can foals eat alfalfa

Wondering If Your Foal Can Chomp On Alfalfa? Let’s Find Out

As I was feeding my little pony Emma this morning, she started chomping away at the alfalfa hay like it was nobody’s business.

Got me wondering, can foals really eat alfalfa? Is it good for ’em or will it make ’em sick?

The good news is yes, foals can definitely eat alfalfa.

In fact, alfalfa is really nutritious for young horses. It’s packed with protein, calcium, and vitamins that help foals grow strong and stay healthy.

Alfalfa Is A Nutrition Powerhouse For Growing Foals

can foals eat alfalfa

This green stuff is packed with good-for-ya nutrients.

Protein helps build strong muscles as your tiny pony bulks up.

Calcium forms healthy bones and pearly whites as those choppers come in.

Vitamins A, E, and K are antioxidants that support growth and development.

Magnesium keeps little bodies active and limber as they learn to trot and canter.

Plus, alfalfa provides steady fuel with energy-rich carbohydrates and dietary fiber.

At this lanky stage, foals need fuel and building blocks for all that maturing.

Alfalfa’s nutrients fill that need perfectly without extra supplements.

Where else are ya gonna find protein, calcium and vitamins all in one tasty package?

It’s like kale for people – a total superfood that supports strong, healthy bodies.

The best part is how much foals love to chomp on it!

Alfalfa Promotes Easy Digestion For Developing Foal Stomachs

can foals eat alfalfa

These lil bellies are tiny but mighty.

Highly digestible foods are crucial so nutrients are absorbed.

Alfalfa’s fiber moves everything along smoothly without stressing their systems.

The cellulose breaks down slowly for steady fuel all day long.

Foal tummies can handle alfalfa without any trouble.

In fact, alfalfa supports balanced gut bacteria as their microbiomes establish.

Healthy digestion breeds a happy, energetic pony pal for you.

No one wants to see a cranky, irritable foal with a tummy ache!

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Alfalfa keeps things running on schedule down below.

Just be sure fresh water is always available too for maximum hydration.

Well-fed foals will be rarin’ to run and play all day long.

Tips For Feeding Alfalfa To Your Foal

can foals eat alfalfa

While alfalfa is A-OK, you still wanna use common sense with portions.

Nursing foals shouldn’t eat more than 1-2% of their body weight daily.

Weaned babies can have 2-3% as they’re independent eaters.

Watch their hips, backbone and ribs – you should see some shape but not see bones.

Adjust amounts based on your foal’s size, exercise and appetite.

Feed alfalfa hay free-choice so they can graze throughout the day.

Supplement with grass or timothy hay too for fiber variation.

Store extra hay tightly covered to protect nutrients and avoid mold.

Rotate fresh bales in weekly for optimal quality and crunchiness.

Check their weight and body condition monthly with your vet.

Adjust portions up or down as needed to support steady growth.

With care and variety, alfalfa is totally safe for growing foals.

Does Alfalfa Cause Colic?

Some folks worry babies will get an ouchy tummy from alfalfa.

While any hay can in theory lead to digestive upset, alfalfa is not a higher risk when fed properly.

Most foal colics are actually due to other issues like parasites, stress or sudden diet changes.

As long as portions are correct for size and gradual adjustments are made, alfalfa alone does not commonly cause colic.

Many vet schools and extension experts say alfalfa is perfectly safe when monitored alongside regular worming and gentle lifestyle management.

Overeating any food can upset a sensitive system, so moderation is key as with any diet.

Proper alfalfa inclusion does not warrant concern if babies stay healthy and growing steady.

Alfalfa Versus Grass Hay For Foals

Grass hay like timothy is certainly nutritious and a great option too for babies.

However, alfalfa edges it out slightly in certain key nutrients young ones need more of.

Protein, calcium and some vitamins are higher amounts per pound in alfalfa.

Grass is more carbohydrate-based with less concentrated nutrition per bite.

Especially for miniature or sickly foals, alfalfa boosts their ability to gain weight and size up properly.

A mix of the two is ideal to vary fiber sources and nutrients intake.

Grass alone won’t hurt them, but alfalfa adds valuable building blocks for strong growth.

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Storing And Feeding Alfalfa Hay

For best quality, hay must stay perfectly dry and fresh.

Cover bales tightly with a tarp until ready to use to prevent mold or spoilage.

