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Grazing horses on better pastures

Horses are grazing annual warm-season forages in St. Paul, Minnesota.


When you picture a horse, you may imagine it grazing contentedly in a grassy pasture. Grazing lets horses move around naturally outdoors and socialize with other horses. And grass is an easily available, nutritious feed that horses like eating. If you have the land, providing pasture for horses is less costly than buying hay.

Horses in the Upper Midwest usually graze on cool-season perennial grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass. Perennial grasses grow year after year without being replanted. Cool-season grasses provide good forage because they grow well in the spring and fall. Most also easily survive cold winters.

Unfortunately, when it gets hot many cool-season grasses go through a summer slump. This reduces both the amount and the quality of grass available for grazing. Perennial warm-season grasses do well in hot conditions, but they do not survive cold winters. As a result, they can’t be grazed in the Upper Midwest.

A new study by Krishona Martinson and colleagues at the University of Minnesota shows that warm-season annual grasses have good potential for use in horse pastures. “Annual grasses need to be replanted from seed each year, so they involve more work than perennial grasses, but they provide horse owners more summer grazing options,” noted Martinson. Martinson is Equine Extension Specialist at the University of Minnesota.

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Post time: Jun-12-2019
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