[vision_content_box style="lime-green" title="All About Alfalfa"]
Also known as “Lucerne”, alfalfa is a perennial flowering legume related to the bean family. The earliest recorded use of alfalfa is by the Persians almost 3000 years ago to sustain horses over long military campaigns. Today, alfalfa is still recognized as providing the highest feed value of all the common hay crops for horses – thus it is called the “Queen of Forage”.
The alfalfa plant is quite different from grass. It has small clover-like leaves and grows like a bush to several feet in height. Alfalfa can be a rich source of quality protein because of its unique ability to grab nitrogen from the air and convert it into protein with the aid of specialty microbes at its roots. With roots that can grow 20 feet deep, the alfalfa plant is very good at soaking up trace minerals and elements. These minerals are then stored in the leaf of the plant, making it easy to digest by the animal.
An Excellent Source of Protein
Alfalfa can be an excellent source of protein. All horses and livestock need protein, but especially those that are growing, lactating or adults in high performance work. Protein also plays an important function in building muscle tone. Animals that do not receive sufficient levels of protein can experience stunted growth and development.
An Excellent Source of Calcium, Vitamins & Minerals
Alfalfa is a rich source of important vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, B and E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Biotin and Folic Acid. It is also an excellent source of Calcium, which supports growth and development of healthy bones and hooves. Alfalfa has more than twice the calcium of grass and is easily absorbed into the body. If you or your nutritionist is concerned about achieving an optimum calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1, simply add a small amount of oats, which are low in calcium and high in phosphorous to round out the horse’s diet.
Energy for Performance
Alfalfa is an excellent source of high-quality fiber and provides slow-release energy that can meet most of the daily requirements of light working horses. This benefit allows nutritionists to reduce the amount of starch from grains in the diet thereby reducing the risk of digestive upsets, such as colic.
Low Starch and Sugar Content
Chaffhaye Alfalfa has a very low percentage of starch, sugars and fructans. When lightly misted with molasses and packed into air-tight bags, the level of simple sugars in Chaffhaye is below 3%, far below the sugar level of most growing pasture, or so called “low sugar” commercial feeds.
Neutralizer in the Digestive System
Alfalfa can act as a buffering agent to regulate the pH (acidity) level in the digestive tract. Without providing a buffer to the pH level in the gut, animals can suffer from higher incidence of ulcers, colic and laminitis. Recent studies have shown that alfalfa both prevented ulcers in horses with no indication of problems and helped horses who already had a situation of ulcers.