Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author. While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.
Maintaining Healthy Horse Pastures Chris Teutsch Southern Piedmont AREC Blackstone, VA
Introduction • Horses co-evolved with grasslands • natural grazing animal • able to digest plant fiber • extract energy from low quality feed source • Modern Pastures • high quality feed source • inexpensive feed source • hay can cost 4 to 6 times • safe exercise area
Introduction • Little agronomic training • Poor pasture management • loss of groundcover • loss of desirable species • increase in weed species • limited value as a feed • unsafe exercise area • environmental problem Overstocked Pasture
Manure Water Erosion Damage • Ag Stewardship Act • 18% equine in 2005 • Soil loss • Nutrients offsite • Manure is washed into waterways • Erosion is prevented by maintaining groundcover
Pasture Management Topics • Plant Growth • relation to management • Pasture Species • species selection • Controlling Grazing • layout of paddocks • pasture size • rotational grazing basics Strong relationship between horse and owner impacts decision making
O2 O2 O2 O2 O2 O2 The Photosynthetic Factory Sunlight, H20, Nutrients, CO2 Factory:Plant Leaf Consumer Outlet: Growth and Maintenance of the plant Warehouse: CHO Reserves in Plant
Defoliation Event • What is needed for regrowth? ENERGY • Where does this energy come from? • leaf area remaining • stored carbohydrates
Alfalfa • 100% dependent on stored CHO’s • Decrease until 6-8” • Return to precut level by early bloom • Allow 30-35 d rest • Cut at 2 inches • All forages have similar cycle
Grass Regrowth Collar is present = no more growth Do we graze this leaf off? STOP!
Morphology and Physiology in Relation to Grazing Management High Leaf Area + High CHOs = Higher Yields + Faster Recovery
Forages in Virginia • “Transition Zone” • not in north and south • cool-season species-grow in spring & fall • warm-season species-grow in summer • no single forage well adapted over entire grazing season • Problem or opportunity? • many species seasonally adapted
JAN MAR MAY JUL SEPT NOV KY Bluegrass Orchardgrass Tall Fescue Ladino Clover Red Clover Alfalfa Small Grains Ryegrass Bermudagrass Switchgrass Caucasian Bluestem Sorghum-Sudan Pearl Millet Cool-Season Grasses Legumes Cool-Season Annual Grasses Warm-Season Grasses Warm-Season Annual Grasses Adapted from Controlled Grazing of Virginia’s Pastures, Publication 418-012 Growth Curves for Common Forages
Forage Species for Virginia • Characteristics of forages species • regionally adapted • adapted to your soils • high yielding • high nutritive value • drought and heat tolerant • tolerant of close and frequent grazing • persistent • What are the options?
Kentucky Bluegrass • Cool-season perennial • Best adapted west of Blueridge Mountains • Forms dense sod • Tolerates close and frequent grazing • Lower yielding • Does not tolerate heat and drought
Orchardgrass • High nutritive value • Palatable • Hay or Pasture • Bunchgrass-forms open sod • Does not tolerate close and frequent defoliation • Limited summer growth • Limited persistence • Insect problems
Tall Fescue • Most important grass species in transition zone • Tolerates close and frequent grazing • Drought and heat tolerant • Easy to establish • Tough sod
Tall Fescue Toxicosis • Infected with an endophyte • drought and grazing tolerance • production of toxins • Toxic effects on broodmares • abortions, prolonged gestation, birthing problems, retained placentas, agalactia • Management • remove mares 60-90 days before foaling • replace infected stands • new technologies
Novel or Friendly Endophyte • Gives persistence and stress tolerance • No production of toxins • Initial research showed no reproductive problems • Field must be fescue free before seeding • Must be properly managed • No long-term persistence data in horse pastures
Seeded Bermudagrass • Bermudagrass is adapted to Virginia • Relatively little planted • Sprigs and sprigging • do not have equipment and sprig sources • Seeded bermudagrass • establish like any small seeded forage • Cultivar • single pure variety • Blend • mixture of several varieties, AZ common, giant • same trade name, but different mixture
2002 DM Yield: 1st Production Yr Rainfall was more than 8 inches below normal
Persistence: Cold Tolerance Million dollar question!!!
Spring Green Up-5/9/2003 ‘SunGrazer’ ‘Cheyenne’ ‘Pasto Rico’ ‘Wrangler’
Selecting a Variety • Yield is important • Cold tolerance is more important • Do not use varieties that include ‘Giant’ and/or ‘Arizona Common’ • Disease resistance?????? Extreme cold will kill all varieties!!!
Red Clover • Most important pasture legume • Short-lived perennial • Good drought tolerance • Excellent seedling vigor • Easily established • frost seeding • “Red Clover Slobbers”
White Clover • Important in pastures • Three types • small, medium, large • Ladino or large type produces 3-5X • Stolons • well adapted to grazing • Poor drought tolerance • persists via reseeding • Very high in quality
Pasture Fertility • Soil Test • sample depth should be 2-4” • adjust pH to 6.2-6.5 • adjust P and K to high level • maintain nutrient level • Nitrogen Management • cool-season grasses • 40-60 lb/A in spring • 40-60 lb/A in late summer or early fall • Animals recycle 90-95% of nutrients • redistribution of nutrients • drag pastures to distribute dung • soil test and adjust P and K every 2-3 years
Controlling Grazing • Residual Leaf Area • rotate horses when shortest grass is at proper stubble height • leave plenty of leaf area • Carbohydrate Reserves • rest period allows for replenishment of carbohydrates after regrowth • Maintain Botanical Composition • 30% legumes no N needed
Pasture Layout • One large pasture or several smaller pastures? • One large pasture • continuous grazing weakens sod • selective grazing • redistribution of nutrients • Several smaller paddocks • rotational grazing strengthens sod • reduces selective • better distribution of manure
Paddock Number and Size • One horse requires 2-3 acres • REQUIREMENT-NOT AN OPTION • Paddock Number • 4 to 6 paddocks • Paddock Size • depend on horse number and rotation interval • rotation interval should be < 5 days • Designate a Sacrifice Paddock • well drained • low erosion potential • surrounded by a grass buffer
Paddock Layout -close to square -avoid irregular shapes -access to shade Barn House -fresh water source -uniform soil, forage, slope, aspect, production potential
The Real World • Not everyone has 2-3 acres per horse • We can’t control the weather • We can control grazing!!!!!!!! • What do you do? • subdivide and rotate • do not graze pastures that have not regrown • Use a sacrifice paddock • feed horses hay in when grass is not growing • exercise during wet conditions • accept that you can not maintain grass
Water Barn 2 3 4 1 6 5 Sacrifice Paddock Example Paddock Layout Warm-Season Grass Warm-Season Grass