Featured Forage Publication: Alfalfa High-Quality Hay for Horses

Alfalfa is a widely adapted perennial forage legume and is the most important forage legume grown in the United States. It has the highest yield potential and feeding value of all adapted forage legumes. It produces more protein per acre than any other crop. Although predominantly fed to horses as hay, alfalfa can also be fed chopped (as chaff), cubed, or pelleted. Alfalfa and/or alfalfa grass hay is palatable and is often a hay of preference for horses. Quality alfalfa hay has high protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. It is highly digestible and usually contains more digestible nutrients than grass hays, such as timothy and orchardgrass. Alfalfa is also a popular horse hay since it is widely available. It is the fourth most widely grown crop in the United States and is the only forage species produced and sold in every state.

This publication describes the factors affecting the nutritional value of alfalfa hay as well as the horse’s digestive system and nutritional needs. It also has information on purchasing, storing, and feeding alfalfa hay; and uses science to discuss myths and facts of feeding horses.

~ Authors include UK’s Laurie Lawrence and Garry Lacefield and can be downloaded here.