omegabulldogs avatar image

Amy: horse question

I am thinking of switching Demmy to alfalfa cubes. He has always been fed baled alfalfa but getting the bales has become a problem. A neighbor has picked up the bales for us in the past but he is no longer available. We don't have a truck so my husband has been hauling them in the back of our van--very messy, can only haul 3 at a time. Plus the alfalfa lately has been pretty crummy and a lot gets wasted when the wind blows. Have you ever fed cubes? I know the amount to feed is pretty much the same as baled hay (except less waste so actual amount put out could end up less) but does a horse have trouble switching over and does it need to be gradual? The info you have given me in the past has been very helpful so I feel sure you are the person to go to about this. Thanks, Miriam

AmyandSophia's picture

Hi Miriam....

Yes, I feed alfalfa cubes at times. I buy the mini cubes (Tractor Supply or a local feed store should carry them). Soak them well!!! I take about a scoop and a half (feed scoop), and soak in warm water for at least 20 minutes. You can make a day's worth if you feed twice daily. Mash it well, making sure the cubes are all broken down before you feed or you could wind up with a choke situation. Feed in a pan or bucket.

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Amy and Sophia

Deb and MacKenzie and Ester's picture

I'll add to this ... make sure

you get good quality cubes, that they aren't dusty/dirty.

Interesting Amy, years ago I had one horse that I fed cubes to because I had a terrible time getting weight on her. She would play in her hay, drag it out of the feeder and pee and poop on it. But she would eat cubes, pellets, grain, so that is what she got. I never soaked the cubes.

AmyandSophia's picture

Good thought about the dust...

I had a TB gelding that died from a secondary issue caused by a bad choke on an alfalfa pellet (years ago, when pellets were big). Since then I only soak cubes, I won't feed them dry. Lots of people do, but my preference is to soak them. Also with my old guy, he can't chew them whole and dry, they have to be soaked, so I just soak them for everyone.

I do feed alfalfa cubes to put weight on in the winter if I think they need it. I also make hot mash on very cold nights with soaked cubes:-)

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Amy and Sophia

omegabulldogs's picture

Choking

Thanks Amy and Deb for the advice. Amy--now you have me worried. I, of course, would hate to have him choke on a cube but I am not sure he will eat them wet. I know when it rains and his hay gets wet he won't eat it. Just leaves the wet soggy mess in his feeder or on the ground. He doesn't bolt down his food--in fact he is a leisurely eater. His teeth were just floated a month ago so he is not having any problems chewing. Maybe I will buy one bag to try and sit and watch him eat. Thanks

AmyandSophia's picture

If you are concerned...

You can watch him a few times to make sure he isn't having any issues chewing/swallowing them. I am overly cautious with my herd, I didn't mean to frighten you though! I don't have great grass usually, so I feed twice daily. I am feeding Purina Healthy Edge to most of my herd, and they look fantastic on it. With 18 horses, buying hay for daily consumption is not feasible year round, so I supplement with the feed. I feed hay to my stalled horses, but they are only overnight stalled and they get a flake to keep them until morning. 

I have the same issue with my horses and hay in the stall or even outdoors. They poop and pee on it, lay in it, etc. I minimize the amount I give them, they are more likely to eat it if they know there isn't an unlimited supply! I give one flake the the stall horses, if I give two it goes completely to waste. 

Is the alfalfa going to be used to increase weight? I have better solutions, but only if he is getting enough on pasture to sustain his need for roughage. Corn/vegetable oil, black oil sunflower seeds, or rice bran are the top 3 recommended weight builders I know of. Beet Pulp is on the list, but I hate it because I have to soak it and it takes forever and is messy. I am currently giving several of my horses (brood mares) vegetable oil on their feed daily to maintain their weight while foals are nursing. I give 1 cup a day, just pour it over their feed and mix it up. I have also very successfully used Nutrena Empower as a weight builder, and again the amount would be one cup per feeding. I have also very successfully used black oil sunflower seeds to add weight. My horses love them! I start slowly with about 1/4 cup, then move up to a cup once a day in feed. They love the "treat", and get very lovely coats and weight gain. Also good for hooves and skin. 

Let me know if I can help in any other way.  I have a plethora of issues with some of my horses and always focus on keeping weight on so the other issues are not exacerbated. I know lots of good tricks to putting weight on even the thinnest of horses:-)

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Amy and Sophia

AmyandSophia's picture

And one other thing....

