Green Grass: Approach with Caution

Here are some points to consider before turning out horses in lush green pastures.
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Spring has sprung, summer’s here, and green pasture is coming on like gangbusters in most parts of the country.

For most of us this is good news, because green grass relieves some pressure from searching for reasonably priced high-quality hay. If you have pasture and intend to use it for horses, however, there are some things to consider.

Keep in mind that going from dry hay and grain to lush, green pasture is a drastic change in a horse’s diet and can increase his risk of founder or colic. Horses that are on pasture full time will gradually become accustomed to the emerging green grass. But horses that haven’t had green grass should only be allowed to graze for an hour or two at first, then gradually increase grazing time by an hour every couple days until the horse is out full time.

Also allow horses to eat dry hay prior to turnout so they are not overly hungry. Individual horses will have different tolerance levels to the diet change and the grass’ nutritional profile, so the slower the introduction, the better

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Written by:

Karen Davison, PhD, is an equine nutritionist and sales support manager for the horse business group at Purina Animal Nutrition. Her expertise includes equine nutrition, reproduction, growth, and exercise physiology. She received her MS and PhD from Texas A&M University.

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