Keep Pastures Healthy With Rotational Grazing

Keep Pastures Healthy With Rotational Grazing

By dividing a pasture area into smaller portions and rotating horses through each section, you can encourage horses to graze more evenly while keeping pasture grass from becoming overgrazed. Photo: Alayne Blickle Rotational grazing, called planned

By dividing a pasture area into smaller portions and rotating horses through each section, you can encourage horses to graze more evenly while keeping pasture grass from becoming overgrazed.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Rotational grazing, called planned grazing by some, refers to dividing pasture into smaller areas and grazing horses section by section. Rotational grazing is a recommended pasture management “Best Management Practice” (or BMP) to increase pasture productivity and prevent overgrazing and soil compaction. A pasture grass plant needs at least three inches of green leafy material for rapid regrowth. Healthy grass plants are important not only for a productive pasture but for the biofiltration of nutrients from manure and urine as well as sediments and chemicals. Compaction of the soil makes water infiltration and root growth difficult. Poor pasture management practices result in reduced quality and quantity of grass, increased soil erosion, nitrogen runoff (from manure and urine) and weeds. It also increases feed costs because of the reduced pasture productivity – and potentially increased vet bills if your horse eats toxic weeds.

By dividing a pasture area into smaller portions and rotating horses through each section, you can encourage horses to graze more evenly while keeping pasture grass from becoming overgrazed. This technique guarantees fresh grass for your horses for a longer period of time during the growing season.

Here are the steps to take:

The golden rule of grazing. Never allow grass to be grazed shorter than three inches. This ensures that the grass will have enough reserves after grazing to permit rapid re-growth. The bottom three inches of the grass plant is like an energy collector that needs to be left for the plant. Once horses have grazed the majority of the grass in a pasture down to three or four inches, rotate them on to the next grazing area. Return horses back to an area once grass has re-grown to at least six to eight inches. Healthly horse note: The bottom three inches of grass contains the most amounts of sugars in the form of non structural carbohydrates (see Spring Grass Saftey for more information on NSCs). Keeping horses off grass three inches or less ensures that your horse is consuming more roughage and less sugars – a much healthier food choice for your horse.

Types of fencing for rotational grazing. Use permanent fencing for the property perimeter to insure that an accidental loose horse is safely contained on your property. When using a rotational grazing system, it’s usually easiest to separate grazing areas with temporary electric fencing. You may want to first try dividing an existing large pasture in half and alternate grazing between the two halves. After you’ve gained some experience with rotational grazing, try further subdividing. Portable electric fencing is lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to move for pasture rotation. High tensile electric fence, or New Zealand-style fencing, is another inexpensive choice that requires little maintenance.

Final details. Consider placing gates so horses can easily be led (or turned out) from stall to pasture and back. Have a water source for each grazing area which can have separate water sources for each grazing area or a single water source that is accessible from more than one area. You may want to divide pastures in such a way that horses have access to shade or shelter especially if during the heat of the summer when they will be in these areas for more than a few hours.

Let me know how your rotational system is going – and happy grazing!

Alayne

Lifestyle

Les Mills Fitness Club, Auckland City, New Zealand

Last year, after having been in business for more than 50 years, the New Zealand fitness powerhouse Les Mills completed the design of an additional facility across from its flagship location on Victoria Street in Auckland City. The addition is a thoroughly re-configured industrial building that now houses three new

Read More »
HQ Magazine

HQ Lockdown Guide – free until 1st June

The HQ Lockdown Guide is free for download from the following link until the 1st June. Get yours today! https://bit.ly/hq-eqldg The guide contains articles on getting back to riding, the power of mindfulness, the technique of visualisation, wonderful mental coaching advice from Linda Hennings of Forging Ahead and much much more! It is jam-packed with… Read More »HQ Lockdown Guide – free until 1st June

The post HQ Lockdown Guide – free until 1st June appeared first on HQ Magazine.

Read More »
Lifestyle

Casa RJ, Mantua, Italy

Sometimes we find ourselves contemplating our preferences. Or, let’s be truthful here, that’s all we ever do. We keep re-evaluating our preconceived notions and questioning whether we still like what we used to like, or have we discovered something that has changed our earlier views. One of the juxtapositions we

Read More »
Lifestyle

Villa Varoise, Var, France

The angular 5,300 square-foot (492 sq.metre) Villa Varoise is a project that took its time to become a reality. Boston-based architecture firm, NADAA, completed the initial plans for the residence in 2012 and broke ground on the site in 2013. The plans for the family retreat, then dubbed “Dortoir Familial” or

Read More »

AskHQ: Curry comb conundrum

Q: I have recently heard that plastic curry combs can do damage to horses’ hair, removing its natural oils. Is this true? What should I be using instead? Asked by Sam Waite A: Recent research has suggested that cheap plastic curry combs, especially those with sharp teeth, can cause damage

Read More »
Lifestyle

Penthouse M, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Those familiar with the 1980s architecture will recall the curved whiteness and plastic-y expanses that were so modern then but today seem like tacky cruise-ship design. Some globally recognized buildings of that era include the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver. Designed by architect Eberhard Zeidler the hotel is part of

Read More »