Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Alfalfa Addict

Lostine is an alfalfa addict. Her previous owner fed her straight alfalfa. I switched her over to an alfalfa/grass mix. I found that alfalfa made my horses too hot and Lostine had a suspicious number of bouts with colic. However, straight grass couldn't keep the weight on my horses unless I made it available 24/7, so I settled for a mix.

The first thing Lostine does when she is given a flake of hay is she rolls it with her nose to shake all the alfalfa out, and then picks up the little pieces with her lips. When nothing is left but grass, she chases another horse away from its flake and helps herself to the alfalfa in that one. Eventually, when all the alfalfa is gone, she puts up with eating the grass.

Her alfalfa addiction is apparent in the photos below. I know of hamsters and rats that climb into their food dishes, but a horse?

Hey, one hoof is in. You may as well get both hooves in so that you can reach that tiny flake of alfalfa.

One of Lostine's nicknames is Miss Piggy.


Callie said...

I have to put my water troughs up on cement blocks to keep Misty from swimming!

Twinville said...

Oh silly Lostine! What a sweetie!

Baby Doll is an alfalfa addict, too. We want to change her over to grass hay, too. But it's hard to come by in our area.
We just found a few bales of grass/alfalfa mis today. So far she does what Lostine does, eats the 'chocolate chips' first and then eats the 'bran'. hahah!

Do you notice a difference in their behavior when your horses don't eat alfalfa?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Callie - So, Misty is a swimmer, eh? I'll bet she does well on trails with streams... unless she wants to roll in water. Gabbrielle likes to blow bubbles in the water trough.

Twinville - I only had them on straight grass for a short while, and that was years ago, but they did seem more relaxed, less snorty and excitable. With the mix, they seem to do well with only a treat of grain once a week or so, but with straight grass I felt like I had to feed grain everyday to help keep the weight on. Depending on what grain you feed, that can add energy and excitability as well. Because Lostine is 20 and her ribs are starting to show on the top, I'm introducing her to Senior Equine a little bit at a time. Eventually, I'll be serving it to her every day.

Pony Girl said...

Too cute!
I just switched My Boy to an orchard grass a few weeks ago. I feel better giving it to him because it's not so rich, the alfalfa always made him so gasey. He is also given a daily supplement (looks like grain, but is not grain) to meet the rest of his nutritional needs. I also hand-graze him frequently. I am hoping the grass helps him get to a better weight, he came through the spring a tad on the heavy side!

IamRockinhorse said...

My vet recommends grass but as Twinville says, it's hard to come by. I am concerned that they will lose weight as my Annie tends to be on the lean side and Nadia is no spring chicken. Also, the cost is so prohibitive, $10-11+ a bale while alfalfa is $7-9+ a bale. I feed a bale a day now and I keep reading that they require more with grass. Ideally, I will be able to feed an alfalfa-grass mix. Also, what about types of grass? I've heard Fescue is bad. I'm looking for Timothy or Orchard, Is that the best?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

pony girl - It sounds like you are on top of it. I think your new tactic will be successful.

iamrockin - Our pasture is two different hybrids of Fescue. I remember my hay farmer recommending that I mix some Orchard in, but we never got around to it. I later found out that Fescue can cause problems with pregnant mares, and I panicked (even though none of my mares are pregnant). I found a website that claims to sell Fescue seed that does not get the Endophye fungus, which is what causes the toxicity in horses:

A lot of hay farmers in my area do sell Timothy and Orchard. Since you have a pregnant mare, you will probably want to avoid Fescue.