Last updated on March 11th, 2023 at 07:18 am
All classes of horses’ feeding regimens are built around forage. Numerous nutrients are included in fodder, and forage’s fiber content is crucial for preserving the horse’s digestive system’s health. The normal feed sources for horses are pasture and hay, but when growing or harvesting factors restrict their accessibility, horse lovers must take other forage sources into account. Many owners turn to alfalfa cubes as a supplement. Because of this, we get many people asking us how many alfalfa cubes equal a flake. In this article, we will answer this question, along with telling you everything you need to know about feeding your horse alfalfa cubes.
As an alternative to feeding long-stem hay, forage cubes are becoming more and more popular. Depending on availability, cubes may be made entirely of alfalfa, partially of grass, or, more recently, partially of a complete corn plant. Depending on the local suppliers, different products may or may not be available. Alfalfa cubes made entirely of alfalfa are the product that is most widely accessible to horse owners.
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How Many Alfalfa Cubes Equal a Flake? It Depends
So, how many alfalfa cubes equal a flake? Well, that depends on the size and weight of the cubes. Let me explain.
A flake of hay typically weighs approximately 5 pounds. However, this weight can differ depending on the kind of grass. A flake of hay should weigh between 4 to 6 pounds.
Thus, approximately 5 lbs of alfalfa cubes are equal to a flake of hay.
So, exactly how many alfalfa cubes are in 5 lbs will depend on the size and weight of the cubes.
What Are Alfalfa Cubes For Horses?
If you’re new to owning a horse, you may be wondering what are alfalfa cubes for horses? Long stem hay is dried, cut, and compacted into cubes, either alfalfa or a combination of alfalfa and timothy hay. These are typically marketed in 50 lb bags that are simple to transport and store, making them easier to find in areas where the hay production was good. There might also be alfalfa and whole corn plants mixed together to make cubes.
If feeding the mixed grass or corn plant/alfalfa cubes to adult maintenance horses as their only source of forage, this is advised. Pure alfalfa cubes will have more protein and calcium than a typical adult horse requires, but as long as the horse’s kidneys are healthy, they won’t harm it. Alfalfa cubes are better suited as a partial feed substitute for growing horses or lactating mares. If only low-quality hay is available in small amounts, as little as 2 to 6 lbs of cubes per day can be utilized as a “hay extender,” although up to 15 pounds or more can be fed each day.
As with any feedstuff, there are advantages and disadvantages that must be considered when making your decision to use alfalfa cubes in feeding programs for your horses.
Advantages of Alfalfa Cubes
- Ease to handle. Alfalfa cubes can be moved mechanically in large quantities.
- Reduces feed waste. Even when fed on the ground, cubes do not waste as much as long-stem hay. When given long-stem hay, horses can pick out the leaves and stems they wish to eat, causing waste. This won’t happen with alfalfa cubes.
- Decreased dust. For horses with specific respiratory issues, cubes make a decent alternative to hay because they have little dust.
- Decreased storage requirements. Since cubes are denser than hay, less storage space is needed.
- Easier to transport. Alfalfa cubes are easier for horse owners to transport to exhibitions or on trail rides since they take up less space in the trailer.
- Easier to control feed intake. Long-stem hay is more difficult for the horse owner to monitor and control the daily intake than cubed forage.
- Consistent nutrient. Compared to hay, the nutritional levels in cubes are typically more stable. A minimum nutritious content is assured when alfalfa cubes are offered.
- Decreased transportation costs. Since cubes are denser than hay, trucks can be loaded to their maximum permitted load. With hay, this is not always possible. If the delivery distance stays the same, shipping expenses for cubes can be decreased.
Disadvantages of Alfalfa Cubes
- Feed intakes need to be monitored. To prevent overweight horses and, more critically, to prevent severe digestive problems, cubes must be fed in a controlled manner.
- Higher cost. Processing the cubes adds expense. Also, depending on how far the feed must travel from the source of production to the point of sale, shipping may also contribute to the cost of the feed. The western U.S., western Canada, and Ontario are the main suppliers of cubed alfalfa.
- Special storage. To avoid spoiling brought on by too much moisture, alfalfa cubes need a storage location that offers protection from the elements.
In order to remember how many alfalfa cubes equal a flake, just remember that a flake equals about 5 lbs.
All horse classes can benefit from using alfalfa cubes as their sole source of roughage. Alfalfa cubes are particularly useful in feeding plans for broodmares and young growing horses due to the high nutrient values for energy, calcium, protein, and vitamins. Additionally, in an effort to lessen their horses’ exposure to mold and dust, owners may give their horses alfalfa cubes if they have specific respiratory issues. For all horses, but especially for the older horse at maintenance, controlling daily alfalfa cube intake is crucial to prevent overfeeding.