Alfalfa’s high protein and nutrient content make it a welcome addition to the diet of many horses, especially those that do not maintain their weight well and are prone to laminitis or ulcers.
In this article, we discuss the benefits of adding alfalfa to a horse’s diet and whether it’s right for your horse.
What is Alfalfa?
Alfalfa (known as Lucerne in some parts of the world) is a perennial flowering plant that’s leaves are dried and used as livestock feed.
Alfalfa has one of the highest mineral profiles of any land plant as its roots reach hundreds of feet into the ground, not only this but its root nodules contain microorganisms that have the ability to fix nitrogen – producing high-protein feed regardless of soil conditions.
Why is Alfalfa Good for Horses?
Introducing Alfalfa into a horse’s diet can bring a variety of benefits, we’ve explored the main ones below.
Alfalfa has very low starch and water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) content (such as sugars and fructan) which may make it a suitable for option for laminitis prone or excitable horses.
High in Fibre
Naturally high in fibre, protein and calcium, Alfalfa provides a buffer for stomach acid and also helps to extend eating when fed chopped, which is why it’s often recommended for horses prone to gastric ulcers.
Alfalfa is also naturally calcium rich, which plays a huge role in overall bone heath as well as in muscle contraction, blood clotting and enzyme regulation.
High in Protein
Protein is an essential element in a horse’s diet, contributing to healthy hooves, hair, skin, organ tissue, blood and bones, as well as improving muscle tone. Alfalfa has a naturally high protein content, with the perfect balance of amino acids for growth, pregnancy and milk production.
As explained above, alfalfa is naturally high in protein and minerals, which makes it a suitable option for poor doers, pregnant or lactating mares and horses involved in hard work.
It’s also a great source of vitamins A, B and E, as well as Thiamine, Riboflavin, Pantothenic acid, Biotin and Folic acid.