At the same time, p… Fact: Alfalfa is no more likely to cause an allergic reaction than any other type of hay. It was one of the first domesticated forages, planted and harvested in what is now Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan several thousand years ago. Blister beetles feed on alfalfa blossoms and might swarm fields during harvest. “Alfalfa producers who market hay for horses are aware of the issue of blister beetles,” he says. What Hay Growers Should Know 4. Horses require trace minerals to combat skeletal distress and help in the bone development of young growing horses. To determine if alfalfa hay fits into your feeding program, consult with an equine nutritionist. You should begin to … Offering alfalfa hay to these horses, especially in regions where there is an appreciable price difference in grass and alfalfa hay, would be unnecessary. This can offer some cost savings if you also have horses that do fine on the less-nutrient-dense hay. “I currently have 30 acres of alfalfa that need to be torn up.” – Brady Smith. Also well-suited to younger animals or those with greater protein needs. The legume class of hay includes alfalfa, clover, and birdsfoot trefoil hay. To successfully grow alfalfa, you need to commit to a regular scouting program. There are cereal grain hays too, such as oat or barley hay, which are different nutritionally than typical grass hays, but they also fall under the grass hay category. I've listed four of the most common mistakes I see new alfalfa producers make. Forage legumes, such as clover and alfalfa, are members of the pea family and, so, are cousins of peanuts and garbanzo beans. For horses, alfalfa and clover are the two legume hays that are most commonly fed. When Alfalfa is fed to horses along with a diet of Timothy hay, they will receive many of the nutrients required and all of the fiber needed to build the base of a strong nutritional program. “It can also be beneficial to horses with muscle problems that are prone to ­tying-up (due to their increased protein needs) or horses with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) due to the lower amount of nonstructural carbohydrates,” says Martinson. It can be detrimental, however, to horses with impaired kidneys or liver. Once established, alfalfa is hardy and will grow with relative ease. This should be done 6 months or more prior to the expected planting date to ensure that added amendments have significant time to react with soil. When feeding alfalfa, there is a difference between alfalfa cubes, bales and pellets. For instance, a horse that’s overweight and insulin resistant needs a lower-sugar hay (the alfalfa), says Martinson, but not the additional calories, “So we often end up doing a mix where those horses receive some legume and search for a low-sugar grass hay to mix with it.”. types of hay for horses – Legume Hay. “In California there are many cutting, reining, and other performance horses that eat a lot of alfalfa hay (due to its wide availability) and balancer pellets, and that’s their entire diet and they do fine.”. “With growing horses, however, use caution in amount fed, simply so they don’t grow too quickly or get too big too fast and become at risk for DOD (developmental orthopedic disease),” Martinson says. Harvesting of alfalfa hay typically occurs approximately 60 days after germination with a spring sowing. That is a topic for a whole article. 1. Generally, the same paddock (partitioned division of a field) should not be grazed more than four days in a row, though this can vary depending on the size of the paddock and number of animals. For small square bales, a moisture content of around 20 percent or less is fine, but for large square and round bales, the moisture content will need to be lower—as little as 15 percent. Since it’s less nutrient-dense than legume hay, horses have to eat more grass hay to fill their bellies, which makes grass hay a good tool for keeping a stall-bound horse from getting bored. Alfalfa is more nutrient-dense than grass hays harvested at the same stage of maturity. Try keeping the hay or pasture mixture about 50-50 grass and legume to avoid feeding too much straight legume to horses. Whatever your alfalfa experience, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about this forage, starting with a little bit of history, and clear up any confusion about it. Good pasture alone is sufficient to meet all of the nutritional requirements for many classes of horses. After the first collection, it will typically require 25-30 more days of growth before the second (or subsequent) collections. It is generally recommended to create and maintain 6-8 or more paddocks that can be rotated to allow enough time for regrowth between grazings. Alfalfa stands can be depleted unless rotational grazing is practiced. Poisonous weeds that sometimes grow in alfalfa fields include ragwort, groundsels, Johnson grass, Sudangrass, water hemlock, and hoary alyssum. Benefits: Grass hay is lower in protein and energy than legume hay — but it’s also higher in fiber, which can make it a good choice for many horses. Alfalfa (/ æ l ˈ f æ l f ə /), also called lucerne and called Medicago sativa in binomial nomenclature, is a perennial flowering plant in the legume family Fabaceae.It is cultivated as an important forage crop in many countries around the world. Fact: Grass hays can be high in potassium too. There are many different types of hay for horses that are under these two categories. A well-prepared seedbed is essential to healthy alfalfa plants. We know that for horses sensitive to sugar or carbohydrates (e.g., horses with insulin resistance, pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, etc. This can cause horses to become bored and lead to increased wood chewing. These horses are particularly sensitive to alfalfa’s high potassium content. As are peanuts, and all are members of the pea family. Alfalfa Hay. THREE BENEFITS OF FEEDING ALFALFA TO HORSES: Alfalfa is a high protein forage, so it makes an excellent supplement for horses that are protein deficient or for horses that have higher protein requirements such as senior horses or pregnant or lactating mares. Arid or excessively dry locations or conditions soil of its nitrogen and legume hays that are under these two.... 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