When and How to Re-Establish Horse Pastures

When the majority of a field becomes unsuitable, it might be time to start over. Here’s what to consider before you begin and how to re-establish your pastures.
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When and How to Re-Establish Horse Pastures
Quality pastures not only add to a farm's aesthetic value, but they are also an inexpensive way to provide horses with vital nutrients. | Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture

Every year, horse managers strive to grow lush, green pastures with minimal weeds. Quality pastures not only add to a farm’s aesthetic value, but they are also an inexpensive way to provide horses with vital nutrients. Management decisions can have significant positive or negative impacts on forage quality, and when managed properly, high-quality pastures can notably reduce the need for purchased feeds.

Unfortunately, managers of small and large farms alike can become dissatisfied with their pastures for a variety of reasons. A cold winter or dry summer can leave fields in less-than-desirable conditions, or overgrazing can deplete forages, resulting in large areas of weeds and bare soil. Tall fescue can be another concern; endophyte-infected tall fescue generally increases over time and can reach dangerous levels for broodmares.

When the majority of a field becomes unsuitable, it might be time to re-establish the pasture. But before spending time and money on re-establishment, decide if it’s necessary based on the following considerations. If the following criteria cannot be met, consider options such as no-till drill seeding and herbicide applications to improve your pastures

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