Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Alfalfa Hay for Horses May Contain Toxic Blister Beetles

Equinews.com - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · March 26, 2014

After a long and unusually cold winter, some horse owners are running low on hay and may pick up whatever type of hay is available in order to keep forage in front of their horses until the pastures begin to grow. All hay should be checked for mold before it is fed, and it’s best to introduce the new hay gradually, mixing a little more of the new batch into decreasing amounts of the older hay over the course of several days. This is especially important if horses have been eating grass hay and are going to be switched to something quite different, such as alfalfa.

Alfalfa (lucerne) hay is classified as a high-quality forage for horses, providing significant levels of both energy and calcium. Most horses like the taste and will enthusiastically eat alfalfa when they may only pick through hay of lesser quality. However, owners offering alfalfa to their horses need to be aware of a potential danger: blister beetles. These insects may be picked up as mowed alfalfa is baled. Blister beetles typically inhabit semi-arid regions of the western United States. The hay-producing states known to have the biggest problems with blister beetles are Texas and Oklahoma. To date, blister beetle poisoning has not reportedly been a problem for hay grown in the Treasure Valley region of Idaho...

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