Pasture with minimal hay ok? - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-16-2012, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Pasture with minimal hay ok?

I've always boarded my horse but have recently built a new home/barn. We have about 6 acres of pasture my horse will have access to. She's a senior TB who does light trail riding a couple times per week. She will have a large paddock to begin with until the rest of the fence is complete. She also gets grain twice a day. The pasture is coastal hay and we also have, oddly enough, tons of very thick and green winter grass - I don't know what it is.

In this situation how much hay is needed? I thought perhaps one or two flakes in a nibble net per day would be ok? I'm guessing the paddock will get grazed down fairly quickly. I wasn't planning on feeding hay in the summer months.

She is on a dry lot now and will need to be introduced to pasture slowly. In this situation is a grazing muzzle sufficient? I'm paranoid about keeping her in a stall when we aren't home. (I had a friend lose a horse in a barn fire). We have dutch doors on the outside of the barn so she will be free to come and go from paddock to stall.
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-16-2012, 03:22 PM
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Yes, a grazing muzzle would be a good idea. When your horse is in a dry lot area, yes you should feed hay, but, you will not need to feed any hay when your horse eventually gets full access to the pasture as it sounds like your grass is plentiful and lush. I can understand your fear of barn fires, that is why I don't like barns that have no run out of the stall. About 2% of your horse body weight is how much hay or pasture your horse needs a day, and so if your horse is 1,000 lbs, about 20 pounds of hay per day. A 1,000 horse eats about 4 lbs. of grass per hour, but, since grass is roughly 75% water, it is not a lot of fiber. A horse grazing 16-20 hours a day 4 lbs of grass an hour, that would be 64-80 lbs of grass or since hay is 25% dry matter, it would equal about 16-20 lbs of hay.

You can use that to figure out how much hay you would need to feed to make up for some grass but not enough for the whole diet....

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post #3 of 7 Old 01-16-2012, 04:01 PM
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Is the grass actively growing or in winter dormancy? I put hay out for my horses even when the grass is green and I find they will graze a while then go to the hay, because it's not as rich as the grass. In spring if I take the horse for a walk he'll eat mostly tall standing brown grasses and graze just a little of the new green grasses that are coming up.This is what decided me to always offer hay.
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-19-2012, 10:19 PM
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How many horses will be on the 6 acres? If it's good grazing & there are only a couple of horses, you may need to restrict their intake. You could do something like keep half of it for hay & strip graze them on the rest, or keep them on a 'track' around the outside & keep the middle for hay & grazing rotation or some such.

If it's costal, winter growing, lush looking grass, could be a type of couch or buffalo, some of which are associated with calucium deficiency & associated problems, so you may want to look into that & perhaps supp extra Ca if necessary.
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-20-2012, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
How many horses will be on the 6 acres? If it's good grazing & there are only a couple of horses, you may need to restrict their intake. You could do something like keep half of it for hay & strip graze them on the rest, or keep them on a 'track' around the outside & keep the middle for hay & grazing rotation or some such.

If it's costal, winter growing, lush looking grass, could be a type of couch or buffalo, some of which are associated with calucium deficiency & associated problems, so you may want to look into that & perhaps supp extra Ca if necessary.
Ultimately there will be two horses on the 6 acres. I've thought about bringing them in at night to help rest the pasture. I won't keep them stalled if I'm not home. I've thought about using temporary fencing to split it in half to rotate grazing every 3-4 weeks, but it seems like they'd strip 3 acres pretty quickly, so I don't know if it would do any good.

I've done research and can't find any matches for the winter grass that's growing right now. I do know the first bit of heat we get will kill it.
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-20-2012, 03:36 PM
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Where in TX are you? Due to the drought, that 6 acres may not last very long unless you do cross fence and rotate, which is good pasture management anyhow. Be careful how far down you let them eat the grass in any one pasture, ideally you don't want them to eat down past 2 or 3 inches tall before you rotate.

If you can cross fence so that they have approximately 1 acre pastures you can rotate through 2X/year and that will keep them in really good shape as well as keeping your worm count waaaaaay down as well. If you can put runs on the back of the barn stalls then any time you don't want them on pasture, but also don't want to leave them shut in, you can put them in the runs, shut the stall doors and just give them hay. That works well for inclement weather so that your grass isn't destroyed by horses running on it when wet.

A normal horse eats APPROXIMATELY 10-20 lbs of grass/hay per day depending on what else they are fed.

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post #7 of 7 Old 01-21-2012, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Remy410 View Post
I've thought about using temporary fencing to split it in half to rotate grazing every 3-4 weeks, but it seems like they'd strip 3 acres pretty quickly, so I don't know if it would do any good.
Well of course I have no idea about your particular place & grazing, but I have 2 horses kept on 4 acres, on a track averaging about 10' wide around the outside. The inside being electric tape & tread-ins, it's easy to move it to 'rotate' patches or lanes of grazing. I don't feed any hay. Over the drought we had, I found they ran out of grass on that after about 6 months, when I rested it completely for 4 months. But out of the drought now, they've been on it, on a track of various configurations, for the last year & there is WAY too much grass for them, so the moved areas off the basic track are small & far between.

As someone else said, rotating grazing is good management anyway, but I don't think locking them up at night will help. They are still free every day, to eat the choicest, generally already cropped short grass & leave the more ordinary, because it's longer & there's heaps to choose from.
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