Grazing and Pasture
This month, we celebrate dung beetles! For horse owners, dung beetles mean mean less cleaning paddocks and poo shovelling, and great soil development, without cost or effort - all things that align with the permaculture principles. Dung beetles also benefit your horse’s health by helping control fly and parasitic worm populations. While this is great news for all horse and cattle owners, these tiny workers need the right conditions to establish and thrive.
How many horses can you keep on the land you have? The short answer is it depends on many factors - most importantly the land’s carrying capacity and how you manage it. The land’s carrying capacity will depend on factors, such as climate, soil type, soil condition and fertility, slope (aspect), water and pasture base. If you want to obtain all your horses’ forage requirements from your land, you will require much more land than you will if you are buying in feed.
While many horse owners are quite aware of the importance of providing roughage to our horses - either from pasture and/or conserved forages - there are different aspects to consider when deciding on what conserved forage you should feed to your horses and how much you should provide (e.g. quality versus quantity). This series explains the latest advances and recommendations for feeding conserved forage presented in a recent review paper (Harris et al. 20161), which was initiated by the European Workshop for Equine Nutrition (EWEN) meeting held in Portugal in 2012.
This is the time when Winter annual plants germinate. Germination occurs due to a complex interaction between moisture, temperature and day length. In Summer rainfall areas, the newly emergent plants will appear among the remnants of the Summer-growing pastures. While, in Winter rainfall areas, they give a green flush to previously dry, brown paddocks. This newly emerging green is your horses’ Winter grazing, so nurture it.
While many horse owners are aware pasture and conserved forages should be the basis of horse diets (even in performance horses), there are different aspects to consider when deciding what type of conserved forage you should feed your horses and how much you should provide - quality vs. quantity. Over the next three issues of Horses and People, we will bring you the latest advances and recommendations for feeding conserved forage highlighted in a recent review of the scientific findings in equine nutrition.
Research has shown pasture-induced laminitis occurs at times of rapid grass growth. The accumulation of certain non-structural carbohydrates (NSC’s), including fructans, starches and sugars in pasture forage during the Spring, early Summer and Autumn, particularly after rainfall, precipitate this laminitis. Therefore, we must carefully manage pasture turnout and forage intake in horses and ponies that are at risk for developing laminitis or are currently affected by this condition.
Although officially Autumn, March really is the tail end of Summer in Australia. Change is in the air. Days are getting shorter and temperatures beginning to drop. In Summer-rainfall areas the rain is coming to an end, while in Winter-rainfall areas, the end of the dry approaches.
We all want the best for our horses and, ultimately, our horses’ long-term health is generally determined by what they eat and how active they are. In this article, Des Warnock, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Batphone Australia, a company that provides products and education about improving plant and soil health sustainably, reminds us we need to start from the ground up - literally! How healthy is your pasture?
February already! If you haven’t made some New Year’s resolutions about how you are going to manage your pasture in 2017, now’s as good a time as any. Remember, you are aiming to: Create a good place for horses and people, Provide safe, nutritious horse pasture, and Minimise environmental impacts. By: Matching pasture growth and grazing pressure, Maintaining groundcover, and Maintaining pasture species diversity. Making it easy
Summer means heat. In southern Australia, it also generally means drought or at least dry times. But in other areas, summer rains - often in the form of storms - predominate. In southern Australia in particular, pastures are often dominated by Winter active annuals species and these senesce - die - at this time of year. If your pasture doesn’t contain Summer active species, the plants that are present now are pretty much the pasture ration from now until next Autumn, when the Winter annuals germinate.