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Bales of alfalfa hay curing in hay field

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Slow Feed Tip - Feed Grass Hays & Alfalfa Separately

​Take advantage of the least palatable varieties of forage to naturally slow consumption rate by feeding them separately. Immature cuttings of cool season grasses and alfalfa are very palatable and highly digestible (more concentrated source of calories per pound). For most horses, donkeys, goats and other barnyard buddies if you blend palatable and less palatable varieties it will result in the same enthusiasm and rate of consumption.
Three horses eating grass hay from Hay Pillow ground slow feeders.

​Warm season grass hays such as Bermuda/Coastal, Teff and Tiffany are typically less palatable than alfalfa and cool season grasses such as Timothy, Orchard and Rye. In addition, very mature plants tend to contain large amounts of indigestible fiber and tend to be even less palatable; naturally slowing consumption rates. Review A Safer Always Have Hay Source – Mature Grass Hay to learn more. 

If your companions do not have forage available 24/7, try a mature warm season grass hay if available or mature cool season grass in an effective slow feeder such as a bale net or multiple slow feed hay bags as an always have hay source. See our article Healthy Gradual Weight Loss for Horses vs. Fasting & Forage Restriction for more details.

Can alfalfa be slow fed successfully?

Yes (to some degree) and no! Grass hay is optimum for slow feeding because of the much longer stem/leave length. Alfalfa can be challenging to slow feed due to tightly packed flakes, short stems and small leaves. Horses tend to be far more anxious to eat it as quickly as possible due to its high palatability, which can easily result in frustration.

If you are feeding limited amounts of alfalfa in addition to grass hay, it’s not worth the hassle. We recommend feeding it loose in a tub or trough.​

Helpful How-to Resources for Slow Feeding

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Monique Warren, Hay Pillow Founder with the Hay Pillow Slow Feeder product line - standard ground hay pillow, mini hay pillow, hanging hay pillow & horse trailer manger hay pillow

About the Author

Monique Warren invented the Hay Pillow® slow feeder and is the owner of Hay Pillow Inc. ​Warren has been an equine guardian for over forty years and slow-feed advocate for over 10 years. She contributes equine nutrition, digestive and hoof health articles to publications such as Equine Wellness, The Journal, The Naturally Healthy Horse, Natural Horse Magazine, Nicker News, The Horse's Hoof and Miniature Horse World Magazine. Equine nutrition and horses feet are her passions. She resides in Southern California.

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