By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.
Are you tempted to cut your grass, then rake it into soft, fragrant, tasty piles of clippings for your horse to nibble? According to equine nutrition expert Dr. Juliet Getty this should be the last thing you encourage your horse to eat. It has to do with that extra step: raking. Grass clippings that stay on the pasture after mowing, where they can dry in small amounts, are generally not a problem. But never gather them into piles to feed them to your horse. Here’s why:
- Clippings are too easy to over-consume, and eating large amounts at one time can lead to excess fermentation in the hind gut, potentially causing colic and laminitis.
- Piles of clippings can rapidly invite mold to form (especially prevalent in hot, humid environments), which can lead to colic.
- Because there is no air inside a dense pile, botulism can develop, which turns this “treat” absolutely deadly.
Three really good reasons those pretty piles are no kind of treat for your horse!
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist. She provides a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.gettyequinenutrition.com. Sign up for her informative, free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Her books are all available through her website with special pricing offers. And for the growing community of horse owners and managers who allow their horses free choice forage feeding, Dr. Getty has set up a special forum as a place for support, celebrations, congratulations and idea sharing. Share your experiences at jmgetty.blogspot.com. Reach Dr. Getty directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.