Forage is the basis for feeding programs for all classes of horses. Forage contains many nutrients, and the fiber provided by forage is essential for the maintenance of the horse's gastrointestinal health.
Hay and pasture are the typical forage sources for horses, but when growing or harvesting conditions limit their availability, horse owners have to consider alternative forage sources.
Forage cubes are gaining popularity as an alternative to feeding long-stem hay. The cubes available may be 100% alfalfa, a mixture of alfalfa and grass, or a more recent product which is a mixture of alfalfa and whole corn plant.
Availability of the different products will vary with local suppliers. For most horse owners, 100% alfalfa cubes is the product most readily available. As with any feedstuff, there are advantages and disadvantages that must be considered when making your decision to use alfalfa cubes in feeding programs for your horses.
Research with alfalfa cubes has shown that cubes are effective as the forage component in horse diets. However, alfalfa cubes must be limit-fed, as voluntary intake is much greater for the cubes than for long-stem alfalfa hay. Horses fed to appetite consumed 17 to 25% more cubed alfalfa than long-stem hay.
Horses that are fed alfalfa cubes tend to eat all the cubes provided, whereas horses fed long-stem alfalfa hay will sort through the hay and not eat all the hay offered. Research in Colorado reported that mature horses fed alfalfa cubes maintained their body weight better than horses fed equal amounts of long-stem hay. The conclusion reached was that the horses fed the cubed alfalfa ate all the feed provided, while the horses fed the long-stem hay wasted a portion of the feed provided. Therefore, horse owners should provide alfalfa cubes in a controlled manner to prevent overconsumption of the feed, which can lead to serious digestive problems such as colic or problems associated with overweight horses.
Alfalfa cubes can be used in feeding programs to replace a portion or all of the forage that horse owners would feed their horses.
Advantages of Alfalfa Cubes
Alfalfa cubes can be used effectively as the sole source of roughage for all classes of horses. Because of the high nutrient values for energy, protein, calcium, and vitamins, alfalfa cubes are very effective in feeding programs for broodmares and young growing horses. In addition, alfalfa cubes may be used for horses with certain respiratory problems as horse owners try to reduce the horses' exposure to dust and mold. With all horses, and especially the mature horse at maintenance, controlling the daily intake of alfalfa cubes is a must to prevent overfeeding.
Robert J. Coleman and Laurie M. Lawrence, Department of Animal Sciences; Jimmy C. Henning, Department of Agronomy, University of Kentucky
Alfalfa Cube Sales
Alfalfa cubes are sold by the truckload, 1500 tote bag, pallet of 50 pound bags or by the 50 pound bag. Just tell us your needs.
Custom Cubes - you bring us your hay or tell us your desired hay mix and we'll custom cube it for you.
We can also mix oats or other grains in with the hay for premium cubes.
CALL McHAY (580) 492-6429 FOR PRICES AND DETAILS