Store in a covered, well-ventilated shed out of direct sun and rain.

Bring bales inside the barn only as needed to avoid excess moisture sitting on hay.

The goldilocks zone is around 12-14% moisture to retain nutrients babies need.

Set up a hay rack or provide loose hay on the ground for free-choice access.

Rotate through bales within a couple weeks to ensure finest nutrition with each mouthful.

Feeding Alfalfa With Grain For Working Or Show Foals

Some growing babies need extra calories for strenuous work like training or showing.

In these cases, small amounts of balanced grain can boost weight gain and muscle tone.

Work closely with your vet and trainer on tailoring a specific grain mix.

Never substitute grain for hay – babies still need steady forage intake first and foremost.

Grain is a supplement, not a primary diet. Too much too soon can lead to digestion or behavior issues.

Monitor hay and grain separately to control portions effectively.

With care, alfalfa and modest grain supports fit, athletic foals. But hay comes before cubes!

When To Transition Foals Off Alfalfa

Weanlings can continue alfalfa through their first winter for steady calorie intake.

Come spring as pastures green up, transition them to mixed grass hay and grazing gradually.

By age two, the majority of their diet shifts from hay to forages anyway.

Alfalfa is less crucial once horses reach maturity after two years old.

At this stage fiber needs are met through pasture, hay, and their size and dental development is complete.

No need to cut alfalfa cold turkey – blend it out slowly over weeks or months as they adjust.

By properly supporting growth with alfalfa initially, horses will be set up for sound skeletal and dental health long-term.

Feeding Alfalfa Hay To Miniature Foals

Teacup and pony breed babies in particular rely on optimal nutrition.

Since they have the same nutritional demands crammed into pint-sized bodies, nourishment is key.

Protein, calcium and easy-to-digest fiber from alfalfa helps miniatures reach their genetic potential for weight and growth.

Plus, the energy density of alfalfa is ideal for their mini metabolisms.

Just watch portion sizes carefully as these itsy bitsy bellies fill out faster than standard foals.

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With diligent alfalfa feeding, mini mares and geldings enjoy healthy development proportional to their size.

Adding Alfalfa To A Nursing Mare’s Diet

Nursing is energy-intensive work for mares to produce quality milk.

Feeding high-quality alfalfa supports a mare’s calorie and protein needs to nurture a growing foal internally and through milk.

Well-fed, hydrated and rested mares produce the most nutritious milk possible.

Their foals directly benefit with added nutrients, antibodies, and a stronger immune system transferred through nursing.

Mom stays in top bodily condition too without depleting her reserves.

A happy, healthy mare makes for a happy, healthy baby.

Using Alfalfa Hay For Weight Gain In Underweight Foals

In cases of illness, abandonment or other setbacks, some foals are terribly underweight.

Their systems need dense, highly digestible nutrition to regain a normal growth trajectory.

Alfalfa with grain supplements can successfully bring tiny bodies back to where they should be.

Round-the-clock access to alfalfa hay speeds rebuilding of muscle and fat stores.

With diligent care, many medical foals make remarkable turnarounds fueled by alfalfa’s powerhouse profile.

Their second chances at life are a testament to this nutritious hay’s restorative powers.

Common Misconceptions About Feeding Alfalfa To Foals

“Alfalfa will make their bones too big.” Not true unless seriously overfed for months on end.

“It causes colic.” Only if portions are incorrect or added too hastily without adjustment periods.

“They’ll get too fat.” Monitoring intake prevents weight issues just like any food.

“Grass hay is better.” Grass lacks certain nutrients alfalfa provides in heightened amounts for growth.

“They don’t need it after weaning.” Weanlings still benefit through first winter for continued maturation.

“It’s only for breeding stock.” All horses can safely eat alfalfa when adjusted to their needs.

“any hay is fine.” Alfalfa uniquely supports optimum bone and muscle growth for developing bodies.

So Can Foals Eat Alfalfa?

Alfalfa hay is one fabulous forage for babes.

Packed with protein, calcium and minerals for bones, muscles and overall health.

The fiber promotes steady digestion in their developing guts.

Foals have tiny stomachs so digestibility is key.

As long as portions are proportionate to size, alfalfa is totally cool for foals to eat.

So don’t hesitate to keep that hay bag filled with this nutritious staple.

Your baby pony will be well-nourished and full of spunk thanks to alfalfa!


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