Winter Pasture Grazing
This year I have a new plan: I only hayed my pastures once (instead of the usual three times.) I continued my usual routine of careful rotational grazing and pasture management, with the intent of stockpiling grass to be available sparingly over the winter. The result is that I have a lot of grass stockpiled right now going into the late fall. Very promising! I am hopeful that this winter I will be able to utilize my pastures without compromising their health for next growing season.
Here’s what I did:
- I hayed in June.
- I rotationally grazed for the remainder of the summer; only allowing grazing to 3-4 inches, then removing horses, mowing and harrowing (i.e., dragging). Areas were then allowed to rest and regrow to at least 8 inches before horses were back on it.
- I took the horses off pasture during irrigation periods (every two weeks) or during (infrequent) periods of heavy rain when soils are wet and soggy. This was also to avoid compaction of wet soils, making it hard for pasture plants to grow and breathe through their roots.
Throughout the winter I will continue rotational grazing and removing horses from an area once it gets down to 3 – 4 inches. Brown, dormant grass is lower in nutritional value but still high in sugar so I will monitor my horse’s weight and health as we go
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