stringTEST
alfalfa - Horses [Skip to Content]
Illinois Livestock Trail by UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION


Horses
Illinois Livestock Trail

Horses > Feeding & Nutrition

QUESTION
Is it true that feeding alfalfa rather than Timothy can give some horses too much energy?


ANSWER

The short answer to this question is yes. However, the stage of maturity of any forage has more to do with its energy content than the species. In other words, it is entirely possible that an early harvested timothy hay (pre-bud) might have greater digestibility and therefore more energy than a late harvested alfalfa hay in full bloom. Therefore, one cannot make a blanket statement about grass versus legume hays pertaining to energy values. Likewise, even though most legume hays tend to have higher protein content than grass hays, this is not always the case either, as early harvested grasses that were heavily fertilized with nitrogen may have very high crude protein values, even higher than many legume hays such as alfalfa. I can only assume that your concern for feeding too much energy through the forage is related to a horse that is overweight (like many horses are). Of course, the first thing that should be done for overweight horses is to eliminate the grain portion of their diets, since grain is very energy dense compared to most forages. Once the grain is eliminated from the diet, a free choice salt, vitamin and mineral supplement should be provided since those nutrients are no longer being provided in a fortified grain mix.







« Back to Horses

top