Horses can successfully consume alfalfa, a good source of fibre and . There are a number of reasons to consider grazing horses on predominantly alfalfa pastures. A seeding rate of 7 lbs (3.2 kg)of alfalfa with 3 lbs (1.4 kg) of Meadow Brome/acre would be a good mix for pasturing in most areas. Once the final cutting of the alfalfa is done, horses can graze the field, but it is a good plan to feed grass hay before turning them out so that the horses do not eat too much of alfalfa at once. Although no recommendations for NDF and ADF in the horse diet exist, most experts recommend horse-quality hay should be less than or equal to 65 percent NDF and less than or equal to 45 percent ADF. For alfalfa to persist the root reserves should be as close to maximum as possible when the plants are going into the winter. It was found that teff, alfalfa, and perennial ryegrass all meet the nutritional needs for horses and would be good grazing options in the Upper Midwest. Creeping rooted varieties are the hardiest and will withstand grazing pressure and adverse conditions better than the other two categories. Virginia workers studied systems of grazing alfalfa based on need and environmental conditions. Of course, bloat protectants like poloxalene can be fed as blocks or mixed with grain. I would wait to put them on that until well into the winter, but the other field has been cut and there's just very short, but sprouting alfalfa, on it. Alfalfa can be ideal on farms where it can be used for hay, silage, or grazing. Grown over a wide range of soil and climate conditions, it has the highest yield potential and feeding value of all perennial forage legumes. This versatile crop can be used for hay, pasture, silage, green-chop, pellets, cubes and soil improvement. Understanding the relationship between root reserves and how the plant grows is important if the stand is to survive for any length of time under a grazing situation. Grazing on a rotational basis with at least 3 and preferably 4 paddocks allows the alfalfa to maintain adequate root reserves. An occasional treat is one thing - sustaining them on it is quite another. There is always a chance for horses to colic. In addition, damage to new crown shoots can occur when cattle are left on an individual paddock after new shoots develop. Grazing horses on teff, alfalfa and perennial ryegrass. Alfalfa can provide the nutrition required during this period. When I hear that question I can almost imagine the scenarios from which it comes. I also suggest you do more research if you are still not convinced. Alfalfa’s deep root system makes it more drought tolerant than our other cool-season legumes and grasses. Grazing may also rejuvenate some stands by reducing grass and weed competition. Access to water and minerals is also important. Six adult horses grazed for about six hours a day for three consecutive days each month during the grazing season. The type of alfalfa selected for grazing purposes is important if you want a stand to survive grazing pressure. Just be careful and realistic. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. After the first killing frost (-6Âº C to -8Âº C for alfalfa) little depletion or replenishment occurs in the root system. Clip pastures regularly during the growing season. This will occur mid-May, depending on location and soil type. Alfalfa is a nutritious high protein, calcium rich legume that can be fed to horses provided some basic precautions are taken. Both alfalfa and teff had lower nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) values than perennial ryegrass. Alfalfa Hay is also higher in Calcium, with about 3 times as much as Grass Hay. Good luck. As a general rule, about 1/3rd of the horse's daily intake of hay can be alfalfa. Have cows full before turning out to alfalfa. Feeding some alfalfa to the horse will help prevent the absorption of Se because alfalfa has high levels of sulfur that counteracts the absorption of the Se. Extension is expanding its online education and resources to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. Misconception 1: Will alfalfa make my horse hot? Only you can answer that question. Forage for horses can be divided into two categories—grasses and legumes. Along the front rang many areas have soils high in the mineral Selenium (Se). The following are three common misconceptions surrounding feeding alfalfa to horses. At 2,000 lbs production/acre the entire 60 acres would be required for grazing. UNL web framework and quality assurance provided by the, Apply to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Give to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4-H Pre-Fair Contests (Public Speaking, Cook-Off, Food Revue, Presentation, Fashion Show, Talent), 4-H Programs & Events (Local Workshops, Livestock & Horse Shows), Animal Resources (ID Forms, Record Books, YQCA), Club Leader/Volunteer Information/Spotlight Newsletter. Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID). By the first week in June, paddock 4 should be close to the early bud stage and root reserves would be about 75 per cent replenished which is acceptable. This system enables legumes and grasses to grow better, increasing feed availability per acre. values when they mature than alfalfa. Alfalfa can be ideal on farms where it can be used for hay, silage, or grazing. They can graze it in pastures or eat it as hay. Usually root reserves decrease between full bloom, and the mature seed state as tiller formation or new vegetative growth occurs. The tap-rooted varieties fall into the Early and Medium maturing categories. Alfalfa can be grazed safely. Protein and T.D.N. If your horse shows signs of colic, take it off of the alfalfa! Alfalfa is the most important forage legume grown in the United States. If you answered YES to some of the previous questions, it is at least worthy of your consideration; but wait, let me tell you some of the problems and make a few comments about them. Alfalfa’s quality for grazing is excellent, resulting in total season average daily gains over 2 lb/day in grazing trials and demonstrations. The study evaluated forage yield and nutritive values prior to grazing, which was initiated when perennial ryegrass and teff were between 8 and 10 inches or when alfalfa reached bud stage. Alfalfa and perennial ryegrass pastures were established in 2015, while teff pastures were established on June 6, 2016. Do you want to reduce your machinery cost and lower your fertilizer expenses? Doing so requires that fields be subdivided so that cattle are restricted to one area for a time, and then moved to another area. So – the only true answer to questions about grazing alfalfa safely is ‘probably’. 3. Stand Decline – If alfalfa plants are not grazed properly, stands decline. During extreme drought this aspect becomes even more important since cool-season grasses become dormant. Is grazing alfalfa right for everyone? Is my alfalfa safe to graze? If there is a lot of standing alfalfa, it is best to limit the time the horses have access to the field to an hour a day initially, gradually increasing the time over a week or so. Alfalfa will grow on sandy, loam and clay soils. Replenishment is complete by the full bloom stage. This is particularly true on light sandy soils. For old alfalfa fields that have been used for hay but where some of the stand has been lost or become weedy, grazing can extend the stand’s useful life a year or more. Grazing this crop can lower the use and cost of machinery and equipment. Horses allowed to graze are continually chewing, which helps wear their teeth in a consistent pattern, which results in better dental health. Over 40% of the cost of producing alfalfa hay is machinery and equipment. Alfalfa is a high yielding, high quality, deep-rooted, versatile forage legume well adapted throughout the U.S. Gains per animal and per acre can be excellent with acceptable stand persistence when present technology is used. A horse with a full stomach will not want to eat that much additional alfalfa. If conditions were good it would be possible to take a cut of hay after mid-September on Paddock 2. Moving through the first 3 paddocks quickly at the beginning of the season is advisable. In addition, regularly moving cattle to new pastures lets the producer observe them more closely and therefore permits greater cattle-pasture management efficiency. Is it safe to put horses out on an alfalfa field after a few hard frosts? Alfalfa also had the highest crude protein (CP) and equine digestible energy (DE), followed by perennial ryegrass and teff. I have heard everything from Alfalfa in the field is toxic to its a great source of protein and calcium. Liveweight gains per acre are quite high for grazing beef cattle, with total season gains of 500 to over 800 lb/acre in research trials and on-farm demonstrations. To be quite honest, you never can be 100 percent certain that alfalfa won’t cause bloat. Grazing tolerant varieties are more tolerant but all have limits and should certainly be rotationally grazed. Once the necessary fencing is in place, time studies have shown that the amount of additional labor required for rotational grazing is quite small compared to harvesting hay. Once alfalfa reaches 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm), food reserves begin to replenish as the plant produces more food than it needs for maintenance and growth. The combination of the first two factors – high yield and high quality – can result in the highest beef cattle gains. Source: Bruce Anderson, UNL Forage Specialist, Nebraska Extension in Knox County308 Bridge St.P.O. Because of its many merits, especially yield, quality and versatility, it can be used successfully in many animal feeding programs. However, they grazed the horses on perennial ryegrass 5 times throughout the grazing season and teff 3 times. With the initiation of growth in the spring or following removal of the top growth by cutting or grazing, carbohydrate reserves are utilized to produce new top growth. There are a number of reasons to consider grazing horses on predominantly alfalfa pastures. In July and August horses consistently need good quality forage - the colt is getting bigger and the mare should be putting on conditioning in readiness for the collection period. Once the final cutting of the alfalfa is done, horses can graze the field, but it is a good plan to feed grass hay before turning them out so that the horses do not eat too much of alfalfa at once. Additionally, teff had the highest Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) and Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) values while alfalfa exhibited the lowest values. Newly-seeded crops can be very hard to establish - establishing them may take years.