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Miniature_Horse_World_JuneJuly

Summer Grazing The image of a horse peacefully grazing in a lush, green pasture is one most horse owners can appreciate. And after a long winter of constant hay consumption, most horse owners can also look forward to somewhat reduced feed bills. But for the owner of the “easy keeper”, fresh, lush pasture is an accident waiting to happen. Horses love fresh pasture and since they have eaten hay all winter, most will ignore it altogether if there is bit of green grass to be had. New green grass is very palatable, high in sugars and full of calories. It’s great for the horse who might need a little extra condition but it’s a serious problem if your horse is insulin sensitive or inclined to develop laminitis. Sierra Ranch 40 Miniature Horse World JUNE/JULY 2013 While there is no one size fits all way to control your horse’s grass intake, there are ways to help you make informed decisions on when and how long to allow your horse to graze. Extensive studies have been done on establishing how much horses can eat per hour. It has been established horses can consume somewhere between 2 to 3% of their body weight when turned out to pasture each day. If you do the calculations, a horse grazing a well managed pasture is potentially consuming many more calories than he requires. So regulating or limiting pasture time is essential to maintaining proper body weight and condition. Timing is Everything Restricting pasture for weight and health requirements is not as straightforward as originally thought. Research was done on mares that were allowed to graze a restricted grazing area for four hours and then moved to another same-sized area for an additional four hours. Within the first four hours, the mares ate nearly 60% of their eight-hour caloric intake. Then they slowed down for the next 4 hour segment. This reveals that restricting pasture intake for three to four hours may not be an effective means of reducing calorie intake as is commonly thought. If you turn your horse out for four hours, he may eat the same as if you turned him out for eight. Grass growth and sugar content are two other factors to consider when timing your turnout schedule. Agronomy research reflects long growth and bright green are not the only warning signs for horse owners. Sugar levels in pasture grass can vary from week to week or even hour by hour. Studies show that sunlight, which drives photosynthesis, combined with stress, produces high sugars in grass. Plant stress can be caused by drought or cold. Theoretically, if you live in a sunnier climate, versus a cloudier area, you’re going to have more problems with high sugar concentrations. Warm season grasses like Bermuda form starch from excess sugar, while cool-season grasses like orchard and timothy and broadleaf weeds like dandelion form fructan. Both types are nutritionally dense and contribute to obesity. Sugar concentration can double or triple with the right conditions. Typically if you live in a cold and sunny area, you’ll have a lot of sugary grass. Breeding, training & showing the Miniature horse since 1980. Producer of World Champions. Over 100 head on our ranch located in the beautiful Sierra Mountains. We ship world wide. AMHA, AMHR, ASPC, ASPR & Modern Judge Kim & Steve Sterchi 16242 Tierra Rd. • Grass Valley, CA 95949 • Phone 1-530-268-0568 sierraminis@aol.com www.sierraminiaturehorses.com


Miniature_Horse_World_JuneJuly
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