If your horses are prone to laminitis, or you just want to keep your gravel crunching barefoot horses striding out, then you really need to know the safest times to allow grazing, especially in the spring or autumn when there are growth flushes.
Before I introduce a tool that will help horse owners with that, here are the basics to keep in mind.
- Grass gets its sugars from the sun – via photosynthesis, then uses them up to grow when the sun goes down.
- This means sugars are lowest just before the sun comes up.
- And highest in the late afternoon just before the sun goes down.
- Therefore the safest time to graze is generally between 4 am and 9 /10 am.
- Unless the overnight temperature has dropped below 5C or 40 F.
- This causes the grass to shut down and store/accumulate sugars.
- Therefore several days of low overnight temps and sunny days are extremely hazardous for grazing.
- Grazing on cloudy days is much safer, as is grass shaded by trees.
If this puts your head in a spin, you’ll love a new app for iPhones that gives you a safe grazing rating!
Nic Barker – Barefoot trimmer rehab specialist and co-author of ‘Feet First – Barefoot Performance and Hoof Rehabilitation’ (an excellent book by the way) has been trialing this new app. It was designed by Steve Leigh of Natures Way who is a hoof care practitioner and Phil Hunter at VIZAR who has developed the technology.
Read Nic’s blog post about it here: https://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/exciting-news-laminitis-app.html and then email those guys to encourage them to hurry up and release it for other areas of the world as it currently only covers the UK and Ireland!
With the need to keep many horses off the grass for long periods of time, it’s important to provide access to safe roughage that keeps the gut ticking over, ulcers at bay, and the horses happy.
Slow feeding systems are the obvious choice for trickle feeding but they do encourage horses to just stand around and eat all day. So it’s important to position them as far from the water as possible.
One of the ways to increase movement and reduce intake of grass is to make a track around the pasture that is bare of grass ideally and surfaced where possible to avoid excessive erosion.
By placing many slow-feeding hay nets around the track, horses are encouraged to move more as they search and compete for the yummiest bits of hay.