Alfalfa cubes are just what the name implies -- alfalfa hay that has been made into cubes.
This is accomplished by chopping the alfalfa hay into smaller particles and then compressing it into cube form. Because the particles of hay still have a fairly large size the cubes are still considered long stem forage.
This longer particle size is what allows them to be used as a hay replacement, because the horse’s digestive system still utilizes them in the same manner as hay.
One question that is often brought up when a horse owner decides to feed alfalfa cubes is
”Do the cubes need to be soaked prior to feeding?”
The short answer is that it depends on the horse.
Any horse that has a history of choke should have all feed soaked, including cubes. It is also a wise idea to soak alfalfa cubes for younger and older horses that might have trouble chewing the large cubes.
I let the horse dictate whether or not they are soaked.
If you were to watch my older mare eat soaked alfalfa cubes, you’d think I’d starved the poor girl, she gobbles them up so fast. However, leave them unsoaked, and she’ll carefully pick around them to eat all her other feed, and leave the cubes sitting in the feed pan...if she doesn’t pick them up and throw them out!
On the other hand, my gelding is affectionately called “Mr. Hoover” and will eat the cubes wet or dry...so I feed dry cubes to him and the other horses that will eat them.
If I am introducing cubes into the diet of a horse that has never had them, I will offer 1 or 2 cubes dry and watch how he eats them. If he eats them with no problem, I feed his dry, and monitor to make sure he continues to eat all of them every meal as the amounts are increased.
If the horse won’t eat them dry, or won’t clean up the entire serving of them during meal time after the amount has been increased, I try soaking them. A lot of times it’s a guessing game as to how much water is required. Some horses like them soupy while others will eat them better if they are just moist enough to be soft.
When feeding alfalfa cubes to replace hay, you should feed 1 pound of cubes to replace 1 pound of hay.
Alfalfa cubes can be found at most farm stores, though in my experience they might be hard to find in the smaller stores. They are usually sold in 50 pound bags. I advise calling ahead first to ask if the store carries them or can order them in for you. Also make sure to inquire what size bag the cubes are sold in -- there are small bags (2-3 pounds) that are sold for rabbit owners, and those wouldn’t last most horses more than a day!