The Role of Alfalfa as a Beneficial Addition to Horse Diets

3 min read

As a horse owner, ensuring that your horse is getting the correct nutrients it needs from its diet is essential. Horses require a balanced diet, adapted to their individual needs, whether they’re a good-doer, a performance horse, or a young, growing foal. This is where alfalfa can help. Adding this forage that’s rich in nutrients can have a positive impact on your horse’s general health. Read on as we take a closer look at the beneficial role of alfalfa in your horse’s diet.

High Nutritional Value

Alfalfa is high in nutritional value, so adding it to your horse’s diet could have a positive impact on their overall health and well-being. Alfalfa is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, as well as protein, which is particularly important for growing foals, horses in intense training to maintain muscle condition, and lactating mares. The protein content within alfalfa helps with tissue repair and development, which is why it’s a crucial component of a performance horse’s diet.

As well as protein content, alfalfa is packed with a range of vitamins that are essential to keeping your horse healthy, like vitamins A, D, and E. Alfalfa also contains B vitamins, which have an impact on your horse’s energy levels, appetite, and behavior. There are a variety of other ways in which alfalfa can enhance health, for example, by helping to maintain healthy bones, teeth, and muscle function.

Digestive Health

Another significant benefit that comes with adding alfalfa to your horse’s diet is that it can have a positive impact on digestive health. As a horse owner, you’ll know how important it is to ensure your horse’s gut remains balanced, and the impact the gut can have on other functions around the body. Adding alfalfa to your horse’s diet means they can take advantage of the high fibre content it contains, which promotes healthy gut function and reduces the chance of digestive issues like ulcers and colic taking hold. Alfalfa encourages and stimulates saliva production when it is chewed, which helps to break down food correctly and effectively.

Alfalfa contains high levels of calcium, which acts as a natural buffer against stomach acid. Adding alfalfa to a performance horse’s diet, and feeding before they exercise, means stomach acid is less likely to splash onto the upper area of the stomach, which can result in problematic ulcers.

Weight Management

It’s essential to manage your horse’s weight, whether they’re good-doers, or performance horses, with a rigorous training regime. Alfalfa is energy-dense, which means it can provide calories to those who need additional energy for performance or growth. Alfalfa can be added to your horse’s diet as an alternative to cereal-based feed, which can sometimes cause issues within the gut if too much of it is consumed.

You can also feed good-doers alfalfa in controlled amounts to increase nutrient intake without an excess of calories. There are feeds available that contain a proportion of alfalfa mixed with other high fibre ingredients that are lower in calories, such as straw.

Dental Health

Did you know alfalfa can also benefit your horse’s teeth? Chewing on this fibrous forage helps to wear teeth down naturally and evenly, which helps to manage and reduce the chance of uneven wear, and even sharp points forming within your horse’s mouth. The saliva generated when chewing alfalfa also promotes good oral health and helps reduce the chance of dental issues developing.

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