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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. 

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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.

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All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


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

Dear Dr. Getty,

the lady I currently work for feeds her pregnant mares (and all other horses for that matter) alfalfa hay in combination with a sweet feed which is to be fed with mixed or grass hay only. How will this effect the unborn foals? I am already worried about foaling season...
When we first switched over form a mix of timothy and alfalfa hay to alfalfa only we had a few colics and cow paddy manure of course...
Thanks for your input

Where are you from? Ontario

How did you locate this forum? searching the net

Re: alfalfa hay

Hi Uli,

You bring up a very interesting and important topic, that being feeding a pregnant mare and how it affects her foal.

Alfalfa is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, and additional protein and when combined with a grass hay, the result is a high quality protein. But, when fed alone, there is not enough methionine (an essential amino acid) in legumes (and alfalfa is a legume). So, the protein quality in the diet is not adequate with just alfalfa, and it would be best to return to the grass/alfalfa mix.

There is the possibility that the sweet feed that's being offered has additional methionine added. But, the problem with sweet feed is the high sugar and starch content. Too much starch can lead to osteopathic disorders in foals -- this has been well documented by the current research.

So, the solution? Change the feed to one that is low in starch. If you can obtain Triple Crown products, you'll find that they carry several low starch options. And, depending on the feed and how much of it you offer, you may want to add a good multiple/vitamin mineral supplement designed for broodmares. And, finally, mix the grass and legume hays for a better combination of nutrients.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO