Weed Management for Small Horse Properties

Our equine nutritionist gives advice on how to prevent weeds in your horse pastures.

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Weed Management for Small Horse Properties
Because you often can do little to prevent weed seeds from arriving in your pastures, it becomes a matter of managing your pastures so weeds are less able to become established. | Photo: iStock

Q. I keep my horses on a small, 5-acre property. This summer my pastures have grown a lot of weeds. I’m not really sure what has changed—I bought the property two years ago, and last summer the weeds weren’t so bad. Where would the weeds have come from, and why are they getting worse?

A. Pasture weeds can be a frustrating problem. Not only are some toxic to horses but they also gradually choke out the desirable grasses and reduce the pasture’s nutritional value. Additionally, some weeds are high in sugars and not suitable for horses with metabolic conditions.

Where Weeds Come From

Weeds can arrive from several means. Some seeds travel long distances on the wind, while others might drop in the pasture with bird or animal feces or fur. Some seeds might also have come from the horse’s hay or forage, either passing through their digestive tract and out in feces in a still-viable form, or from hay that contains weeds, especially when that hay is fed loose on the ground. This is just one reason to check your forage for

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Written by:

Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

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