Everyone who has any interest in horses wants to know what the best horse feed is. But there are plenty of opinions as to which is the best and, in a way, you and your horse have got to discover the best one for yourselves.
For some time now, quite a few people have been putting hay, and more particularly alfalfa hay up on the pedestal as the best equine feed a horse can get.
On one side, you have those who believe (with a lot of justification) that hay of this sort is the most easily absorbed and the best for the horse. Then, there are the naysayers who believe that it’s worthless enough as a feed and that the horse needs more.
The truth is that every horse needs a balanced diet. Whether you’re talking about a performance horse or senior horse feed, a balanced diet doesn’t consists of eating hay all day long, no matter how good it is and how easily the horse can absorb it into his blood stream. So, give your horse a balanced diet.
Horse nutrition is a more complex situation than that. There are pros and then there are the cons. Let’s have a look at this situation in more detail.
First of all, horses love this stuff. They love it more than rice bran oil, they love it more than beet pulp for horses with sugar on top, they love it more than life itself. And, a happy horse that’s eating away all day is a healthy horse and if they’re happy, then you’re happy.
The next thing is that alfalfa has much less fiber that’s indigestible than with other types of hay, so it’s as close to pure food as you’ll get.
For the lactating mare or the mare who’s expecting, as well as foals going through a growth spurt, the protein content is highly beneficial. The other thing that it gives out is calcium; something that’s equally if not even more important than protein. So from a protein and calcium point of view, it’s magic horse nutrition. Avoid to many treats.
In cube and pellet form, it is as good and a pure a processed equine feed that you can get. The only loss from the hay to the processed format is in the heating that tends to mess up the protein content, but if you go for green cubes (as opposed to brown or black), then you should have most if not all of the protein intact.
FACTS AND MYTHS
The Myth: Joint disease in foals can be caused by the high protein content.
The Fact: OCD and any other diseases are not caused by a high amount of protein. In fact, the opposite is true – the more alfalfa hay your horse eats, the less likely he is going to get OCD.
The Myth: Too much protein in it causes problems in the kidneys.
The Fact: No renal problems are associated with a lot of protein. What is true is that an overdose of protein becomes ammonia, which is passed through the kidneys, so the horse needs to counteract this by drinking more water. It’s also not true that too much hay causes insulin resistance in horses.
The Myth: The high protein content causes the temperature of the horse to rise exponentially.
The Fact: While the feed may make the horse more energetic, this means that the horse runs around more and therefore gets hotter, but the horse nutrition itself isn’t the cause of heating up.