With the hay season in full swing in most areas, some of you will be lucky enough to cut your own paddocks. Once the hay is baled and stored, it’s a great opportunity to put your horses on the pasture to clean up left over grass around the edges.
But beware! If you have a horse that is prone to being overweight, or has foundered previously, giving them access to the uncut hay is a recipe for disaster.
Feeding you horse/pony mature grass with seed heads is like letting a diabetic person into a lolly shop and saying ‘eat all you like’!
Freshly cut grass needs to recover a little and start growing again before it’s suitable for grazing. The remaining stems after cutting hay will be high in sugars (stored in the stem base) but once the plant puts some energy into growing it is safer.
Even though there is more grass there will be less sugar per mouthful, but you must watch the horse and limit their access if they are over eating.
It will vary according to the amount of rain you have after cutting as to how soon your regrowth will able to be grazed.
As for the tall grass left around the edges, it’s best to let cattle or horses that can handle a more feed eat that first before letting your laminitic prone horse onto the paddock. It might even be safer to slash it down and let it dry off if you can’t graze it. Or otherwise, fence it off so the ‘fatties’ can’t access the edges.
If you would like more information of how grass affects horses, or laminitis, go to www.safergrass.org where there are a lots of helpful articles (many new) by Kathryn Watts – ‘the grass guru!’.