Feeding alfalfa cubes

Hi all.

I posted a while ago about my horse’s weight, and the general consensus was that it was a muscling issue more than fat.

So for the past few months, I’ve been giving him a little extra beet pulp after I ride and focusing on fitness in the rides. He has filled out a little more but I still want more topline.

At this point, after a very brief discussion with my vet, she suggested that he may always have issues building muscle due to EPM last year even though he’s recovered.

Her suggestion was to start with more alfalfa. He gets 2lbs of pellets split into feedings already, so I’m thinking of just adding cubes to his beet pulp.

Would that be a horrible idea? Normally I throw a scoop of dry pulp into a 5g bucket, add some electrolytes, and fill the bucket. By the time my ride is over its all soaked. That way he gets plenty of water and electrolytes after a ride too. Would cubes soak fast enough?

If it’s not an awful idea, how on earth do I measure how much to feed? Is a grain scoop accurate for measuring how much to give? I was planning on just adding a lb at first to see if he likes it.

Other thoughts/ideas welcome! I do not have access to bales of anything, only pellets and cubes.

I found that the alfalfa/oat and alfalfa/timothy cubes soaked better and quicker than the pure alfalfa. The pure alfalfa cubes were harder and denser ( I guess because of more leaf in the cube). I never could get them really soft and after one horse got a fractured tooth ( which may NOT have been from the cubes but who knows) I stopped using pure alfalfa cubes. These were Standlee. Your experiences may differ.

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Here is how you weigh feed.

Choose a cup or scoop. Get a little food scale. Fill your cup or scoop and see how much it weighs when full. Deduct the weight of the empty container

I don’t particularly like scoops for measuring because they are large and irregular shaped and hard to fill exactly each time.

I like yougurt containers and know how much each feed weighs in a full container. Oats is more, alfalfa cubes less.

My local alfalfa cubes are mush in one hour.

If I was in your shoes, which I have been, I’d work on replacing all that beet pulp with alfalfa cubes.

IME I’ve found cubes to soak sufficiently in an hour or so. If your horse is dentally challenged you might soak longer.

At one point I kept a Rubbermaid storage bin full of cubes in my truck and a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. I’d roll up to the boarding barn, start my cubes soaking and then dump to horse right before I left. If I was in a rush I’d start the cubes soaking at home before I went to barn.

At one point, I had my horse eating two 3 quart scoops of cubes (measured dry) daily. In addition to his grain and regular hay. Your horse may not need quite that much, but I wouldn’t hesitate to feed that quantity to a horse that I was hoping to muscle up.


No dental issues fortunately, I want to soak because he’s bad at drinking water.

If he does well with adding cubes to pulp, I would definitely consider replacing the beet pulp entirely. But he’s a fairly hot horse and has previously gotten nutty on alfalfa, so I’m trying to feed as much and as little as possible.

Sounds like more experiments are in order! Might need a little trial and error. It usually soaks for 60-90 minutes depending on how fast I’m moving, so I might have to use timothy/alfalfa if it’s softer - but only one way to find out I guess!

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I would never feed cubes without soaking first. Some feed it with no issues dry but I wouldn’t want to take that chance.


Oh I agree 100%. Especially since this horse has choked before. But that’s the motivation behind soaked cubes versus more pellets in his grain. Although I suppose I could theoretically soak pellets?

You can definitely soak pellets (whether feed or hay pellets). I soak any kind of hard feed my horse gets because he eats like one of those Hungry-Hungry Hippo toys and though he hasn’t choked yet, he’s a prime candidate.

I find that the Standlee alfafla/timothy pellets do help fill them out a little and they soak up pretty quickly, especially in warm/hot water.

Other than that, amino acids are a topline’s best friend in my experience.

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Triamino is the next plan if this doesn’t do it!

Ok so I already bought a bag of alfalfa cubes. It would take me 10 minutes to switch it for alfalfa/timothy pellets, should I? Will the pellets soak fast enough? I always imagined them taking longer than cubes. I can get alfalfa/timothy cubes too if need be.

If he’s had issues with alfalfa in the past, I might skip it entirely and just try adding the Tri-Amino.

I have found that cubes soak faster than the pellets, so I prefer the cubes. Others here will tell you differently so YMMV. I say try them, see how long they take and if it will work for your schedule.

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Alfalfa/timothy cubes would work too. I just liked the pellets because they’re easier to deal with to me. I would start mine soaking in very warm water, and either wait a few minutes before going to get my guy from the pasture, or either bring him on in and groom him first, and they were always ready for him to eat by then.

He’s had issues before, but it was also under very different circumstances - he had ulcers, was stalled at night, and was eating much more grain. He’s currently on pasture, getting less grain, and had overall chilled out a lot. I’m willing to at least try alfalfa.

I’m going to get a much bigger tub for him to eat out of later today, I’ll switch to timothy/alfalfa while I’m there. Or if I’m totally unmotivated after work I’ll do it tomorrow lol.

An electric tea kettle is your friend. The cubes I use are ready in about 10 minutes. I then add ice to cool them down prior to feeding them to my horse.


I loved that game!

I too am in the soak everything camp.

I use the Seminole cubes now and they will start to break down fairly quickly, as I discovered one day when I failed to mix feed the night before, compared to the Standlee cubes I used when I boarded. I soak my feed in the fridge between meals now that I have horses at home.


I’ve been feeding my older horse alfalfa cubes for years. How fast they soak to softness very much depends on the brand and the size of the chopped pieces they use. Some I can break dry cubes apart with my hands, others I’d need a hammer. Hot water makes them puff up pretty quickly - as in you can see them expanding. Once they’re soaked I dump them in a large feed pan and spread them out. They don’t take long to cool enough for safe eating.


I still have half a bag of the cubes that will break a tooth. They are unbelievably hard and take forever to soak! I suppose I could use them up with some hot water rather than throw them away; my TB mare likes them but I was afraid of choke. I thought that was how they all were, and haven’t bought any since. Maybe I’ll try again - I think they are Standlee.

I wouldn’t mix beet pulp and alfalfa only because it sounds gross that way. :slight_smile:

My mare gets a mash of beet pulp pellets and alfalafa cubes to carry her supplements salt and flax. She loves the mix. The beet pulp expands like crazy to make her think she has a huge meal and the alfalfa gives flavor. They mix wonderfully, I haven’t met a horse that doesn’t like the mix, and hot top water turns them to mush in under an hour.

You need to experiment with measurements so you get maximum expansion but not too much leftover gravy.

Oh and I use a lid with my bucket. It’s a 5 gallon plastic paint bucket from the hardware store.

First test run is done. I exchanged for standlee timothy/alfalfa cubes, and this morning I added a lb to his pulp. I went to Walmart for a scale to be sure lol, it’s in my tack trunk and very ready to use for future.

We did a jump school today, so between setting jumps and everything else it soaked around 2.5 hours in cold hose water. When I checked on it at 1 hr, there was still some hard center bits but they were rapidly disintegrating. It was total mush by the time I fed, no hard or recognizable lumps! Pony loved it too!

Actually he loved it a bit too much lol. Any ideas to contain the mess? A 5g bucket is no longer enough!

I think I’ll keep him on 1lb for at least a week or 2. Then maybe I’ll try 2lb for 2 weeks, and reevaluate then if need be.

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I feed in a large flat rubber feed pan. Portable washable easy to eat from