assume it is for hard keepers,seniors,etc. I personally am scared to death of over-feeding it. Can you all help me with this?
Thanks!
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Old 10-12-2007, 09:42 AM  
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Alfalfa is a great feed- very high in energy. It's hard to overfeed alfalfa hay- if you're doing cubes, you have to weigh their feed because they will overeat.

Orchard grass is a lower energy feed. That means they'll eat more of it, but that's actually good- the extra bulk is good for their systems.

In CA, people buy alfalfa because it's readily available and cheap. Elsewhere people seem to dislike it- but in CA it's really common and lots of horses live on it.
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Old 10-12-2007, 09:44 AM  
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Well I give it to give my horses bloom-an odd word that just means glowing healthy coat and body. We feed it to our halter horses as it keeps them from getting a hay belly. It is full of nutrients and is actually a member of the legume[bean] family and is not a HAY per se
Hard keepers and old horses can do better with a bit of alfalfa since it is so nutrient dense thay can get all the goodies without chewing thru as much hay. Lots of reasons folks use it. It has a high protein content and so can cause a horse to piddle more as it is digested-that can be an issue in old timers.
If it worries you I would just stick with orchard grass-they can't OD on that and if all your horses are easy keepers it will do just fine.
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Old 10-12-2007, 10:05 AM  
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I prefer orchard grass. We feed several and we think it is just a better all round hay for everyone. We do occasionally feed some alfalfa in addition to the other hay for the hard keepers or weanlings. I just generally don't like the extra energy that comes with feeding only alfalfa - unless you have one that really needs the extra energy ( like a performance horse being ridden or shown hard or underweight broodmare, etc.). Also I use much more shavings when feeding alfalfa - so it will end up costing more there too. Alfalfa will give you a better "bloom" and no hay belly, but I would have horses bouncing everywhere if that was the only hay I fed. I have one stallion (he's normally very quiet and well mannered) that will act like a kid on a sugar rush if he eats even a few bites of alfalfa.
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Old 10-12-2007, 10:13 AM  
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alfalfa

Thanks ya'll! I now remember why I don't like alfalfa-THE ENERGY BOOST! I like my guys calm and quiet. But maybe I'll go for the orchard alfalfa mix?!
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Old 10-12-2007, 10:16 AM  
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Some horses get bouncy but some don't-it is high in protein and cabs have been shown to be mainly to blame in feed related insanity
You do not have to feed alfalfa exclusively. you can add it to the ration a bit at a time.
We supplement the weanlings for awhile with literally a few handfuls of the stuff twice a day and it dows make a difference.

POSTING at the same time-Yes you did not mention that-a good blend of the 2 should be great!
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Old 10-12-2007, 11:07 AM  
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We generally stick with a good quality mix. Last winter though, it was whichever we could find... Luckily this year, hay seems to be a little easier to find.

ETA: I can feed Candy Alfalfa nonstop and she doesn't get the "bouncy" but Patti does. Little Man could care less, he just likes to eat.
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Old 10-12-2007, 11:15 AM  
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Ever seen a 1300# 10 yo QTR on crack ?????? Feed him Alfalfa. (whethe it be a cube,pellets,hay, alfalfa based supplement)....Very sensitive..... My horses aren't ridden enough to be given alfalfa. I stick to all the coastal they want, plus a flake of orchard in and the am and pm. They all hold weight well, even in the Fla summer.
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Old 10-14-2007, 08:20 PM  
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Living in Southern Ca, that's all we've fed for years. Like 30 years. It's what's available and not so outrageously expensive as other hays. ($20 a bale for orchard grass). I usually also throw some Bermuda grass hay to give them something the munch on. I have always ridden TB's and I don't really feel that the alfalfa has made them high. I don't grain them though - THAT's what makes them high. Recently I've started feeding my 4 yr old OTTB a Senior Complete feed and rice bran in addition to the alfalfa to try and get some weight on her. She stays very quiet most of the time. I think alfalfa gets a bad rap.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:53 AM  
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We love alfalfa, but here it is almost impossible to get this year.. so cubes for the mares when they foal - and of course spoiled Joe...

Feeding it means that you don't have to supplement with a lot of grain either - where as even with a good orchard grass mix, it will not have enough protien in it by itself...
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Old 10-15-2007, 07:07 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luvpaints View Post
Ever seen a 1300# 10 yo QTR on crack ?????? Feed him Alfalfa. (whethe it be a cube,pellets,hay, alfalfa based supplement)....Very sensitive..... My horses aren't ridden enough to be given alfalfa. I stick to all the coastal they want, plus a flake of orchard in and the am and pm. They all hold weight well, even in the Fla summer.
Had a good laugh, as this described my 1400 pd 16 hand gelding on Alfalfa! I do feed a small handful daily as like TMOM said it gives them bloom. Nothing like that wonderful shine and healthy coat. Some have no trouble eating it, but if your horses do not need those extra calories and proteins, and your not riding enough to burn them, might just want to feed Orchard and give a handful as a treat. I mix mine with there bran and make a mash, they inhail the stuff.
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