In small farm settings where space is not always abundant, food storage can be a real issue. This is especially true over the winter months when access to hay is not as readily available and you have to stock up early to keep plenty of food on hand for your horses. One of the more simple solutions lies in the form of compacted roughage, such as alfalfa cubes. If you have been accustomed to feeding horses only hay from a bail and natural grain, the idea of compacted food sources can leave you with a lot of questions. Here are a few of the most common.
How should alfalfa cubes be stored?
Ideally, alfalfa cubes should be stored in a cool, dry place that is free from humidity. A large bin with a lid is common, but it does not keep moist air from making its way inside to the cubes. With too much moisture and humidity, alfalfa cubes will swell and be prone to mold growth. Find a spot out of direct sunlight, or even tucked away in your barn, for a large 50 gallon barrel with a lid. And be sure to consistently stir the contents inside to prevent aged cubes from staying at the bottom.
Do compressed food sources contain additives or preservatives?
One of the best things about compressed and cubed food sources is they do not contain anything except the natural food source itself. With alfalfa cubes, the hay is chopped into somewhat smaller pieces and a steam press is used to apply heavy pressure. With the steam and pressure, a cubed shape is formed. This makes the compressed food safe for consumption by providing the same nutrition that the horses are accustomed to eating.
Should the cubes be fed dry or soaked with water to soften them?
The compressed alfalfa cubes can be quite dense and dry. Some horses will enjoy the new texture and have no problems with chewing the cubes on their own without them being saturated. However, younger horses with poorly developed teeth or older horses with dental issues will need the cubes to be soaked in water before feeding. If you do need to soak the cubes, they will soften faster in lukewarm water.
Keeping your horses healthy is all about providing them with the best nutrition. When you have access to compact food sources, you can always ensure you have just what you need for healthy horses, even when you have little space for storage.