Talk to me about Sainfoin

holeymoley

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Simple Systems have a lot of Sainfoin products. I have no idea myself though, seems to be some fancy plant with a lot of benefits!
 
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It's a legume crop (so related to peas and lentils) and given as an alternative forage sometimes due to its high protein content and because it can be planted as part of bioremediation in contaminated soils. It's more commonly used for beef cattle than horses though.
Sorry, I don't know much more than that, although I was aware simple systems sold it but I think it's more targeted at breeding stock or competition/race horses in very hard work.
 

PurBee

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Its a really pretty plant - gorgeous flowers - it likes to grow in alkaline soil so the stuff planted out in my fields didnt survive but i planted chunks of it in my crop area and it grows great.

It grows to around 2-3 foot high when flowering. You could grow it as clumps in a pot. It’s perennial so will grow year in year out.

Its meant to be a good plant for cattle/horses as a natural wormer due to some of its constituents.

I tried a bit of it fresh on my horses and they nibbled some but weren’t really interested.

I tried it dried and they ate it, again not loads as i didnt want to shock their system.

I havent tested it as a wormer, against Fecal egg counts to see if its effective - would be a good experiment to do.
 

PurBee

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Its not something i’d use as a forage replacement though For horses. I dont agree with feeding 100% alfalfa either. Its okay as an few strands addition to a majority grass/hay diet but would err cautiously for using it as a main ingredient in a horses diet.
 

VioletStripe

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Its not something i’d use as a forage replacement though For horses. I dont agree with feeding 100% alfalfa either. Its okay as an few strands addition to a majority grass/hay diet but would err cautiously for using it as a main ingredient in a horses diet.
Could I ask why? Do you think the protein is too high?

I also think similarly re alfalfa. I've read a few articles which recommend switching over the usual hay to alfalfa hay, and I personally wouldn't. I think a blend/variety of forages is good to strive for though, so I feed some alfalfa in with my chaff (my horse seems to suit it - I know lots who can't feed it!)
 

PapaverFollis

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Just that I'm very happy with my current forage and feeding set-up, so am not looking to buy/have any requirements to be met - I'd seen it in a few places and was curious why people feed it!
Thanks. I was just confused because it hadn't really registered that sainfoin was a forage crop like alfalfa... in my head it was living in the "herb" category so I couldn't understand what you would be switching it with. Then I read Chinchilla's post and got with the times. 😂
 

PurBee

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Could I ask why? Do you think the protein is too high?

I also think similarly re alfalfa. I've read a few articles which recommend switching over the usual hay to alfalfa hay, and I personally wouldn't. I think a blend/variety of forages is good to strive for though, so I feed some alfalfa in with my chaff (my horse seems to suit it - I know lots who can't feed it!)
similarly to your thoughts - i agree a blend of forage tends to better suit horses. The protein is excellent in alfalfa, and as part of a diet can work well, but its a split synthesis protein, some of it broken down in the foregut, like usual forage, and some protein broken down in the rear gut - i think thats the reason why a drastic switch to alfalfa tends to be a bumpy transition for lots of horses, and why some horses just dont get on with it at all, due to this protein synthesis difference.
Whether all legumes have these 2 types of proteins, i don’t know.
Also though, the calcium is very high in alfalfa, so would need balancing out with serious phosphorus addition, if alfalfa is the majority forage in the diet. I forget right now the average ratio within alfalfa but its around 8 times more calcium than hay. Marketing of alfalfa always never mention to the equine potential clientele this very obvious issue of calcium with feeding just alfalfa, so its unfair marketing really - they should at least warn customers to add more phosphorus if using alfalfa.
I managed to find a good supply of clean alfalfa so researched heavily if it could be possible for my 2 leisure horses. I dropped the idea, but would consider 20% of their diet could be alfalfa without causing too much issue.

Similar to beet pulp, loads of calcium and needs additional phosphorus to balance out - hence why oats were used commonly with it, when straights were fed.

Im unsure the levels of protein/calcium/phosphorus in sainfoin. Would be interesting to find out and compare with alfalfa. The stems of sainfoin are quite woody, square with a hole in the centre, so i imagine it has a decent fibre content. I happened across it when sourcing pasture seed from cotswold seeds. They’re a great company who do trials with many farmers, introducing lots of new species. Sainfoin is something theyve been encouraging farmers to grow, mainly for cows.
 

VioletStripe

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similarly to your thoughts - i agree a blend of forage tends to better suit horses. The protein is excellent in alfalfa, and as part of a diet can work well, but its a split synthesis protein, some of it broken down in the foregut, like usual forage, and some protein broken down in the rear gut - i think thats the reason why a drastic switch to alfalfa tends to be a bumpy transition for lots of horses, and why some horses just dont get on with it at all, due to this protein synthesis difference.
Whether all legumes have these 2 types of proteins, i don’t know.
Also though, the calcium is very high in alfalfa, so would need balancing out with serious phosphorus addition, if alfalfa is the majority forage in the diet. I forget right now the average ratio within alfalfa but its around 8 times more calcium than hay. Marketing of alfalfa always never mention to the equine potential clientele this very obvious issue of calcium with feeding just alfalfa, so its unfair marketing really - they should at least warn customers to add more phosphorus if using alfalfa.
I managed to find a good supply of clean alfalfa so researched heavily if it could be possible for my 2 leisure horses. I dropped the idea, but would consider 20% of their diet could be alfalfa without causing too much issue.

Similar to beet pulp, loads of calcium and needs additional phosphorus to balance out - hence why oats were used commonly with it, when straights were fed.

Im unsure the levels of protein/calcium/phosphorus in sainfoin. Would be interesting to find out and compare with alfalfa. The stems of sainfoin are quite woody, square with a hole in the centre, so i imagine it has a decent fibre content. I happened across it when sourcing pasture seed from cotswold seeds. They’re a great company who do trials with many farmers, introducing lots of new species. Sainfoin is something theyve been encouraging farmers to grow, mainly for cows.
Maybe we would go back to adding bran to the diet if the alfalfa craze continues!

That would be really interesting - I can't find much about the actual levels in sainfoin. The fact it has been mentioned a couple of times that it is given to cows makes me think it would be very nutritionally dense?
 
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