Medicago sativa better known as alfalfa to you and I, is in the same plant family as peas, beans and clover. It has been cultivated for fodder for horses for over 2000 years originating from Iran and then spreading across the world as Persians, Greeks and Romans expanded their empires and took their horses and their feed with them. There is a reason alfalfa is still used for feeding to horses today and that’s because it is safe and nutritious. Read on to find out more about the specific benefits of alfalfa for horses:
The fibre in alfalfa gives your horse slow release energy which they can use for maintenance, work or putting on weight. Alfa-A Original provides as much energy as a cool mix so for many horses, there is no need to use cereal based feeds at all.
Alfalfa has a very low content of both starch and water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) such as sugars and fructan. When oil is added as a coating, sugar levels are typically less than 5%. Feeds are rarely if ever sugar free as even straw contains some sugar but look for our no added sugar logo to be sure you using the lowest sugar options available.
Protein has historically been thought to be the cause of all evil in horses but research has shown that this is not the case and in fact, high starch or sugar diets are usually the culprits. Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids and these are converted into tissues such as muscle. Feeding alfalfa is a safe way to help build muscle tone
Alfalfa contains nearly three times as much calcium as grass and as it is a plant, the calcium it contains is much more available to the horse than that from inorganic sources such as limestone flour which many supplements are based on. Although rich in some minerals, alfalfa doesn’t contain a full range at the correct levels so a balancer or supplement should be fed alongside.
Independent research has shown that alfalfa is a better buffer than grass forage due to the level of calcium, protein and other components it contains. This means feeding alfalfa will help to regulate acidity in the digestive tract.
Alfalfa is rich in beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body. It also contains vitamin E and the B vitamins Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic acid, Biotin and Folic acid. Alfalfa also contains valuable levels of the trace mineral cobalt that enables the horse to synthesise vitamin B12 which is involved in iron absorption and utilisation.