Horse Pasture Management
- April 7, 2015
- Leigh Kelley
Join me in a three part series on small acreage grazing. In the coming blogs we will look at a non-perennial stream and how horse pasture management effects the stream stability and viability as well as the surrounding grasslands. We will close the series with ways that you can easily enhance your own pastures for greater land productivity and better horse health.
If you take away nothing else form this post hear this one thing…….RESIDUAL GRASS MATTERS.
The grass and stream on the right-hand side of the photograph is a horse pasture that does not have a rotational system, is overstocked and does not receive a rest period to generate residual grass. Usually 5 head of 1000lb horses year round.
The pasture on the left hand side of the picture is cross fenced into three paddocks, receives a rest period and is appropriately stocked with high horse density. Usually 5 head of 1200lb horses for 60 grazing days over the course of 6 months.
Now that we covered the facts lets go into the fun. Take some time to study the picture above. Here are some questions to kick around.
- Is the residual grass on the left creating a thermal blanket and assisting in snow melt?
- Does/Could this mean earlier green-up in a climate that has an already short growing season?
- How does residual grass assist in capturing the most snow melt and reduce run off?
- How is the soil microbial population effected by exposure and how does this effect horse health?
Note the undercutting or dark edge of the stream in the picture at right. This will be interesting to watch up close as spring continues and temperatures rise creating run-off.
About Leigh Kelley
My internship through Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo sent me to the mountains of Montana where I married a Montana cowboy and where we now raise our two little ranch kids. I have a had the good fortune to see some very productive and intacted...