I purchased an acre of land from a fellow farmer to graze my yearling stallion on when he comes home from the trainer the end of July. This past spring we seeded it down with a four seed pasture mix of clover, grasses, alfalfa etc. The mix says 20% alfalfa. Right now, the field is up to my knees or above. My other horse is in her own paddock and has not been in this one yet.
My trainer was over last week and looked at the new paddock for the yearling stallion and told me that I could not put the horse into that paddock as it had alfalfa in it. She said the horse would gorge, and founder if we did.
My question is.... why would a seed company develop and sell a mix labelled horse pasture that contained something that could hurt a horse? Or... is this even true?
I have a phone call into my regular vet to ask the same question, and on speaking to the feed and seed company, they suggested we mow the paddock down to grass level to keep the horse from eating too much.
My trainer suggested we bale the field and cure the bales, then it would be safe to feed, or to wait for two killing frosts before letting the horse into that paddock.
Its looking like I might be mowing down this beautiful field to be sure that the yearling stallion is not at risk of foundering.
Any suggestions? Is this a myth, or fact?
I should also add that at the trainers he has no direct access to a paddock of grass. His paddock is wood chipped and he is given free choice hay and grains, so he isnt used to eating in a grassy paddock.
Debbie, if there is alot of alafafa coming in than I would be cautious. Horses truely don't need it. It does become toxic to after a frost for a period of time, I would have to double check with my hubby as to the time frame. Horses too if not use to pasture will gorge. First you feed him in the barn as usual, his grain and hay , and then you turn him out for 30 min. and continue to increase his time every few days. If he is full from hay then he will not gorge as much. Sooner or later you can keep him there all day. Spring grass is a big culprit for founder, its very rich, summer grass is not as bad, but you still need to be cautious that is the reason for slowly increasing his time on it.
Our hay is seeded 20% alfalfa, and even my fatso donkey has no problems on it, even with all day access to round bales. 20% seeded does not mean there is actually 20% alfalfa plants growing, usually less grows than what was originally seeded. Also how many years ago was it seeded, if it was a few years there will be less alfalfa still. I think that the suggestion to bale it as hay first is wise, then gradually work your yearling out onto it, starting with no more than a half a hour the first day and slowly add time over a few weeks until he has adjusted to the change in diet. I think your trainer is over-reacting, but there is certainly reason for caution, as horses certainly can and do colic and founder from a too quick introduction to a change in feed, especially something rich like alfalfa. Some racehorse and endurance horse trainers prefer an alfalfa hay over grass, and the standard horse hay mix from our local co-op is 20% alfalfa. Be careful that there is no alsike clover in the mix either, it has been a bad year for that in certain areas. You may need to change your grain too, I would have an analysis done, the calcium/phosphorous ratio is different in alfalfa and you may have to adjust for that - Buckeye, for example, makes different feeds geared towards whether forage is grass based or alfalfa based.
It looks to me like the pasture is 90% alfalfa. Im furious that this mixture isnt what I wanted, and now cant put the horse onto it as I planned.
Anyway, I have my mare out on it. I phoned my vet, who said the same thing as you did.. just put her out on it for 30 minutes the first time, and gradually increase it weekly to more and more time. I keep her in a small turnout for half the day with access to unlimited hay, and she is fed her grain at 6 am (before I head off to work) and again around 6pm. I get home around 2, so I let her out onto that darn pasture until supper time. She seems fine on it now, though I am nervous about the yearling colt going out there with out ever having access to this kind of pasture before.
I will probably switch pastures and put him in where the mare is now, and leave her in the pasture and not take a risk of him getting too much of a good thing!. I can also keep the mare in her stall for half the day and turn her out onto the pasture as usual when I get home from work. We are going to call our field specialist in to take a look and maybe spray something to kill the alfalfa off and direct seed some more grass in.
In the meantime, I am cutting this acre pasture weekly with a riding lawnmower to keep the pasture short, and leaving the outside longer, which seems to have more grass than anything else. This mare prefers the grass anyway.
I am leaving my stud colt at the trainers for another month and will see where we are at that time.
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