Last Updated on February 14, 2023
Ever get sick of hauling hay bales around the barn? Alfalfa cubes are a mess-free, convenient alternative to hay, but it can be difficult to know how much to give your horse. How many alfalfa cubes equal a flake of hay, and how do you feed cubes to horses? We’ve got everything you need to know right here!
There are many pros and cons of both hay and cubes, which I will discuss throughout this article. I will also discuss standard feeding quantities of hay and of cubes, and how to convert measurements of one into measurements of the other.
Hay Cubes, Compare and Contrast
All horse owners could tell you what it is like to deal with a bale of hay. Bales of hay are heavy, messy, and itchy. You end up dropping a third of the flake on the ground before it makes it into your horse’s stall. Your horse mixes a third of it into his shavings, and maybe a third of the bale actually makes it into your horse’s digestive tract.
Then, you have to go back and sweep the aisle where the first third of the flake fell! Flakes of hay are messy, wasteful, and can be very expensive. But, they provide the horse with the necessary nutrients.
What if there was another way for your horses to receive the same nutrients they would get in hay flakes, without all the hassle?
Look no further than cubes! Hay cubes, typically made out of alfalfa hay, are a compressed, dehydrated form of hay. You’re still feeding your horse hay, but it’s less messy, less wasteful, and less expensive!
Cubes typically come in bags, just like grain or oats. They are easy to transport and can be purchased at any feed store; they don’t have to come directly from a farmer, as bales of hay do. Bags of cubes typically weigh up to 50 lbs, which can provide enough forage for a horse for a week or so. Buying hay cubes in bulk is often more cost effective, and the alfalfa cubes price per ton normally works out cheaper than purchasing individual bags.
Sometimes, because cubes are dehydrated, horses choke on them or have trouble chewing them. Cubes are very dry and can cause issues with sensitive of senior horses. But, cubes can be wetted down to reduce the risk of these problems.
Soaking cubes can also provide horses with the moisture they need to better swallow and digest the cubes. The soaking process turns the cubes into a hay mash. Horses typically love eating their hay like this, especially when soaked with warm water.
Hay Cubes, Standard Feeding Quantities
Whether you feed hay flakes or cubes, it is important that your horse is being provided with a healthy, correct quantity of feed. Horses on cubes tend to overeat more than horses on hay flakes, so it is especially important to make sure horses on cubes are receiving the correct quantity of feed.
Generally, it is correct to feed a horse between 1.5 and 2% of their body weight in forage daily, depending on the body condition score of the horse. This calculation normally excludes any grain, oats, and other supplements which are fed to meet specific health and energy requirements.
How many flakes of hay to feed a horse? An average-sized horse typically gets anywhere from two to four flakes of hay with each meal. That’s anywhere from four to eight flakes a day. Obviously the exact number will depend on the horse, their body weight, whether they are overweight or underweight, and how much access to other forage (such as grass) that the horse has.
In fact, how many flakes of hay to feed a horse is a misleading question – hay flakes can vary widely in terms of size, thickness, and weight, so one flake can be a very different weight from the next.
For this reason, most horse nutritionists advise weighing hay rather than feeding a specific number of flakes. Of course, as you get more experienced, it can be easier to judge how many flakes your horse needs without weighing it every time.
How Many Flakes in a 2 String Bale Of Hay
If you’re trying to estimate how much hay your horse will need this winter, you can do a rough calculation according to how many flakes are in a single bale. The average bale of meadow hay contains 12-16 flakes of hay. So, if your horse needs five flakes of hay per day, a single bale will last for two or three days.
As with hay flakes, hay cubes can also vary in terms of weight. This can depend on the type of hay used, the manufacturing process, and how the hay is dehydrated.
Hay cubes can be compressed in varying degrees. Because they are made of dehydrated hay, the amount to which the nutrients are compressed can depend on the quality of the dehydration technique used, as well as other factors.
This makes it hard to say whether there is an exact quantity of hay cubes you should feed a horse. Most, if not all cube manufacturers include a quantity guide on the bags of their cubes. These guides are also available online.
One of the most reputable horse feed manufacturers, Purina, lists how much to feed a standard horse if its hay is split 50/50 between cubes and flakes. They also tell you how much to feed a standard horse if it is fed completely on hay cubes, with no other source of forage.
The quantities of hay cubes to feed can vary widely based on which particular product is purchased.
This is because different types of hay cubes have different quantities of certain nutrients, and some are denser than others. The exact quantity will depend not only on each horse’s unique needs but also on which type of cube you decide to purchase.
How Many Alfalfa Cubes Equal a Flake of Hay?
