Al­falfa Myths vs. Facts

Trail Rider - - YOUR HEALTHY HORSE -

Myth: The high pro­tein in al­falfa causes os­teo­chon­dri­tis dis­se­cans (OCD), a joint dis­ease of young horses. Fact: High pro­tein doesn’t cause OCD. Rather, low pro­tein is a risk fac­tor for OCD. How­ever, it’s true that the very un­bal­anced min­eral pro­file in al­falfa could con­trib­ute to OCD. Myth: The high cal­cium in al­falfa can prevent OCD and other bone prob­lems in de­vel­op­ing horses. Fact: Cal­cium is im­por­tant to de­vel­op­ing bone, but so is phos­pho­rus, mag­ne­sium, pro­tein, and the trace min­er­als. Ad­e­quate min­eral levels, in cor­rect pro­por­tions, is the key. Myth: Al­falfa’s high pro­tein causes kid­ney prob­lems. Fact: High pro­tein isn’t harm­ful to the kid­neys. How­ever, ex­tra pro­tein is me­tab­o­lized to am­mo­nia, which must be ex­creted by the kid­neys. To han­dle this ex­tra de­mand, your horse will drink more wa­ter and make more urine than he would oth­er­wise. Myth: Al­falfa’s high pro­tein makes a horse “hot.” Fact: For rea­sons that re­ally aren’t clear, some horses are more en­er­getic when be­ing fed al­falfa — but it isn’t the pro­tein. Myth: Al­falfa causes heaves or al­ler­gies. Fact: Al­falfa is no more likely to cause an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion than any other type of hay. Molds grow­ing in the bales can cause res­pi­ra­tory tract symp­toms, but the same molds can –– and do –– grow in any type of hay.

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