Alfalfa for Horses Pros And Cons – Is Alfalfa A Wise Choice?

What do you feed your horse as daily food? Does the daily food contain Alfalfa? Alfalfa is actually legume-type hay. It’s a nutrient-rich forage that is often used as hay or pasture for horses. Therefore, Alfalfa is familiar for its high productivity and super nutritious value.

Alfalfa for Horses Pros And Cons

Most horse owners as you prefer it as major horse food for certain nutrients. Alfalfa is undoubtedly an ideal horse food. That is not to say that it does not have any negative aspects. Some important facts about Alfalfa will definitely help you to become an ideal horse nutritionist.

As a perfect horse keeper, you should know about the food that your equine is eating or you’re planning to feed. Let’s take a look at how is Alfalfa for horses and its pros and cons.

Nutrition Effects of Alfalfa for Horses

Alfalfa is a very nutritious horse feed that is widely available and is the recommended hay for horses. Horses require a forage-based feed that contains at least 50% hay. Large amounts of soluble carbohydrates (grain) in their diet are intolerable to them. As a result, alfalfa hay in horse feed cannot be overlooked.

Some nutritional effects of Alfalfa are discussed below:

Horses also require a lot of nutrition while working and lactating. Because of its high calcium content, Alfalfa is a valuable horse feed for mares in late pregnancy and early lactation. Therefore, a good quality pasture must meet a significant nutritional requirement for growing horses.

Also, because of its neutral thermal composition and bitter flavor, horses adore this leafy, green hay. The bitter taste aids in detoxification. Along with these, Alfalfa helps excess dry moisture in the body, so certain parasites and molds can’t boom.

Additionally, alfalfa has a high relative feed value, as well. It also contains bioflavonoids and is a strong source of vitamins A, D, and K. Horses require these vitamins because they are necessary for bone health. Bioflavonoids are also required. Antioxidants, such as bioflavonoids, protect cells from injury.

Alfalfa is suitable for horses with stomach ulcers. It functions as a stomach acid buffer for six hours after eating. Enzymes in fresh alfalfa hay aid in the digestion of proteins, lipids, and carbs.

Furthermore, it has a high digestibility and protein content while low in fiber unlike other hay. Therefore, Alfalfa is more easily digested than grass hay. It can help horses keep a healthy digestive tract since it has enough fiber.

Also, it has thermal neutrality, which means it has neither a heating nor cooling impact on the body. Besides, Alfalfa also helps to maintain a healthy gut by removing excess acids from the blood. It is a great horse feed because of all of these characteristics.

However, if not balanced with less nutritious phosphorous-containing meals, Alfalfa’s high quantities of protein, calcium, and simple carbohydrates may occur disadvantages.

In certain horses, elevated calcium levels can cause enteroliths to grow in their intestines. Alfalfa should not be the main source of nutrition for developing horses since it allows them to grow too quickly. Furthermore, an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus might damage bone formation.

6 Potential Benifits of Alfalfa

  • Tasty to maximum horses: It’s seen that an average of eight horses out of ten like to eat Alfalfa. In some rare cases, a few horses may have an allergy to it.
  • Available all the year-round: Alfalfa is a versatile crop that can be grown in many different climates and soil types, making it a popular choice for farmers and ranchers around the world. It takes only 60/70 days to grow up. Easily, you can get a bulk-size package to your nearby stores.
  • Easily digestible: Comparing other food supplements like grass hay, Alfalfa is more digestible to horses. So, the chances of an upset stomach are less.
  • Enough fiber: Though Alfalfa isn’t rich in fiber, the ratio isn’t too low. So, horses get enough fiber as they need according to their body system.
  • Rich in calories: Alfalfa is a highly nutritious forage crop that is rich in calories. In addition to this, when used as a cover crop or green manure, it can improve soil fertility and help to suppress weeds.
  • Rich in nutrition: Alfalfa is a nutrient-rich forage crop that provides many benefits for livestock. When used as horses’ feed, it is high in protein, making it an excellent choice for horses that need to gain weight or produce milk. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Alfalfa for Horses The Bad, and The Not So Good

  • Sensitivity: Alfalfa is a highly nutritious hay for horses, but it can also be a source of digestive upset for some animals. Since it’s a legume, and like all legumes, it contains high levels of natural sugars. For some horses, this can lead to increased levels of gas and bloating. In addition, Alfalfa is a very fibrous plant, and some horses may have difficulty digesting a large amount of fiber present in the forage.
  • High calcium content: One of the biggest cons of Alfalfa for horses is its high calcium content. This can actually lead to several health problems, including kidney stones and other urinary tract issues. If your horse is prone to these problems, it’s best to steer clear of Alfalfa.
  • Hard to cure or bale: Alfalfa is also a very high-maintenance crop, and it requires a lot of water and fertilizer to produce. This can make it difficult to grow in drought-prone areas. It can be difficult to store and transport, and it can be more expensive than other forages.
  • Grazing: Another potential issue with Alfalfa is that it can attract pests, like flies, so it is important to keep an eye out for infestations. Additionally, Alfalfa can be a dustier option than other forages, so it is important to ensure that your horse has access to clean water to avoid respiratory issues.
  • High nutritious contents: One of the biggest concerns with Alfalfa is that it can be high in sugar and calories, which can lead to weight gain and other issues like laminitis. It is also important to be aware that Alfalfa can cause digestive upset in some horses, so it is important to introduce it slowly and watch for any signs of discomfort.
  • Intestinal stones: The other downside of Alfalfa is that it is high in calcium, which can cause problems for horses that are prone to urinary calculi (stones).
  • HYPP: Not safe for the horses with HYPP (hyperkalemic periodic paralysis).
  • OCD: Possibility of causes of OCD (osteochondritis dissecans).