Many people ask how many alfalfa cubes equal a flake of hay, but it is hard to say whether there is an exact conversion factor in cubes to hay flakes. This is because flakes of hay vary widely in terms of size, and alfalfa cubes can also be very variable when it comes to their nutritional content.
When calculating how much hay or alfalfa cubes to feed a horse, the ideal standard to go by is always weight. Calculate how many pounds of forage your horse needs to eat a day, and make sure they are getting that, whether it be in hay flakes or cubes.
For example, using Purina’s handy online Horse Feed Calculator, I estimated that my horse needs 14 or more pounds of forage a day. He gets 6 flakes of hay a day, and he has 10-hour access to grass.
It’s averaged that a horse eats a pound of grass for every hour they are exposed to it (so long as it is available). So, about 10 pounds in grass and the 6 flakes of hay makes up for the rest of it. Weighing the hay helps to confirm that it is the right amount for the horse.
This same calculation can be done with hay cubes. Let’s say my horse didn’t have access to grass; if he got two pounds of hay flakes a day, he would need another 12+ pounds of cubes in order to meet his daily needs.
So, there isn’t an exact conversion between cubes and hay flakes. Instead, correct quantities are measured by how big your horse is, and what kind of work he is involved in.
The correct quantity of forage for your horse can be calculated using Purina’s Horse Feed Calculator at this link.
How to Feed Hay Cubes
If you are considering supplementing your horse’s forage with hay cubes, you will need to make some small changes to the way your horse is fed. The main issue with hay cubes is that they are easier for horses to eat than hay – your horse may finish off his evening ration before the sun has even set! Horses are trickle feeders and should eat slowly for many hours each day, so you may need to spit they hay cube ration into several smaller meals.
Luckily, there is a great solution to this problem – an automatic hay cube feeder! This features a hopper which releases pre-programmed amounts of hay cubes at set times throughout the day.
Do you weigh alfalfa cubes wet or dry?
Like hay, alfalfa cubes should always be weighed when dry. Adding water to alfalfa cubes can be very beneficial to your horse, increasing his water intake and reducing the risk of issues such as intestinal impactions. However, when wet, alfalfa cubes weigh considerably more, and the weight will vary according to the amount of water you have added.
Summary – How Many Alfalfa Cubes Equal a Flake of Hay
I hope this article has helped shed some light on the benefits of feeding hay and what the correct quantities of both flakes and cubes are! If so, please share this article, and share with us your experiences feeding with both hay cubes and hay flakes!
What is a hay cube?
A hay cube is made from hay that has been cut into shorter pieces and then compressed into a uniform shape. Hay cubes are easier to chew and digest for horses with dental problems or digestive issues. Many horse owners find that the hay cubes are easier to transport, store, and feed than conventional hay, and there is also less waste when cubes are fed compared to loose hay.
Can you feed horses dry hay cubes?
Hay cubes can be fed either wet or dry but it may be a good idea to wet the cubes when they are first introduced as it will be easier for the horse to chew on them. As soon as the horse get used to hay cubes, they can be fed dry.
The cubes should be kept in a dry and cool place, preferably stored at temperatures of 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. Hay cubes can be fed in conjunction with other forms of roughage such as hay or silage although they are often used as a substitute for the normal ration of hay. In addition to being a great way to add variety to a horse’s diet, hay cubes can also be used to help control the weight of the horse.
Are hay cubes bad for horses?
No, hay cubes are not bad for horses but can be a better alternative in many cases. They are a healthy way to feed your horse. Compared to hay, cubes tend to have more consistent levels of vitamins and minerals. For horses with respiratory problems, cubes are a good alternative to hay because they contain less dust than hay. Hay cubes are also easier to feed and produce less waste than loose hay or hay flakes.
Should I feed my horse alfalfa cubes?
Yes, alfalfa cubes are a great source of nutrition for horses. They provide essential vitamins and nutrients that may be lacking from a horse’s diet. They are also a good source of protein and fiber. Alfalfa hay contains more protein and fiber than most other hay types.
Alfalfa cubes are best fed in conjunction with other forms of roughage such as hay, silage, or haylage. Alfalfa cubes are also a source of vitamin E, iron, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Alfalfa cubes can be used to add variety to the diet of a horse that is malnurished or overworked. They are also a precious source of nutrients for nursing mares and senior horses.
Can alfalfa cubes cause colic?
Because alfalfa is high in fiber, it can be difficult to digest and can increase the risk of colic. Alfalfa cubes may also contain mold or bacteria if not stored properly, which can make your horse ill. Horses should be fed alfalfa cubes with caution. It is advisable to fed alfalfa cubes in combination with other foods as feeding alfalfa in excess can lead to obesity and colic.
If you are considering feeding alfalfa cubes to your horse, ask your vet for a recommendation on how much and what type of alfalfa cubes to feed.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.