Alfalfa Cubes: An Excellent Nutritional Source For Geriatric Horses

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Alfalfa cubes are large cubes of chopped and compressed alfalfa hay. Although they are more expensive than loose or baled hay, they have advantages for geriatric horses that are worth the cost.

What Is a Geriatric Horse?

Geriatric horses, also called "hard keepers," are senior horses with issues that make it difficult to maintain their health. These issues can include stress from pain, dental problems, immune system insufficiency or gastrointestinal inefficiency. They also often have metabolic disturbances that can cause them to become obese.

Geriatric Horses and Conventional Hay

Geriatric horses have special nutritional requirements that are not met by conventional hay alone. In addition, their teeth often have difficulty chewing normal hay, which creates a large amount of forage wastage. Feeding studies found that in general feeding as much as 20 percent of conventional hay feed is wasted. In geriatric horses who have trouble chewing and breaking down the larger stalks of conventional hay, this number is likely much higher.

Controlling Portions

The weight of traditional hay changes from one day to the next due to factors such as type of hay, size of flakes and density of flakes. Since horses are best fed by feed weight, not volume, feeding with alfalfa cubes makes it possible to keep the feed amounts more consistent. This is most important in geriatric horses who are less active and tend to gain weight more easily. Since they do not have free access to alfalfa cubes like they do conventional hay, overeating is not a problem.

Nutritional Value

A huge benefit to feeding geriatric horses alfalfa cubes is that the nutritional content is more consistent. Cubes are manufactured to strict specifications and must contain guaranteed levels of fiber, protein and fat. Alfalfa cubes contain 18.8 percent protein, 1.46 percent calcium and .25 percent phosphorous.

How to Feed Alfalfa Pellets

With geriatric horses, alfalfa cubes should always be soaked and broken apart prior to feeding. Since they are so compact, there is a greater chance of "choke" or esophageal obstruction when they are consumed dry. In addition, geriatric horses may have difficulty digesting the compacted cubes, which may lead to intestinal obstruction or colic.

Your senior horse has lived a long life and no doubt served you well. He deserves to be treated with kindness and respect in his golden years so that he can remain as healthy as possible. Alfalfa cubes can provide the little extra boost that your beloved senior horse needs. Ask a reputable local feed provider about the cost and availability of alfalfa cubes.

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