Up Next: Why is alfalfa bad for horses?

Our Proposed Top 2 Best Alfalfa Supplement for Horses in 2022

1. Premium Alfalfa Pellet by Standlee Hay Company

Standlee Hay Company’s Premium Alfalfa Pellets are the best nutritious option for your horses. These pellets are made from premium alfalfa hay that is grown in the rich soils of the United States, and they are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Their premium alfalfa pellets are well-known for consistency in quality and are free of dust and mold. The Standlee’s alfalfa pallets are so greenery and full of fragrant. Most horses are willing to have a treat with this alfalfa pallet for the good taste.

Specially, Standlee don’t use any binders rather 100% pure alfalfa. So, you can easily make the crumble of alfalto to mix with any other treat or even in soil to fertilize. You can feed the pallet in varieties of ways, like just giving the pallets as regular food or giving them as a treat with other ingredients.

Usually, you can mix mashed banana or molasses in alfalfa dust to make homemade horse treat. After mixing, bake them to as cookies. Besides, you don’t need to moisten them before feeding horses, even to seniors.

Stanlee’s alfalfa pallets work like magic for the horses who suffer from upset stomach due to irregular gastric. Even if the horses are allergic to Alfalfa, hay can eat the pellets with no issues. You can apply also as manure composition.

They are also a good source of nutrition for other animals, such as goats and rabbits. Besides, the pellets are easy to store and transport. They are also less likely to spoil than other types of feed.

Their products are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to meet the needs of your operation. No matter what your needs are, Standlee Hay Company has the right product for you.

Highlighted Features:

  • 100% alfalfa with no binders, so equines’ health has no risk
  • Easy to crumble, so you can make dust to mix with other ingredients
  • Suitable to horse’s teeth so horses of all ages, even seniors, can eat safely
  • Great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that ensure a good health
  • Excellent alternative for horses that are allergic to Alfalfa hay
  • Easy to store and transport
  • Also useable for other herbivores such as rabbits, goats, etc., and for fertilizer


  • Some horses may have an allergy
  • A little expensive
  • Possibility of fly irritation

2. Manna Pro Alfalfa/Molasses Bite-Sized Nuggets

Manna Pro Alfalfa/Molasses Bite-Sized Nuggets are a specially formulated treatment for horses that are high in fiber and low in sugar. Their tasty nuggets are highly recommended to those who are looking for a healthy treat for their horse.

The nuggets are made with real Alfalfa and molasses and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Molasses is a natural sweetener that is high in sugar and calories. They are also a good source of fiber, which is important for a horse’s digestive health. Moreover, they are also free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

The nuggets are a great size for horses to eat, and they are very tasty. Horses love them as a great treat. After all, this super reward is also very affordable. Besides, Manna Pro’s Alfalfa/Molasses Nuggets are a suitable treat for horses of all ages.

Highlighted Features:

  • No artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives so that your equine’s health has no risk
  • Fresh Alfalfa that is enriched with potassium, iron, vitamins, and minerals that must meet your horse’s nutrition
  • Rich in calories that ensure your horse’s demand
  • Attractive small packets that are convenient to take away anywhere
  • Easy and affordable treat, so take no bother offering treats every now and then


  • Excessive calories may cause overweight issues and bone problems if the nuggets are served in a large amount
  • Sugary content risks developing laminitis, a potentially crippling and often painful disease of the hooves

When Alfalfa Is Ready to Feed Your Horse

Like any other feeding program, your horse’s forage ration should be carefully considered as a whole. As Alfalfa is high-protein hay, the nutritional value of the grains or other supplementation that you feed along with it must be evaluated.

Alfalfa plants go from a vegetative to a blooming stage. Fiber content rises during this period, whereas crude protein and digestibility fall. Hay at this stage is generally leafier and therefore less stemmy.

We usually get the most nutritious Alfalfa during early-cut, while the plant is budding and before it blossoms. As the plant grows, protein and total digestible nutrients decrease.

If you wish to feed Alfalfa to a horse but don’t have a special need for its high calorie and protein contents, such as elderly horses or horses with certain health issues, late maturity trimmings of Alfalfa are a good choice. On the other hand, early-cut alfalfa suits those horses are too active and burn a lot of energy.


No doubt, Alfalfa is a highly nutritious forage for horses. However, as it’s a legume, and like all legumes, it contains high levels of natural sugars and other nutrients. For some horses, this can lead to increased levels of gas and bloating. In addition, some horses may have difficulty digesting a large amount of fiber present in the forage.

For these reasons, it is important to gradually introduce Alfalfa into your horse’s diet and monitor for any signs of digestive distress.

Finally, I hope that you’ve gathered a good concept about Alfalfa for horses; its pros and cons. Therefore, I also explained how your horse’s health will be safe feeding alfalfa and how much-matured Alfalfa is safe. Always learn about the food what are you giving them.

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