Horses can spend almost 20 hours a day grazing grasses in order to satisfy their hunger. Investing time and money into optimising your grassland will offer considerable long-term benefits.
Horses have a very small stomach in comparison to a large hindgut & colon. The hindgut is specifically designed to break down the high fibre low nutritional grass that they would have found as they foraged on their travels.
Giving horses too many treats that contain levels of sugar-derived energy will lead them to struggle to metabolise during their normal day. Horses and ponies are also much more prone to laminitis (a very serious and potentially agonising condition) when grazing poorly managed grassland. This can mean poor nutrition will be delivered to the horse as a consequence.
Lordington Park Agronomy can help ensure your horse gets all the essential proteins, vitamins and minerals it needs. By customising your soil’s fertility and grass species through a sward management plan you can generate a self-sustaining grazing environment for horses and other animals.
We can help you find out what is happening in your soil to ensure it is balanced correctly for benefit of the grass. We can also advise on what herb species can supply mineral requirements and which grass species will deliver the energy they need.
GRASS SPECIES FOR HORSES
Sheep’s Fescue Festuca Ovina
This grass has the great ability to adapt to poor soils because it generates its own beneficial mycorrhizal fungi. Consequently, the plant community structure within the sward prospers significantly as a result of these fungal hyphae expanding prolifically in the soil. This results in greater absorption of water and nutrients.
Cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata
A persistent bunch-type grass, that once it is established provides good levels of nutrition nutrient levels similar to perennial ryegrass, but without creating NSC’s. Cocksfoot is extremely winter hardy, drought tolerant and therefore difficult to kill. Cocksfoot extracts more copper from the soil than any other grass species.
Perennial Ryegrass Lolium Spp
Has a productive life of over five years and produces 13-15 Tonnes / Hectare of Dry Matter (DM). Ryegrass is designed to produce high levels of non-structured carbohydrate (NSC’s) or fructose as sugar, from dietary intake. Therefore avoid Ryegrass where there are laminitis prone animals.
Timothy Phleum pratense
A persistent grass that provides valuable forage in a dry year. Grows at lower temperatures, so provides invaluable grazing at the beginning and end of the Season. Ideal for inclusion in a grazing mixture to provides invaluable grazing in a cold spring. An essential species for drought prone environments.
Rooting depth of 75mm
Meadow Fescue Festuca pratensis
A deeper-rooted low nutritional value species that helps maintains sward viability and drought tolerance. Perfect to include in a grazing mixture to provide Bottom to the sward Ideal for inclusion in any grazing mixture as it survives in adverse environments and is especially tolerant of acidic soil conditions.
Rooting depth of 75mm
Creeping Red Fescue Festuca rubra
This plant provides invaluable bottom to any sward. It propagates by the use of underground rhizomes. The rhizomes provides the energy to ensure the plant is drought tolerant and therefore confers the ability to provide grazing in dry weather. Grows out from the initial seed in a similar fashion to a spider’s web and propagates other clones of it is self as it spread.
Rooting depth of 50mm
Upper layer of soil covered in grass
When looking down at the grass, no soil should be visible. Therefore a highly productive grazing environment for horses, and one that will survive daily wear and tear.
Creeping underground stem that stores carbohydrate for the plant to use in stressful growing conditions.