Can you get Bermuda more easily than alfalfa? Or another type of hay? What breed is your guy? I don't remember. Is he stalled? Pastured 24/7? I dont' recall!! I would try finding another source for hay if you can, rather than relying on the cubes to get his hay requirements met. Just me...I prefer to get roughage from other sources.

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Amy and Sophia

omegabulldogs's picture

Amy, I appreciate your

Amy, I appreciate your response. Demmy is a Peruvian Paso. Here's a picture (he was a little dirty.) He is now 14 and I have had him almost 10 years. I think his weight is now good (vet said he was in great condition.) I have no trouble getting hay (alfalfa) just hauling it is a pain with no truck and he wastes so much. I feed more by weight than by flakes--about 10 pounds AM and PM but if the flakes are hard to separate I might feed a little heavier in AM and lighter in PM. I also feed a 12/8 pelleted "grain".  He is kept in a pipe corral so no grazing (our property is not fenced.) I think what I am going to try is alfalfa cubes twice/day but every other day or so (if it is not windy) give him a flake of grass hay (coastal) to "graze". I will watch his weight and go from there. I just had his hooves done today. This farrier used a power grinder/sander instead of a hand file after clipping off the long hoof. I wasn't real sure about it but was surprised that it did a real quick, neat job. I was also surprised my horse allowed it because I have had trouble using electric clippers to clean the long feathers off his legs and he won't let me use clippers to do a bridle path. I am kind of old school but decided if we can use electric grinder on our dog's toe nails then why not on horses hooves? Now if I could just find someone to ride him for a few times. He hasn't been ridden in over 2 years so I am a little hesitant--I am not so young and my balance is not as great as it use to be. Plus no health insurance for me. My husband says if I go off and break an arm or leg he'll have to shoot me--can't afford the Dr. bill (he might have been serious.) 

AmyandSophia's picture

He is in nice shape:-) Look at that face...

A really pretty boy:-) 

Wish I lived near you, I would be glad to do some wet blankets for you. I have several that need them a well and with the weather being nice, I am riding a lot more daily. I never heard back from my friend I mentioned, but I think there is a Peruvian Paso board, and I will get that information for you. 

Sounds like you have your feed routine going pretty well. Have you considered feeding a stand alone type feed that is good in the case of no available pasture? I have fed some out before, seems to do fine for my guys. I know Blue Bonnet has several stand alone varieties, and I think possibly Nutrena does as well. Could be a good idea for your situation....just a thought...

Have a good day!

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Amy and Sophia

omegabulldogs's picture

Stand alone feed?

What is a stand alone feed? I have never heard of this. And thank you--he does have a pretty face. This view doesn't show it but he has a very long mane and tail. On the move he is very flashy. If you aren't familiar with Peruvians they have a very high stepping, swimming motion in front. Extremely smooth. There is a competition where the rider holds a glass filled to the brim with champagne and rides in gait as fast as possible around the arena. The one with the most champagne still in the glass wins. I, too, wish you lived near. I would ride a lot if I had someone to ride with.

AmyandSophia's picture

Also called "Complete" feed.

These stand alone, or complete feeds, have roughage in them. No hay or pasture required. Look up Blue Bonnet Equine feeds and look at teh Intennsify line. It has several feeds that do not require pasture or hay to be fed. You would have to feed a larger amount of the stand alone without hay, but it can certainly be done. I have fed several of their line of feed but with 18 horses the cost is currently prohibitive. I feed a less expensive but very good feed, Purina Strategy Healthy Edge. 

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Amy and Sophia

omegabulldogs's picture

Complete feeds

Hadn't considered this. However, there are no feed stores within a reasonable distance that carry Bluebonnet. Purina is available. I think, though, that I wouldn't feel comfortable not feeding some hay occasionally. Horses are grazers and I would want him to have something on the ground to nibble on. I think I am going to go with cubes and provide a flake of coastal a few times a week for "grazing". Will still have to haul hay in the van but not as much or as frequent and coastal is much cheaper here than alfalfa.

AmyandSophia's picture

Good plan:-)

Complete feeds are generally for those horse in competition or have no other forage àvailable....sounds like you have a good plan though. You could buy a hay bag so your van doesn't get as messy. I used to have to haul bales in my Jeep Liberty!!! Could fit 5 in the back, but what a mess!! Wish I had thought about hay bags then!

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Amy and Sophia