Nutrition is an important factor for horse owners when deciding to–or not to–feed their horses alfalfa hay, according to a recent survey of U.S. and Canadian horse owners, funded by the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance’s Alfalfa Checkoff.
Of 700 horse owners surveyed, nearly half feed alfalfa hay because it is a good source of nutrients. But 73% don’t feed alfalfa hay because they believe its protein or overall nutrient content is too high. Essentially, concluded the University of Kentucky researchers who conducted the study, it depends on the horse. Those with higher nutritional needs–hard-working or lactating horses, for instance, can make use of the energy that alfalfa hay offers. Mature or idle horses don’t need the energy and can put on unnecessary weight.
Researchers also surveyed 300 hay producers and asked their experiences in selling hay to horse owners. The goal was to find out how alfalfa hay can be better produced, marketed, and/or distributed so more horse owners will take advantage of its benefits over the grass hay they have preferred to buy.