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Soaking It Up: What Every New Horse Owner Should Know About Soaking Alfalfa Cubes

by Hugh Snyder

Alfalfa cubes are a popular choice for feeding horses, but they aren't without their own special considerations. While some horses can chew alfalfa cubes without any problems, there are some horses who will likely need some help chewing and digesting the cubes. The most common way to help your horse eat alfalfa cubes is to soak them in water. This softens the alfalfa and makes it easier to eat. If you're new to owning horses, here's a look at what you should know about soaking alfalfa cubes.

When Do You Need to Soak the Alfalfa Cubes?

If your horse has a health condition that affects his or her digestion, soaking alfalfa cubes for about a half-hour or so before feeding time can help make them easier to eat and less difficult to digest. For horses with respiratory conditions, soaking is also helpful. It dampens the dust that is naturally present in dry alfalfa, which prevents that dust from irritating the horse's respiratory system.

Sometimes, it's even helpful to soak the alfalfa cubes for horses who don't have health concerns. For example, if your horse doesn't mind eating the cubes when they're soaked, consider putting hot water over the cubes about 20 minutes before morning feeding time on particularly cold mornings. Just as you might enjoy hot oatmeal to warm you up on those mornings, your horse is likely to enjoy a nice warm breakfast as well!

How Do I Know if My New Horse Needs Soaked Alfalfa Cubes?

If you've just taken in or bought a new horse and you want to see if you need to soak the cubes, there's an easy way to do that. Start by hand-feeding the horse a few cubes and watch closely to see how easily he or she can eat them. If there seems to be a struggle, soak them before each feeding. If it seems like they are going down easily enough, start with small feedings of dry cubes.

Observe the feeding to make sure that your horse eats all of it, and then gradually start increasing the feed amount until you reach a full standard serving for the horse's size and appetite. If you notice any signs of struggle at any point, try soaking the cubes to see if it makes a difference.

How Much Water Do You Add?

The amount of water you need for soaking alfalfa cubes will vary based on the preferences of your horse. Some horses will prefer their cubes soaked heavily in water, while others are a bit pickier and don't want them as soupy. You'll have to experiment a bit to see just how your horse prefers it.