Hi there, I have a question regarding Lucerne Cubes. I have started to add a 1kg scoop of Lucerne chaff with 1kg scoop of Lucerne Cubes to my horses morning and night feed as our grazing is low and roughage is expensive.
My question is this, and it seems like other people have no idea what I mean, how much normal (bale Lucerne) is equal to say 1kg of the cubes? I don't know much about the cubes but the Lucerne chaff is very dusty and don't want to feed to much of it because my horses waste it. I like lots of roughage in my horses diet, I feel that is most natural. How much would you recommend to feed of both products?
My horses get the Equifeeds conditioner meal, mixed with the chaff and cubes and 50g of full fat soya. Also grass bales morning and night. All are in good condition.
To work out how much Lucerne is packed into one cube vs how much is found in a normal bale of Lucerne is very difficult indeed, and perhaps the supplier would be able to tell you. I would think that there is more Lucerne as such jam packed into a cube, and as you say, by feeding the loose bale , there is more wastage than if you were feeding the pellet. What would be interesting to me would be to compare the fibre content of the two feeds, unfortunately, that would only be possible by sending samples to a laboratory for testing. Does the Lucerne cube bag have an information label – it should by law?
Supplementing with Lucerne can work well in winter when grazing is poor and even the quality of roughage available is less than in summer. I would not reduce the amount of other roughage your horse is getting in the day, simply because one is feeding Lucerne cubes. In other words, I would not use the Lucerne cubes as a substitute for his normal roughage. Horses evolved to keep eating small amounts of food all day long. By allowing them access to roughage all day long, you are keeping them in a more natural state and they will be less susceptible to health problems as well as behavior problems related to boredom and hunger. In fact, did you know that a horse does not have a gall bladder like we do? Bile is secreted into his digestive system continuously, and cannot be stored for release when he eats a meal? That means he needs to keep nibbling all day long (or at least a good portion of the day) to keep his digestive tract healthy. If grazing outside is very poor or not available at all, I would suggest purchasing a large round bale of Eragrostis or a similar hay, and keeping it in the area where your horse is turned out during the day. (ideal if your horse is in a large paddock – if you can keep it under some kind of shelter, so much better!) Your horse is then free to eat as much roughage as his body needs and will keep him busy for quite a long time! If he is in a small paddock, he will need to be given hay while out. Keeping horses is expensive, but if you try to manage them well, you can cut costs and reduce wastage. For instance, use a teff manger outside in the paddock (even a drum sawn in half with a rubber hose top so the horse does not cut himself on the edge, will do well) instead of throwing it on the ground, and that will help it keep longer. By cleaning out the roughage your horses did not finish overnight and putting it out for him to finish in the day instead of just throwing it out with the stable bedding you can save on roughage as well. Use teff nets (or make them) with smaller holes. Not only will it keep your horse busy for longer, it will reduce the mouthfuls of teff coming out of the nett and less should fall to the floor. I like to build deep hay mangers in the stables on floor level. The horse eats more naturally with his head down, with less bits falling into his eyes and face like with a manger or a teff nett too high. There is no fear that he will get tangled in his net and there is not much wastage because the horse eats over the manger and most bits just fall back in. They are very easy to clean out and unless your horse decides to poo in his manger, it is very clean as well, meaning you can re-use any uneaten hay. Getting hay into the manger is much quicker than a net – you simply throw a slice of hay in!
Work out how much your full fat soya is costing you. You should get the same results by feeding vegetable oil. (Although these days even oil is getting really expensive!) Instead of the Lucerne and Full fat Soya, you could also substitute with sugar beet. Sugar beet is a super feed and sits in between a forage and a cereal. It is slightly lower in protein than Lucerne but still high in energy with loads of roughage. Do some sums to see what would be cheaper for you. If you have a neighbor with horses, try to buy your roughage together, as you could negotiate discount if you buy more at once as a bulk order – the same with your hard feed. If you buy together with your neighbor, you could get some bulk discount.
Your horses are in good condition, so I think what you are doing is working for you. Try to think about ways that you could save money or prevent wastage instead of substituting one type of roughage for less of another.