Pasture management is a task that all grazing animal owners have dealt with at one time or another.
When the thought of reseeding or buying fertilizer comes around we all cringe. If you are reseeding year after year and dumping fertilizer all over the pasture and don’t understand what is going wrong, you might want to look at how the forage is being managed.
Most pastures do not reach their prime until they are about 100 years old. That covers many generations through a family so if we do it right now, we can teach our children and improve our pastures for generations to come.
Next, a seed head is produced. This is what should be prevented if the pasture is being managed for grazing animals and there is no bare ground to be seen. If your horses can't keep up with what the land produces, mow off the seed heads. This will keep your grass in a vegetative state and have a better tasting grass for your horses.
Animal management is the main focus of most people and that is completely understandable. Everyone loves their pets and they are treated better than most CEO's at a fortune 500 company. Try a different approach and focus on forage management. You will save on feed costs, fertilizer costs, and have a healthier pasture which leads to healthier horses.
Start grazing the pasture when it gets around eight inches tall and rotate the horses to another pasture when it gets down to four inches tall. The grasses recover 50 percent faster at this height compared to grazing them to two inches tall. Not only do you have better grass in your pasture but you have better water absorption and less nutrient runoff. This works the same when baling hay before you graze, leave 4 inches of grass.
What happens to the pasture in the next two months determines what the pasture is like next spring. Many people graze the pastures down to the dirt since the frost is coming and the grass is not going to grow any more but this causes problems in the spring.
Weeds will start appearing where bare ground can be seen and we all know those can be a pain to deal with. Also, erosion will be more of an issue.
Horse and Pasture School is full of tips like this and more. Bob Hendershot, Natural Resources Conservation Service Grazing Specialist (NRCS), will be speaking on Managing Pastures on Small Acreage. Bring a sample of hay for him to analyze. He will tell you if it is nutritious enough or if you should look for different hay.
Kelley Liming DVM, a large animal vet, will be speaking on horse health issues, Lori Hillman, NRCS District Conservationist, will speak on Cost Share programs and the importance of water quality. Latham Farley, OSU extension Program Coordinator of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will speak on the revised Ohio Fence Law.
Horse and Pasture School is on Aug. 13. Registration starts at 5:30 and the speakers will start at 6. There will be displays, door prizes, and refreshments and the cost is $10 per person. The event will be held in the Agricultural Service Center, 4H Hall on the Clermont County Fairgrounds.
For directions, questions or comments, and to RSVP please call (513) 732-7075 or e-mail Latham Farley at Farley.firstname.lastname@example.org.