Introducing Horses to Growing Spring Pastures

The long, harsh winter is gradually changing into spring. Here are a few things to consider before turning your horses out on growing pastures.
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The long, harsh winter is gradually changing into spring! Here are a few things to consider before turning your horses out on lush growing pastures.

Changes in Pasture Growth

During the winter months and times of inclement weather, domestic horses are often confined in areas where they cannot access natural forage on a day to day basis. Many owners that have pastures restrict the horse's access to the pasture in winter to protect the pasture from the damage a horse can inflict. Horses are destructive on wet pastures often ripping the forage by the roots with their teeth, or causing extensive damage to the sod by churning and forming rivets with their hoofs.

But along with the warmer temperatures comes changes to the pasture's condition, when grass turns to a greener appearance and regains nutritional value for the grazing horse. Early in spring, grasses are striving to grow and must have two to three weeks to develop a length of stem that will assist growth in the following growing season. Horses should not graze on these early plants until the grass is at least four to six inches in height

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