Alfalfa pellets vs Grain – Can You Feed Alfalfa Pellets Instead of Grain?

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 09/24/22 •  7 min read

We horse owners often have to scramble to find healthy treats for our animals. 

For example- Alfalfa pellets vs. grain- which one to choose!!!

It’s like a never-ending battle.

So, you’re also in quest of that? You have arrived at the proper location if you are searching for the answer- can you feed alfalfa pellets instead of grain?

It’s true that for their abundance and nutrient density, grains are an integral part of the horse’s daily diet. Let’s see what nutritionists say about this fact.

Can you feed alfalfa pellets instead of grain?

Alfalah pellets and grain both have their benefits. Both are used for years, but your horse type and like matter. 

Yes, horses can eat alfalfa pellets instead of grain because these are nourishing and full of proteins and calories. These premium protein sources have the correct percentages of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and fibers which is beneficial for the horse’s health. However, feeding pellets are not suitable for all types of horses. (Read more about beet pulp vs alfalfa pellets for horses.)

First, let me tell you one important thing:

A horse’s food consists of grains mainly as a supply of nutrients, and the white starch in the grain’s nucleus is the origin of that energy. The stomach’s enzymes must process the starch for the horse to use as fuel.

Here is the twist…….

Since it is “packed” inside the grain in a way that makes it challenging for the horse to access, processing the grain to release the energy is not simple. Grains are boiled so the horse can absorb the starch much more quickly.

Make sense now?

Alfalfa pellets may be precisely what you’re searching for to enhance your horse’s diet. These are high-quality, handy feeds with a good balance of nutrients. It improves horses’ fitness and satisfaction. 

Tips: If you feed the horse grain, make sure it is cooked. Uncooked grain can lead to stomach, digestive and behavioral problems. Raw grain will hurt the horse rather than comfort him.

Related article: Are weeds toxic to horses? Find out with this guide which covers the most dangerous weeds and their effects on horses.

Alfalfa pellets vs Grain

Grain vs alfalfa pellets: let’s see the differences

We all know that Crops are produced, collected, and made to produce grains. They offer some minerals as well as carbs for stamina. These grains are then converted into pellets by feed manufacturers. 

When alfalfa is in pellet form, it is simple to store and can be used as a supplement to pellet or expanded food if your horse requires extra high-quality protein, magnesium, or stamina. 

Below are some of the differences between the Grain and Alfalfa pellets (Medicago Sativa).

Related article: Curious if your horse can enjoy cherries? Here’s a look at the facts and precautions you should know before letting your horse indulge in this delicious treat!

It’s time to see the pros and cons of feeding alfalfa pellet

Pros of feeding alfalfa pellets 

Alfalfa pellets are a high protein source. Some pros of giving this to horses are:

[1] Your horse needs protein to maintain and develop muscle. Their upper chest and shoulders would be ripe with muscles. Active horses, such as those in races, need all those muscles to perform at their best. Building muscle, which in turn increases your horse’s speed, quickness, and agility requires protein. 

Note: As mentioned earlier, Alfalfa pellets have 21%  protein (approximately) (equivalent to mature alfalfa hay).

[2] These are very high in calcium which helps to build strong bones. Also, calcium raises the pH in the stomach, which is more alkaline. When the level of acid increases, calcium can help reduce it. It prevents ulcers in horses. 
Fact: Raising the pH of the stomach creates a better environment to not make ulcers worse in the horse’s belly.

[3] If metabolic horses can take it, it can be a helpful nutritional supplement to their feed. It will also assist in lowering blood sugar consumption. Additionally, it can help to perform horses whose blood sugar varies due to higher physical requirements.

[4] Alfalfa pellets are a fiber-rich protein source that makes your horse energetic. 

Good to know: According to Equine Nutrition Analysis’s assessment, Alfalfa pellets contain 35.7% crude fiber.

[5] The body transforms beta carotene, abundant in the alfalfa plant, into micronutrients such as vitamin b12, Thiamine, Pyridoxine, Nicotinic Acid, Biotin, and Folic Acid are also present, as well as vitamins E.

[6] It has chromium, essential for the horse’s biochemical properties, and vitamin B, which is linked with iron absorption.

There are a few caveats also……

Related article: Here’s everything you need to know about the nutritional benefits of sunflower seeds for horses.

Circumstances when Feeding Alfalfa Pellets will be really wise instead of grain

Alfalfa pellets are nutrient-dense but not overly sweet. 

Due to these qualities, it is an ideal feed for underweight horses.

Additionally, because of its lower sugar content than grain, alfalfa pellets make a great alternative feed for insulin-resistant animals. 

Due to the decreased amount of structural and non – structural carbs, it can also be advantageous to horses with muscular issues prone to maintaining or horses with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS).

Alfalfa pellets are suitable for horses with high nutritional needs, such as:

Because the additional calcium works as a barrier against stomach acid, Alfalfa pellets are especially beneficial for animals exposed to gastric ulcers.


Toxicity/health Hazards of feeding pallet

Protein-rich feeds, including alfalfa pellets, must not be given to horses with liver or intestinal issues. 

Apart from this…..

Feeding alfalfa to stamina horses in excess amounts is not a good idea. 

Horses need to pass urine and sweat more because of the warmth. It is recommended to give alfalfa pellets only as a substitute for grain feed to counteract these effects. Additionally, it should not be offered to horses with HYPP or only be shown in tiny doses. 

And it should not be fed to horses with ragweed allergies since they may experience an allergic response.

Related article: Horses are known for being herbivores, but did you know that they can also eat fish and other meat?


Alfalfa pellets could be used for a horse’s diet as an alternative to grain but not for a more extended period of time. Alfalfa pellets have the right amount of each macronutrient and are full of nutrients. It’s good for giving your horse more pep and building muscle.

Another interesting thing is Horses can be allergic to Alfalfa pellets but not grain. So, keep an eye out if you incorporate pallets in horse feed.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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