The Benefits of Feeding Alfalfa in Autumn/Winter
As a horse owner, your main priority is to maintain your horse’s overall well-being all year round, and with autumn and winter fast approaching, new challenges will become apparent in colder weather. As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, you may wonder how to support your horse throughout the coming months. This is where alfalfa can be helpful. Read on as we take a closer look at some of the benefits of introducing alfalfa into your horse’s diet in the autumn and winter.
During autumn and winter, the temperatures drop, and animals like horses require additional energy to maintain body temperature and keep themselves warm. Alfalfa is rich in nutrients and provides a reliable source of energy and protein for your horse. Alfalfa is high in fiber, protein, and calcium. It can be added to your horse’s feed to ensure they have the necessary nutrients to sustain metabolic functions during the colder seasons.
Maintain weight and condition.
As horses require more energy to maintain body temperature in the autumn and winter seasons, it becomes more difficult for them to maintain weight and condition, which can pose a problem for horses that have entered the season underweight or with inadequate fat reserves. Feeding your horse alfalfa in the colder months can make it easier for them to maintain weight, as alfalfa is higher in calories than other types of hay. This can stop the loss of essential body fat and muscle mass while providing horses with a nutrient-packed, high-calorie feed for increased energy that is low in sugar and starch. Alfalfa also contains higher protein levels than other forages, which can support muscle maintenance and growth for overall well-being in the winter.
Supporting digestive health
Alfalfa is fibrous in nature, which promotes healthy digestion. This is particularly important in the winter when horses are more likely to experience digestive discomfort due to reduced physical activity and less available pasture. Alfalfa promotes gut function, which can help prevent conditions like colic and ulcers from developing within the gut. Alfalfa acts as a natural buffer to keep the pH levels in the stomach at an optimal level, and if fed before exercise, it can help reduce acid splash, which can lead to a horse developing ulcers. Like other types of forage, Alfalfa will also result in hindgut fermentation, which keeps your horse warm from the inside out.
Like humans, immune support is essential for horses in the colder months as they deal with wetter, windier weather and a change of diet away from fresh pasture with more conserved forage instead. This is why feeding your horse alfalfa can be beneficial. Alfalfa contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support the immune system’s function. Vitamin C, E, and other trace minerals found in alfalfa can support disease resistance in autumn and winter to benefit your horse’s well-being.
Another benefit that comes with feeding alfalfa in the colder months is that it can have a positive impact on dental health. Chewing properly helps to create an even wear of teeth, which reduces the risk of dental issues. In contrast, eating mixes and cubes doesn’t require the horse to use the full range of jaw movement when chewing, which can result in sharp edges developing. During autumn and winter, your horse will likely spend more time indoors, which means it will have limited access to natural forage. Providing alfalfa in your horse’s feed allows them to maintain dental health and inhibit abnormalities, – ensuring they can eat comfortably.