Make the most of your pastures by maintaining fences and fertilizing.

There’s a whole lot more to grazing management than simply turning your horses out when the pastures green up. Regular fence maintenance, careful planning of fertilizing and seeding, strategic weed control, and attention to temperatures and growing conditions all come into play when keeping pastures. Bob Coleman, PhD, associate director of undergraduate education in equine sciences at the University of Kentucky; David Freeman, PhD, an extension specialist at Oklahoma State University; and Brett Scott, PhD, an extension horse specialist at Texas A&M, have several tips and guidelines for horse owners to keep pastures productive.

Late Winter/Early Spring

“This is a good time to be thinking about whatever type of weed control will be needed, before weeds become an issue,” says Coleman. If the past grazing season was hard on pastures or overgrazing was an issue, and spring planting is appropriate in your location, this is a good time to think about establishing a better stand of forage in some of your pastures.

Scott says it’s important to detect weeds early in spring, before they become well-established. “Once they’re growing prolifically they can take over, block the sunlight, and rob nutrients from more desirable pasture plants,” he says. “Most weeds are broad-leaf and come out earlier than grasses. Treated early in the year, you can eliminate a weed problem and improve overall quality of warm season forages.” Spray or mow, or if it’s just a small patch you can inhibit them by chopping them off. If you find an unfamiliar plant in your pasture and don’t know whether it’s a weed, take a sample to your county extension agent to find out.