When you dish up your horse’s daily ration, is alfalfa included? In last week’s online poll, we asked our readers if they fed their horses alfalfa. More than 1,200 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 1,244 respondents, 504 (41%) replied yes, they feed their horses alfalfa hay. Another 149 respondents (12%) said they feed their horses alfalfa pellets, while 119 individuals (10%) give their horses alfalfa cubes. An additional 100 respondents (8%) said they feed their horses other forms of alfalfa, and the remaining 372 respondents (30%) said they do not include alfalfa in their horses’ diets.

Additionally, more than 150 people commented about their alfalfa-feeding tendencies:

[image imageid="6963" includeTitle="false" includeSummary="false"][/image]

Many people commented that the feed their horses alfalfa hay:   

  • “My picky eater won’t touch pellets or cubes, but loves some Standlee alfalfa hay mixed with his timothy hay.”
  • “Yes, living in Arizona it’s the most common and affordable hay. I try to feed some grass hay, too.”
  • “I give second-cut alfalfa hay in winter for calories.”
  • “I feed alfalfa hay and pellets. My OTTBs do well with lots of protein.”
  • “I supplement a flake a day for his stomach and additional protein.”
  • “Only a flake before meals to buffer stomach acid. Otherwise he gets grass hay.”
  • “I did this winter, and their feed (Thrive) is an alfalfa-based product.”
  • “We feed alfalfa in the afternoon. Breakfast and lunch are a mixture of oat and orchardgrass hay.”
  • “I feed a little alfalfa hay along with grass hay and a beet pulp mash.”
  • “I only one flake daily as a supplement to his grass hay.”
  • “I only feed alfalfa hay to keep weight on hard keepers and help prevent ulcers on three to four hour winter riding events.”

Others said they feed an alfalfa and grass mixed hay:

  • “Most of my horses get an alfalfa/timothy mix, a few get grass hay, and the seniors get alfalfa only.”
  • “We feed an alfalfa/grass hay mix, and sometimes the picky eaters get alfalfa cubes if they get thin.”
  • “I feed alfalfa/timothy. I never feed alfalfa alone, always mix it with something else.”
  • “I’m feeding an orchardgrass/alfalfa-mix hay.”
  • “We feed 1/4 alfalfa and 3/4 Bermuda most of the time. We increase alfalfa during cold weather and heavy work.”
  • “We use an orchard/alfalfa mix most of the time. We switch to straight alfalfa towards end of pregnancy and while nursing for first four months.”
  • “We use a mixed grasses/alfalfa hay … a 70:30 ratio”
  • “I feed an 80% orchardgrass, 20% alfalfa-mix to my 4-year-old and alfalfa/timothy pellets to the 30-year-old.”
  • “I feed mix of 50/50 alfalfa and bermuda”
  • “I use an alfalfa and ryegrass blend.”
  • “I feed an alfalfa and orchardgrass hay mixture during the winter.”
  • “I feed an alfalfa/brome mix just to one of my horses due to trouble chewing. Alfalfa is softer.”

Several people said they feed their horse alfalfa cubes or pellets:

  • “I feed cubes along with grass hay, supplements, and, of course, carrots.”
  • “I split an alfalfa cube as treat occasionally”
  • “I give a few alfalfa cubes as treats.”
  • “I get alfalfa/timothy pellets for my 34-year-old mare.”
  • “My horse is old and can’t eat hay. Soaked alfalfa cubes are great.”
  • “My senior Arabian gets alfalfa/oat pellets with grass hay. My Mini won’t eat anything but alfalfa hay.”
  • “We only use soaked timothy/alfalfa hay cubes for our three seniors at our barn. I prefer no alfalfa, though.”
  • “I have fed all three before and am currently feeding cubes.”
  • “I give hay cubes as treats in cooler months and a warm hay cube stew once a week during winter months.”
  • “We feed cubes as a supplement for growing youngsters.”
  • “I feed pellets only in the winter to supplement hay; none the rest of the year.”
  • “I feed the older pony that cannot chew hay alfalfa pellets only.”
  • “I feed alfalfa pellets with oats as my horses ‘grain’ feed twice daily.”

A few respondents mentioned other ways they incorporate alfalfa into their horses’ diets:   

  • “We feed grass hay but also give a handful of alfalfa every day or so for nutritional variety.”
  • “I use alfalfa chaff.”
  • “I just feed it to my senior horse with extensive teeth issues. She gets chopped alfalfa. The others get grass hay.”
  • “We use alfalfa as a treat. It’s a popular one, too.”
  • “We feed Lucerne chaff.”
  • “We use chaff, plus concentrated pellets.”
  • “My horse gets alfalfa meal in his senior feed.”

Some individuals shared why they do not feed alfalfa:   

  • “I only feed grass hay. Alfalfa is not good for mules.”
  • “I don’t feed alfalfa because I ended up with two Morgans getting heaves from it!”
  • “It’s too rich for my horses, and not readily available in my area anyway.”
  • “I have Haflingers. No alfalfa, ever.”
  • “I feed orchardgrass and sometimes timothy pellets, but no alfalfa or bermuda.”
  • “My OTTB becomes a hyper, nervous, unrideable mess if I feed him alfalfa.”
  • “My husband’s Quarter Horse has HYPP and can’t be fed alfalfa or products containing excess potassium.”

And others left general comments:

  • “We tried a couple of times, but my horse would get super skittish, spooky, and very jumpy.”
  • “Only as needed for certain horses at certain times of the year”
  • “My easy-going trail horse becomes a barrel horse when fed alfalfa.”
  • “My animals are all good doers. If I had any that needed extra then I would feed alfalfa cubes.”
  • “In South Africa, it’s an essential part of their diet as our hay is not always great quality.”
  • “Good-quality grass hay is all my horse requires.”

You can find tips for producing high-quality alfalfa hay for horses, get expert advice for choosing between baled alfalfa and alfalfa pellets, learn about blister beetles and the risk they pose to horses, and four common misconceptions about alfalfa at TheHorse.com. There are also numerous articles and resources listed in our “Pastures and Forages” and “Hay” subtopic pages.

This week, we want to know: is air quality a concern or challenge in your barn? Vote now and share your comments at TheHorse.com/polls!  

The results of our  weekly polls  are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them.  Sign up for our e-newsletters  on our homepage and look for a new poll on  TheHorse.com.