Orchard grass vs Timothy vs Alfalfa??

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by jmjarabians, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. jmjarabians

    jmjarabians Senior Member+

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    Those are the only three kinds of hay I can get. I just picked up some BEAUTIFUL Orchard Grass/Alfalfa mix with minimum alfalfa for $140 a ton. Which in my area is CHEAP.

    Which would you prefer to feed? I have Arabians and they are currently on straight alfalfa because that's all I could get. But I am switching them over to the Orchard Grass. Personally I notice that they get cracked out on the alfalfa and are WAY WAY too hyper. When they are on the orchard grass they are both more mellow.

    Thoughts???
     






  2. PeggySue

    PeggySue Senior Member+

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    I try to stay away from alfalfa... Timothy is said to be the best nutritionally for horses but I have seen horses that wouldn't eat it ... orchard grass I think is a good horse hay ...
     
  3. Vegashorselady

    Vegashorselady Senior Member

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    I stay away from feeding straight alfalfa. Horses are designed to eat grass. Alfalfa is actually not a grass, it is a legume and very high in protein. It can make your horses hot and to much protein in their diet can cause other health issues.

    My horses love timothy hay!
     
  4. HoustonFarrier

    HoustonFarrier Senior Member+

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    Interesting....when one of my Clydesdales coliced BAD, and went to Texas A&M, they actually RECCOMMEND feeding straight alfalfa, and that's what they fed him while he was there. Since he has been back, he's on a mixture of alfalfa and coastal.

    I bought a stallion from a long time Clydesdale breeder in WA, and he has been feeding his horses an alfalfa/orchard mix for 40 years......

    Just FYI......

    Steve
     
  5. Preppy_Ponies

    Preppy_Ponies Senior Member+

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    Out of curiousity do you know what percentage the mix is?

    It is a great deal if the hay is really good. I would say go for it. If they are already used to getting alfalfa on a regular basis switching to straight orchard might cut the calories too much. This blend should be a nice in between.
     
  6. PeggySue

    PeggySue Senior Member+

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    Can you show me the research stating this?? Excess protiens is only an issue with horses with renal problems
     
  7. Lopinslow

    Lopinslow Senior Member+

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    we've always only fed grass hay. We did get some alfalfa/clover mix for an oprhan we had 2 years ago to entice him to eat something other than his milk replacer. just 1 flake of it as a treat with his grass hay for 4 only feedings and my normally dead-head, bombproof horse was completely insane! pulled him off it, and he was back to his normal self the next time I rode.

    it may depend on the type of colic? i had a mare that coliced bad twice (displaced colon both times). 1st time she went to the University (no surgery) and the second a couple years later she went to a well respected vet hospital and required surgery. BOTH vets told me aboslutely NO alfalfa for her, grass hay only.
     
  8. redhorseridge

    redhorseridge Senior Member+

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    From: Protein, Praises and Woes, by Gretchen Topel
    (references research from Colorado State and Sweden)
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] [/FONT][FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Protein is absolutely necessary for the body to survive, but an overload of protein will break down the tissues, organs, and structure of the body over time. Additionally, a horse that consumes too much protein will be at an even greater risk of contracting diseases and be predisposed to other symptoms such as hypothyroidism, tying up, kidney problems, and arthritis to name a few.[/FONT]


    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Without proteins, DNA, enzymes, and hormones would not exist as these substances are primarily composed of proteins. Imagine how out of balance a horse's body would be if they did not have enough protein! Some horses, but very few, do suffer from too little protein in the diet, but mostly, I find that if a horse is a having a severe issue, they are presently consuming too much protein in the form of alfalfa and/or a high protein grain formulation.

    From safergrass.org:
    [/FONT]There is anecdotal evidence of horses foundering on straight alfalfa, but this may well be from excess protein, or other as yet undetermined factors that may include phytoestrogens or fungal toxins produced by pathogens infesting the legumes.


    J.D.Pagan, Energy and the Performance Horse, 1998, Advances in Equine Nutrition, Vol II. (basically the article talks about the detrimental effects of high protein on performance horses). If I remember correctly, it talks about more internal heat, tight muscle tissue, and potential liver/kidney issues (due to the body trying to flush the excess protein).


    Research has shown that feeding too much protein to young horses can cause them to grow more slowly that those on a protein balanced diet. I've also read that too much protein can cause hypothryroidism and tying up, but I haven't seen any hard research on that.

    If you google "equine research articles excessive protein" you will see articles from the Journal of Equine Vet. Science, Kentucky Equine Research Center, etc.

    I prefer to feed grass -- I can feed more and keep them happier. Plus, I have easy keepers so I try to get medium to low quality hay. If I fed alfalfa, they would explode... :)

    My horses don't care much for timothy -- even the really good stuff. They like orchard grass and love brome.
     
  9. Mare

    Mare Senior Member+

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    Mine are fed alfalfa/second cutting. Love the stuff and wouldnt change. If I couldnt get that then I would settle for Tim/Alf.
     
  10. jmjarabians

    jmjarabians Senior Member+

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    To my eye (note I am NOT a hay farmer) that it appears to be an 80/20 mix. 80 orchard grass, 20 alfalfa. This is first cut, just off the field.

    I've been around Arabians almost my whole life and not many of the farms I've been on have always fed straight alfalfa. I think Arabians don't tolerate it well as a breed. There is studies that say straight alf. not only has too much protein but also has too high levels of phosporhus (sp?) which can cause kidney stones and ulcers in some cases.

    My two horses LOVE alfalfa and scarf down every scrap. But alfalfa does have TOUGH stems and both my horses are older which is also why I switched as it's easier for them to chew the grass/mix. Granted they don't like it as much but they'll live ;)
     






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