A Quick Look at Pasture Management
By Jennifer Roberts
As summer marches on, watching your horses graze out on the pasture in the early morning is one of the most amazing simple pleasures. In order to have this picture continue throughout the season, it is imperative that your pastures are well managed and well taken care of.
Basic pasture management is relatively simple, but requires a diligence on the part of the horse owner. In giving you an overview, it’s important to mention that if you have any questions, your country cooperative extension agency is a wonderful resource that is familiar with the area and the grasses that you are working with.
Pasture rotation is the best and most effective pasture management technique. By not allowing your horses to graze down the grass to the root, you maintain a healthy root system in the grasses. This helps to avoid bare patches and will allow the grass to spring back more quickly. According to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, “Add and remove animals at the correct times to obtain optimum nutrition, rapid forage re-growth, and stand persistence.”
Consider the creation of a “sacrifice space” for when all of the pastures are currently overgrazed and back in the growing phase. This area can be smaller than the other pastures and will end up with large bare patches and poorer quality grass. You may find that this sacrificial pasture is also a great place to keep your horses throughout the winter months in order to let your larger pastures go completely dormant throughout the winter.
In order to control the weeds, mowing your pasture periodically is also encouraged. While this may seem counter-intuitive, the mowing knocks down the plants that your horses have decided to avoid and allows the tender shoots of forage that your horse prefers to snack on. If it’s a particularly large weed, pull it!
Removing manure will help the grass grow more evenly and not create the “dead” patches in the grass. When you remove manure, treat the area with Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher to neutralize the ammonia. The lack of ammonia will help maintain the grass, as ammonia tends to kill off those tender grasses.
When the grazing season is complete, consult with a local agency to see about fertilizing requirements for your area. This will vary depending on location.
Pasture management does not require fancy equipment, but it does require a well-thought out plan. By utilizing these quick tips, you can help prolong the grazing season and watch your horses graze in the early morning to your hearts content.
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