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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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can you get kidney or liver problems from feeding alfalfa

i have a friend who says that feeding alfalfa can be a bad thing for your horse causing all kinds of health problems for the equine. my vet recommends alfalfa plus grass and grain. so i need your help in finding out the true facts or myths.

Where are you from? oregon

How did you locate this forum? looking for information on liver and kidney problem from feeding alfalfa

Re: can you get kidney or liver problems from feeding alfalfa

Hello Susie,

I am so glad you asked this question because it is one of the most long-held myths out there.

You see, alfalfa is very high in protein. And, if a horse receives high quantities of protein that is of poor quality, its kidney and liver will be overburdened. But, the protein in alfalfa is very high in quality, meaning that its amino acid profile is favorable. When a poor quality protein is fed, most of the amino acids go unutilized, resulting in a great deal of nitrogen compounds that must be handled by the liver and then filtered out of the bloodstream by the kidney. This is very taxing for these vital organs.

Feeding only one food is never a good idea; it’s not balanced. A horse needs a variety of feedstuffs to get a balanced level of nutrients. Alfalfa, though highly nutritious, is best fed along with other roughages (grasses and grass hays) plus grains (if more energy is needed to do work).

I like alfalfa. It is not only a great source of high quality protein, but also high in calcium. It is very low in phosphorus, however, which is why it is important to feed grain or bran with it.

As with any new feed, if you are just starting to feed alfalfa, do so gradually, so your horse’s bacterial flora can adjust to it.

Thanks again for writing. I hope this helps clarify things for you.

All the best,

Dr. Getty