Does Alfalfa Hay Make Horses Hot?
Alfalfa hay is a common and nutritious forage for horses. It is a good source of fiber, protein, calories, and many essential vitamins and minerals. But does alfalfa hay make horses hot? While there is no definite answer, there is evidence to suggest that it can have an energizing effect and should therefore be fed with caution.
High Protein Content
Alfalfa hay typically contains more protein and carbohydrates than other types of grass hay, such as timothy. High levels of protein can raise energy levels and excitability. Horses that already struggle with nervousness may become even more sensitive when fed alfalfa hay over other types of hay.
Alfalfa hay also contains digestible energy, which is the energy that the horse can use to support many of its bodily functions. The digestible energy of alfalfa hay is typically much higher than other hay types. This higher energy content can invigorate horses and make them feel more energetic and willing to work.
In addition to higher levels of protein and digestible energy, alfalfa hay often contains a more concentrated nutrient profile than other hay types. This means that while it is great for growing or performance horses, it is not always the best choice for some horses, particularly those with metabolic issues or those that are prone to making acidosis.
Age of the Hay
The age of the alfalfa hay that you are feeding can also have an effect on its energetically. Alfalfa hay that is too mature can contain higher levels of non-structural carbohydrates, which can cause an energy rush. Newer hay is generally higher in protein, which can make horses more energized as well.
Making the Decision
When deciding whether or not to feed alfalfa hay to your horse, keep the following in mind:
- Protein Content: Alfalfa hay typically has a higher protein content than other hay varieties, which can energize horses and make them more excitable.
- Digestible Energy: Alfalfa hay has a higher digestible energy content, which can invigorate horses and make them more inclined to work.
- Nutrient Profile: Certain horses, such as those with metabolic issues or acidosis, may find alfalfa hay too high in certain nutrients.
- Age of the Hay: Older hay can contain higher levels of non-structural carbohydrates that can create an energy rush in horses.
In short, alfalfa hay can energize horses, so it should be used with caution and carefully monitored. Knowing the nutrient profile and age of the hay can help you make an informed decision when deciding if alfalfa hay is the right choice for your horse.