Can Chickens Eat Alfalfa Hay?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by cyanne, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. Chicklette 1

    Chicklette 1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2010
    So can I assume that putting in a bale or 1/2 bale of alfalfa hay that we feed to the horses, would be ok? I thought I would just put it in their pen and let them pick on it.
  2. jason_mazzy

    jason_mazzy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 7, 2011
    They love to scratch in it, and it is good for them to have some roughage.
  3. western edge

    western edge Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2010
    Edge of the Bakken
    I have acesses to some second cutting alfalfa to cut and bale with some old equiptment i have. Very good short, leafy alfalfa that i give loosly to the flock about twice a week during the "white" season which can go on pretty long around here. I recall my parents and grandparent doing this also. Inportant part of their diet in the greenless times.
  4. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2010
    Ridgefield CT
    I'm very cautious of hay right now. I have hay bails around my coop for insulation right now which works great but... I just lost my favorite girl this week and the autopsy showed she was all full of hay well past the crop. Granted, she may have had other things going on that made her not digest properly, but I'm keeping an eye out for problems with the others. Alfalfa is very nutritious, I just would stick to the meal or pellets.
  5. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I was extremely nervous about putting hay out for my chickens because of the crop binding issue, but they love it, especially in the winter when there's no other greens around. There's never been an issue with binding---I do make sure they have grit and other feed available at all times. The one issue that I do have is that the hay, whether in the coop or run, really stinks things up! I find myself having to rake it up constantly to keep the smell away (normally my run is either leaf litter or wood chippings, and continually topped off). So if I could find a good way to keep them busy with alfalfa pellets, I may go that route. Maybe put them in one of those rolly balls with holes in it?
  6. claireree

    claireree Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Well you learn something new every day. I help run a horse and donkey sanctuary and we always have alfalfa in so will have to go and get some tomorrow and try it out on my chickens and ducks.
  7. Ohhhdear

    Ohhhdear Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 15, 2010
    West Michigan
    I've been supplementing with TSC's bagged alfalfa pellets all winter, since there's nothing green in Michigan for my girls to munch on. I soak a big panful overnight until it's mushy, then keep it in a huge covered Tupperware bowl in the garage with their feed. They haven't wanted to eat the pellets unsoaked.
    In the morning I give the girls a hot mash made from their laying crumbles, oyster shell, scratch grains, horse sweet feed and a couple spoonfuls of reconstituted alfalfa pellets. Mixed with last night's vegetable cooking water, plate scrapings, meat scraps, gravy, etc, and microwaved in a 1 quart bowl for 2 minutes.

    I really love the way the alfalfa pellets smell... green & wholesome like freshly cut hay. No stems or stick pieces to gum up their crops. Also, TSC has other varieties of hay pelllets available; I remember seeing timothy and clover on the shelf.
  8. western edge

    western edge Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2010
    Edge of the Bakken
    I have seen crop binding issues when feeding green cut grass but have never had problems with mature dry alfalfa hay. Not saying it couldnt happen.
  9. Momagain1

    Momagain1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2011
    Central IL
    Quote:The eat cut grass clippings?? geesh this is all so darn new!
  10. NYREDS

    NYREDS Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 14, 2008
    Quote:The stuff I have isn't the same as most hay...coastal hay for example is long strands of dried grass, so if they eat it it can wad up inside their crop and leave them crop bound. The alfalfa I have is more like a dried clover consistency. There are some stems, but the chickens ignore those and just eat the little dried leaves.

    I'm not sure those could cause them to get crop bound even if they did eat a whole bunch...then again, I've never met an animal that couldn't find SOME way to hurt itself and cause you a heart attack/drain your wallet on vet bills no matter how careful you are with them. [​IMG]

    Alfalfa "hay" is very different than grass hay as Alfalfa isn't a grass. It's a leafy plant, a legume actually, that does not stay intact the way grass hay does. When I can find Alfalfa hay I lie to feed it in the winter as a substitute for the green food the birds access in the summer.

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