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Forgive me if this is stupid but I am a lifetime boarder now farm owner and am learning.

How do I wean horses onto pasture? I know I can only let them out for a while, but how much time the first day (pasture they are going in is still very short) should they get and how much do I increase it each day until I can leave them out there full time.

Both horses I am sure have never been on real pasture for the last 10 years. One is 17 and one is 30 (or so).

Thanks for your patience with me :D
 

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I would do it slowly - just as you would when introducing a new grain/feed.

I would start out with a 1/2 hour first for a couple of days and then increase to an hour for a couple of days to an hour and a half for a couple of days, to 2 hours and so on and so on.

My guy was at a large Eventing/Fox Hunting barn for about 6ish years, which had no pasture at all, just very large dirt paddocks that had tons of round bales sparatically placed in each to accomodate the # of horses in each padock.

Then when we moved to my MIL's farm, he went from hay 24/7, to 15 acres of pasture.

That's what I did - I introduced him to grass slowly. He was able to get free access to hay at all times throughout the process, slowly weaning him off of hay, the more he was increasing grass. Even when he was on grass pasture, he still got hay - he just didn't eat as much as he would when there was no pasture.
 

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If it's short, just put him in. Thats what we did with my mare. the pastrue was dead and short(September), so we put her in and she ran around checking things out, neighed a lot, and settled in nicely.
Of course, it depends on the size of the pasture and the horse. In a huge pasture, maybe go slower.
 

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Yep, I agree with Thunderhooves. If the pasture isn't too rich at the moment, I'd just put them straight out and just keep an eye on them for the first week. Maybe bring them in at night as well.

Its when you put long term stall kept horses into a very rich paddock straight away that you can have problems.
If your paddock IS rich, then as MIEventer said, introduce them slowly, put them out for maybe an hour a day. Or alternatively, try sectioning off the paddock and allowing them to have a small block to eat for the day to get them used to being back on grass, without being able to gorge themselves silly.
 

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What MIEventer said :)

I get to play the "put horses out for 1/2 an hour on nice grass, then spend another 1/2 an hour trying to catch them and put them back in the sacrifice paddock" starting in May... can't wait :lol:
 

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I agree with MIEventer. With this new spring grass, you're not going to want them out there all the time if they're not used to it.

At a boarding barn, my first horse was put out on a grassy pasture for a week straight (spring grass), he got laminitis, foundered, and had to be put down. Now I'm very cautious about my horses and the pasture.
 

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I am so sorry about that Drew :( :( I wish I could change that for you.

The barn that I board at, the horses were off pasture for the whole fall and winter. Now that spring is here and the pastures are growing, the horses are only alowed out there for short periods of time to start.

Horses can colic when introduced to grass too quickly, even for those who live on pasture every summer. Colic is very common in the spring due to horses being introduced to pasture too quickly from the transition from winter hay to spring grass.

So just be careful - go slow.

I get to play the "put horses out for 1/2 an hour on nice grass, then spend another 1/2 an hour trying to catch them and put them back in the sacrifice paddock" starting in May... can't wait :lol:
LOL Beau! I cannot wait to hear the stories of this adventure!
 

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Yeah I felt bad because he was only 7. Needless to say we never went back to that barn. ever. But he died when he was in TX, he was an exchange for Uma so unfortunately someone else had to deal with those consequences :(
 

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EventerDrew: WOW! Very sorry to hear about that horse of yours. I would have been so mad. Glad you're very cautious now, and that you don't still go to that barn either.

What we do is basically the same. Even a little slower. We put them out for 20 mins for a few days, than a half hour for a few days, than around 50 mins for a few days, than an hr for a few days, than and hr and a half for a few days, than so on and so on until they can be left out most of the day.
 

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Just a note, "short" pasture does not make it safer. Typically shorter pasture is more dangerous, the grass is more stressed and and higher in sugars, than a well grown in one.
 

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Yes the shorter the grass the sweeter it is but they can't eat as much. It is hard to say not having seen the pasture but I usually make the switch over about a week similar to switching feeds. In winter, we had a stall horse moved to pasture board and we just threw him out.

My feedxl account estimates a horse turned out 7-10 hours eats about 4lbs of grass and I make feed changes at .5 lb daily if that helps... So approximately .5 lb of grass an hour. :eek:)
 

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Personally, we just put them out. We don't have anywhere else to put them so we don't have a choice.

We've never had an issue, but it is also rare for horses in Australia to never be on pasture - As far as I am aware no horse i've bought has ever even been stabled.
 

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We put our guys out June 1st on pasture. About 2 or 3 weeks before we cut grass and feed the horse that way, called zero graze.
We first feed them hay and then come back about 1 hour later and fork a large forkfull to each horse.
We do this over the next 2 weeks increasing the amount of grass forked in over that time.
On the last day we feed them hay heavily and then after a few hours take them out to the pasture and turn them loose. They remain there for the next 4 months.
No catching involved and we don't have problems. By June 1st the grass is harder, the horses have been given grass so they are use to it.
If you have only 2 horses and gas fired hedge trimmer quickly cuts a large section, using the pronged manure fork rake it into a pile, put it in your wheel barrow and take it into the field. You can even scatter it if you are worried making the horses work for it.
A sykle??? works also for cutting grass but it requires skill.
 

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Im a vet student and its possibel to feed grass clippings to horses just once they are given straight away as fresh cuttings if they are allowed to sit they begin to ferment quickyl.
 

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The "correct" way to acclimate horses to grass is to start with 15 minutes and increase by 15 min intervals everyday until you hit 4 hrs. Then you are supposed to be fine for letting them stay out all day.

For my horses I kept them on a lead and just brushed them when it was 15 minutes. 30 minutes I turned them out for a bit while I walked around the pasture, and got there breakfast/dinner ready. I'm lucky though and I don't have problems catching my horses. There was another thread about this last year...

I think it would help to feed them a bunch of hay before they went out too. That way they already have some gut fill and are less likely to gorge themselves.

Edit - I give grass clippings to my horses, but as MaggiStar said we feed them right away and I spread them out so they aren't stacked up enough to ferment as quickly. They never get enough to eat for more than a couple hours.
 

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You should never feed grass clippings to horses...
Who said anything about grass clippings?? I go into the hay field where the hay is about 6 inches tall and take a cut near the roots with the hedge clipper, in our case it is a mower behind the tractor.
That grass is racked up and fed to the horses.
It has nothing to do with grass clippings you get from a lawn mower.
This is called ZERO GRAZING and is praciticed by dairy farmers all over the country. It is more effecient then allowing free graze, no trampling , no fences required. Take the grass to the cow/horse.
You control the amount they get.
Again nothing to do with grass clippings.
 

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The "correct" way to acclimate horses to grass is to start with 15 minutes and increase by 15 min intervals everyday until you hit 4 hrs. Then you are supposed to be fine for letting them stay out all day.

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How do you condition say 25 horses or even 40 horse with that method???
Cutting hay, hand feeding with a fork is the only way to do a large number of horses quickly and efficiently.

I have great grass clippings off my lawn. I have a bagger and I fertilize once a month so I have lush growth. But all clippings contain dirt, look closely at the clippings and fine dust and dirt are mixed it. Gritt.
That is the reason I don't feed my lawn clippings. I fill a large pick up truck weekly with gorgous green clippings and just dump them.
It is a shame but I fear for the horses.
 

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Who said anything about grass clippings??
You did. "we cut grass and feed the horse that way". That makes it sound like grass clippings:wink:. But I gotcha now, I know you can feed fresh chaff/haylage type grass, but I thought you meant lawn grass.
 
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