Horse Pasture Management Tips

Healthy pastures require year-round maintenance. Fall is an important time to evaluate your horse pastures. Depending on your situation, you may need to rest overgrazed pastures, control weeds, spread manure, test soil, reseed, or fertilize. Healthy spring pastures depend on the upkeep they receive during the fall.

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Horses that have 24/7 access to pasture spend 60-70% of their time grazing.

Horses are selective eaters. They will overgraze the tastiest grass first, which will encourage bare patches and weedy areas to appear in heavily grazed pastures.

Stocking rates vary by:

• Region
• Time of year
• Pasture quality

If pastures are poor, a much larger area will be required.

When turned out on lush grass, each horse requires 1-2 acres of pasture.

Check with your local feed store or extension office for the best seeding and fertilization schedule in your area.

Chain harrow the fields in spring and fall to spread manure, dead grass, and even out rough areas.

Mow fields before weeds go to seed to keep undesirable plants from spreading. Mowing also evens out pasture grasses and stimulates growth.

Options for limited space

Create a sacrifice area.

Utilize your sacrifice area to protect pastures during wet weather when hoof traffic can damage turf, or when pastures need a rest from grazing.

Practice limited turnout.

Instead of horses having access to pasture 24 hours a day, limit access to shorter periods of times.

Set up a rotational grazing system.

Rotational grazing helps eliminate selective grazing, maintains good grass, and minimizes weeds.

Divide your grazing area into smaller sections.

Allow horses to graze a section until it is between 2 to 4 inches tall.

Rotate the horses to the next section. Allow grass in first section to regrow to between 4 and 8 inches tall.

Ideally, each section should be big enough to sustain grazing for 4 to 7 days.

Be flexible with your schedule. You will need to test which strategies work best for the number of horses you have, your land and the time of year.

Elevate® provides highly digestible, natural vitamin E, which is essential for horses that do not spend substantial time grazing on lush grass pasture.

 

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