Muddy, Damaged Pasture- Will it Grow Back?

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Muddy, Damaged Pasture- Will it Grow Back?

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  • How to repair damaged pasture
  • Grow a back

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    01-29-2013, 01:02 PM
Muddy, Damaged Pasture- Will it Grow Back?

We have excellent pasture grass, and I mean excellent! Last summer, even with the drought, the grass would be waist high in some places and about knee high in others and we would have to bush hog. Now, the horses (two minis, who think all there is to life is eating CONSTANTLY), are making it a muddy mess. Right now there is no snow on the ground and there is green grass, it's not like the whole thing is nothing but mud, but still, it's being badly damaged. We only have a little over 2 acres (unfortunately) and not all of that is fenced for pasture. Although my two have muzzles on and get fed hay, they'll still go out and graze a bit once they've eaten their morning hay. The pasture closest to the fence is just complete mud (but it's not that much). This morning they were galloping like mad around their pasture and I could see chunks of ground flying up. So my question is, do you think the pasture will grow back come spring? My plan was to buy a barrel horse in early spring because the kind of pasture we've had for the last two years would definitely support another mouth. Getting a horse I can actually ride is very important to me and I really hope the grass will grow back OK. When does your pasture usually start to grow back after winter? Is there anything I can do to help my pasture to grow back OK? And if I went ahead and bought a horse I though maybe I could just set a round bale out for them to keep them away from the grass (if possible). Also, we're in the process of getting a barn built (right now I have a couple of mini sized run ins), once the barn is up they will be taken off the grass and only allowed to eat so much a day which will help but right now there's no place to put them off the pasture. Advice is really appreciated as this could delay me in getting a horse.
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    01-29-2013, 01:09 PM
2 acres and three horses means a 2 acre dry lot. When overgrazed often very hardy weeds take over like prickly thistles and such. You need to keep the horses off this except for brief turnouts so they can run and stretch. By brief I mean 15 min. When the grass begins actively growing it's best to keep them off at that time for several weeks as horses are prone to founder (laminitis) then,
    01-29-2013, 01:13 PM
It would be three horses but two of them are miniature.
    01-29-2013, 01:17 PM
First, you need to have a supply of hay to help your pastures. Secondly, realize how MUCH pasture can support your horses WHERE you live. In IL, it takes ~ 1 acre/horse/GOOD rain year. I keep 3 horses currently, I keep them on 4 acres of turnout/pasture/riding and schooling areas, and they are on pasture exclusively about end of April through end of November. I feed hay during the winter, and they still graze the stubble when they are turned out. I also keep hay in their shelter's manger, when necessary, and that sometimes means during a drought.
When I bought my place, it didn't look like it had 5 acres. The (previous) owners had my 3 acre, North pasture in corn. That pasture was exclusively planted by my horses and the grass hay I was feeding them. Horses are the best reseeders among all grass eating animals bc so many seeds pass through them.
I believe most of your pasture will grow back. I lost a lot of my south pasture through some mismanagement. I reseeded last fall, but they will be kept off of it most of this year to give the rye seed, especially, an opportunity to take hold. I don't let them on it during the fast growing Spring wet season, either, bc I don't want grass founder. My north pasture grows a lot of clover, too, and dandelions, and other edible weeds, so it isn't a factor.
Here's a link to my pictures from last fall's replant.
Pasture Replant Project Photos by ducks4you_2009 | Photobucket
I triple tilled bits and pieces, and the biggest section was about 12 ft. South of the fencing. A few photos show that it took me from September to November to get the planting, done, and most of it got established before winter.
    01-29-2013, 01:21 PM
It always looks hopeless, but I've never had a problem with grass growing back all by itself after muddy, hoof print filled winters.
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    01-29-2013, 01:22 PM
Thistles and burrs are ALWAYS going to be a nuisance. Unfortunately, the best solution is to cut them/dig them before they go to seed. It has taken me years to eradicate but I've gotten most of them, and I won't use herbicides bc I'm allergic to them.
    01-29-2013, 02:10 PM
Yes, your pasture will grow back in the spring. However, if you are going to have a horse and two minis on it, it will won't be much of a pasture. In order to keep a good pasture on that small an acreage you need to be able to rotate them off of it and be pretty aggressive in your pasture maintenance. Horses will not eat around their poop, so you end up with tall clumps of grass and weeds around the poop piles while it will be grazed to the ground elsewhere. I rotate between pastures, drag them to bust up poop piles, and fertilize yearly.

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