Introducing Horses to Pastures In Spring
Spring is right around the corner. This means that soon the horses will be out grazing in the pastures, enjoying the luscious green grass, and bringing more nutritional value. To the horse owner, it means decreasing the amount of hay fed to the horses, therefore, reducing their costs.
During the winter months and inclement weather, horses are often confined to a paddock, also known as a sacrifice area. During this time, the horses are restricted from pastures to prevent the horses from damaging them. Horses are destructive on wet pastures, ripping the forage out by the roots with their teeth. The horses can also cause extensive damage to the sod by churning and forming rivets with their hooves.
Horses are grazing animals and prefer natural pasture forages for the nutrients and fiber their systems require. A well-maintained, healthy pasture may provide all the necessary dietary needs of the horse. The challenge is controlling the amount of green grass the horse will consume when it is returned to grazing. The horse's metabolism in not used to the lush spring forage and problems will arise, such as colic and founder. Think of it as letting a child loose in a candy store. The child will consume as much candy as possible, causing a major belly ache. It is the same for the horse.
Therefore, any new food introduced to the horse must be done gradually. Start out by introducing grass in small controlled periods of 15 minutes per day for a few days. In the following days, increase an additional 10 minutes each turnout until the horses have adjusted to a grazing time of 3 to 4 hours. Then maintain 4 hours of grazing time for about two weeks before turning the horses out for total pasture time. This will allow the horses' digestive system to adjust to the fresh grass. Sometimes, complications can still occur.
Always make note of what the horses are eating and how much. Any new or different type of feed or forage can disrupt the horse's digestive system.
Brigita McKelvie is a REALTOR® (Pennsylvania License #RS297130) with Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, specializing in rural and horse properties and farms in Eastern Pennsylvania. She has an e-Pro® (Certified Internet Expert) certification and a GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute) designation.
Brigita McKelvie, REALTOR
Pennsylvania License #RS297130
Rural and Horse Properties and Farms
Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, Ltd.
The Premier Equine and Country Real Estate firm serving Eastern Pennsylvania from back yard operations to world class equestrian facilities.
Use a REALTOR with "horse sense" that doesn't horse around when it comes to horse properties.