Grazing horses on land sprayed with chemicals

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Grazing horses on land sprayed with chemicals

This is a discussion on Grazing horses on land sprayed with chemicals within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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  • 1 Post By Left Hand Percherons
  • 1 Post By jaydee
  • 1 Post By Cherie

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    08-22-2014, 08:29 AM
Grazing horses on land sprayed with chemicals

I'm not sure if this is the place for this but...

My partner and I are renting a small cottage on a large amount of land (300 acres roughly) that happens to be for sale. My partner's father is a potato farmer and is planning to buy the land and my partner wants to go shares so that we have the area with our house and a bit of the land. The best land will go to the potato farming of course, and what we'll get is the 'leftovers'. (Mainly bush and a bit of clear land which also happens to be infested with double Gs) So it's not looking good for my dreams of having a nice horse property.

Now my partner's father is very easy going and because the potato crops are rotated, there should always be some land for me to keep horses should I want to. The problem I have is that this potato farm is by no means organic. First, before the crops are put in, they put some really nasty chemical in the ground that kills everything (methan or something like that?) then plant the potatos along with fertilising them with super (not sure exactly what this contains, I think it's mainly nitrogen), and then while they're growing they're continuously sprayed (chemicals added to the water that irrigates them) for bugs and whatnot. Lastly, when the crops are finishing, they are sprayed to kill off the plants before the potatos are harvested.

After it's harvested the ground is seeded for pasture and then it'll be rested for two to three years (and grazed by sheep) before the process goes again. My question is would you graze your horses on this pasture after all those chemicals have gone into the ground? I'm really quite uneasy about it, and if I could have some good land for myself and my horses that I could set up as I pleased, it would be an easy decision to go ahead with buying the place, I just don't think that will happen.

Sorry for the length, just wanted to explain the situation properly, also having a bit of a whinge, lol!
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    08-22-2014, 11:25 AM
Green Broke
You need to know what the chemicals are. The fact that sheep graze the land after may be more of a concern for horses than the sprays (sheep carry worms etc. that can cross infest and some horses will not graze where sheep have been).

Some chemicals are long lasting (like Atrazine or Attrex). Other chemicals break down in the sun after so many days. Some chemicals that kill plants do not kill anything else because they impact the plant's hormones that only those plants have. IOW's deadly to plants is not necessarily deadly to people or horses or cattle (tho they can be). Fertilizers can create an over abundance of some minerals in the soil and that can be transported to the horse causing an imbalance.

You need to know more before you can determine if any of this is toxic to horses.
    08-22-2014, 02:16 PM
Cross-species grazing has a lot of benefits. Some parasites are species specific and if another animal grazes and ingests those parasites then the worms/ parasites cannot mature and die off.
Sheep will graze grass more so than a goat would, as goats are browsers and would clear brush and weeds, whilst sheep would go for the grass and possibly some edible weeds.

As for the chemicals you'll want to get the names of the chemicals and either contact the manufacturer or look up their website for information on how safe it is to graze livestock after it's been in use and what the holding period is if there is one.
I myself try not to add anything to the ground/ pastures if it's not 100% necessary, but not everyone follows that route and you have to weigh your options carefully.
    08-22-2014, 02:24 PM
We question the safety on grazing livestock on the land but don't have any problems with the chemicals in our food supply? If it's safe for food, it's safe for grazing.
Cherie likes this.
    08-22-2014, 03:52 PM
Super Moderator
If he's grazing sheep on it and growing a root crop I don't suppose its going to be a problem for the horses but you should know exactly what's going on it. Really agro chemicals nowadays are rigorously tested and have clear directions for how long a time should be left before land is grazed and they're way too expensive for any farmer wanting to make a good profit to use in excess of what's recommended
The closest thing to 'methan' I can think of are methan-arsonates but they're is restricted or even illegal now in some areas and there are new safer ways to kill weeds.
You'd probably do better to find out what he uses and then speak to the companies Reps and get real technical advice
Elana likes this.
    08-22-2014, 05:53 PM
Why not just keep a few acres of not prime for horses? That way you can have proper fence and not use a big area and know how it is treated.
    08-23-2014, 10:54 AM
Super Moderator
The best land will go to the potato farming of course, and what we'll get is the 'leftovers'. (Mainly bush and a bit of clear land which also happens to be infested with double Gs) So it's not looking good for my dreams of having a nice horse property.
What in the world is Double Gs?

Horses generally do very well (if not better) on so called 'waste ground' that is not suitable for farming.

Pesticides (chemicals killing bugs) generally have a period of time stated on them that is is not safe for grazing. This varies from product to product. Restrictions are also different for animals producing milk, etc.

Herbicides (chemicals targeting certain plants like broad-leaf weeds or brush) are generally much safer to graze, but will also have specific grazing directions on their label (or can be found on the internet under the manufacturer's website).

Defoliants (like Round-up) kill back all green growth and are considered safe for grazing. Check labels and, if in doubt, check with your county Agent. We have never seen any problems when manufacturer's directions are followed. We do not even take horses off of pasture to spray weed killers.
Elana likes this.
    08-23-2014, 11:16 AM
I had no idea they sprayed potatoes before harvesting! Learn something new every day.
    08-23-2014, 11:31 AM
Originally Posted by 4horses    
I had no idea they sprayed potatoes before harvesting! Learn something new every day.
They do this with sugar beets as well to remove the tops so they just harvest the tuber. They can stockpile the harvest without the problem of the leaves rotting and spoiling the potatoes/sugarbeets.

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