5 important spring grazing tips for horses | Living the Country Life
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5 important spring grazing tips for horses

Your horses may be chomping at the bit to eat some fresh pasture grass this spring, but eating too much at once can make them sick.
  • Keep horses healthy

    Early spring pastures are lush in nutrients, and it can be tempting to turn horses out to graze. If they have been kept in a stall throughout the winter, however, they may be at risk for laminitis or other health issues if their forage source is abruptly switched from hay (15% moisture) to lush spring pasture (85% moisture). Follow these tips from Michigan State University Extension to ease your horses into the pastures.

    Date Published: February 21, 2013
    Date Updated: February 21, 2013
    Tags: grazing
  • 1. Restrict grazing time.

    Allow horses on the pasture for 20 minutes the first day, and increase the grazing time by five minutes per day over a two-week period, until they have adapted to the new feed source.

    Date Published: February 21, 2013
    Date Updated: February 21, 2013
    Tags: grazing
  • 2. Feed hay before grazing.

    During the adjustment period, feed hay before turning horses out to pasture. If their stomachs are somewhat filled with hay, their appetites will be curbed and they'll be less likely to overeat. They will also be better equipped to discriminate between appropriate pasture foliage and weeds. If horses are very hungry, they may not be selective about what they eat, and can ingest potentially toxic weeds.

    Date Published: February 21, 2013
    Date Updated: February 21, 2013
    Tags: grazing
  • 3. Continue supplementing with hay.

    If pasture foliage is sparse, supplementing with hay may be necessary to provide sufficient energy and other nutrients throughout the spring and summer. As during the adjustment period, hungry horses may consume weeds they shouldn't. Since weeds often outgrow other foliage, they are more likely to eat weeds as the season goes on.

    Date Published: February 21, 2013
    Date Updated: February 21, 2013
    Tags: grazing
  • 4. Don't graze too early.

    If a horse has a history of founder, avoid grazing in the first four weeks of spring growth. Once that period has passed, follow the first two rules when introducing the horse to the pasture.

    Date Published: February 21, 2013
    Date Updated: February 21, 2013
    Tags: grazing
  • 5. Use a grazing muzzle.

    If a horse that is susceptible to founder must be turned out on pasture, use a grazing muzzle to limit pasture consumption.

    Date Published: February 21, 2013
    Date Updated: February 21, 2013
    Tags: grazing

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