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Re: RC: Re: RC:Re:Importance of Roughage/HELP

In a message dated 2/12/00 5:45:07 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

<< Alright so I'm behind a little (a little!), I'd like to know if there's 
 anything wrong with feeding Alfalfa hay other than the obvious, the price.  
 just started using beet plup the sweet one soaked, about a month ago, I mix 
 in a little grain and some vitamins/ minerals, twice a day.  They slop it up 
 like pigs.  OK, my take on these posts was you prefer to feed grass hay 
 instead of alfalfa like there's a purpose for this. My 12%  protien grain 
 amount, has been cut in half with the start of the BP (6%), so feeding 
 alfalfa which is higher in protien than grass hay, I thought would be better 
 for them, maybe not?  Oh, I also feed some grass hay, especialy on cold 
 nights. >>

Sandy, most grass hay has plenty of protein for a working horse--the 
requirements for an adult are in the 8 to10% range, depending on who you 
read.  Protein has a high heat of digestion, and so excess protein gives you 
more body heat to have to dissipate--not at all what you want in a horse 
working for long hours on a hot day!  There can also be some implications 
with the excess calcium and I know I've read at least one paper on the 
possible effects that may have on calcitonin and calcium mobilization during 
work--can't remember who wrote it, but perhaps someone else on the list can.

As for feeding grass hay on cold nights--you've got that backward.  Cold is 
the very time that you WANT that extra protein--for the very reason that you 
DON'T necessarily want it during work--that heat of digestion is a great way 
to help keep them warm!  We feed lots of alfalfa during the winter to our 
whole herd for that very reason, but we taper the working horses off of it as 
we start serious work in the spring and the weather warms up.  (Just a note 
in light of recent selenium discussions, too--we find that it takes more 
selenium to maintain normal levels when the horses are on 
alfalfa--speculation is that there is some interference with absorption in 
the gut from the excess calcium.)  That protocol seems to work well for many, 
although alfalfa can often be utilized well during and post-race.


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