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View Full Version : Feeding grass clippings-is it safe



klr
May. 5, 2009, 08:13 PM
My herd is on grass 24/7 but they always need supplementing --we finially own our own horse property an plenty of lawn to mow--is I raked up the very first clippings from new mower I was trhinking of getting the bag attachment and feeding it fresh--its the same stuff as in the field--no chemicals.

Is thtis safe practice under these circumstances?

TIA klr

birdsong
May. 5, 2009, 08:17 PM
I've always heard its a no-no...waiting to see what others say. Perhaps after its dried as hay is but I thought there was a problem with bacteria while still damp.

Laurierace
May. 5, 2009, 08:19 PM
No. It ferments very quickly and is just not worth the risk.

Shadow14
May. 5, 2009, 08:21 PM
I too thought it was a no no but that said I know someone who always fed them with no
problems. With a tractor mower you don't have to deal with exhaust fumes but what about dirt/grit ? When I sometimes run my hands through fresh cut grass sometimes there is lots of dirt mixed with it.
If the grass feels good, doesn't seem to be mixed with dirt spread it out and try small amounts to condition the horse to it.

goeslikestink
May. 5, 2009, 08:24 PM
no-- freash cut grass isnt the same as they eating grass
its gets juicy when cut like fresh cut hay one would give it eat until its dried

you will and can cuase colic if given grass cutting

LouLove
May. 5, 2009, 08:36 PM
My friend had a mare. The neighbours thought they would be nice and give the "horsey" fresh cut lawn clippings. Mare foundered. I always remember that and would never feed clippings.

klr
May. 5, 2009, 08:58 PM
but now I'm more worried about mowing the field--for now I only have the one field,as soon as its dry enough--currently a swamp--I plan on mowing--what about them eating it then--mowing is supposed to make for better grazing--maybe Ill just be mowing uneaten weeds-but in future there will be much more pasture fenced to mow. does everyone keep horses off fresh mowed fields?

I remember seeing a tv program years ago about Japanese racehorses living is high rise stables and eating trays of hydroponicly grown grass--but that was roots and all not cut.

Thank you all for the input klr

starkissed
May. 5, 2009, 09:11 PM
Its ok to give it to them in handfuls, but I definitely would not fill up the bag and dump it in. I think the main reason is it can get moldy kind of quickly in the head and ferment.

I wouldnt worry at all about when you mow. let my horse graze loose on tha lawn, even while my dad is mowing, and he will eat the stuff thats cut (he doesnt have to go through the effort of biting the grass off...hehe). No probs.

Painted Horse
May. 5, 2009, 09:12 PM
I give my horses grass clippings. The big problem with clippings is they go moldy very quickly, So don't feed more than they will eat in a short period of time. ( You don't want them to come back to the pile three hours later.) Where I may get 4-5 bags full of grass on the mower, My horse get 1 bag and the rest goes in the compost pile.

Also some horses will choke on the clippings if they try to eat them too quickly. Since the clippings are small, the horses don't feel the need to chew like they would with long stemed grass. If you have a horse that tends to wolf his feed. Then I wouldn't give him clippings.

And yes some horses can colic or founder on a sudden change to a rich diet. My horses are eating green grass all day anyway, So I don't see it causing a sudden change in their diet to give some clippings.

I don't see a lot of difference between letting them eat a small pile of clippings vs just letting them graze on my lawn. ( which I do on occassions)

You will have to decide if these risk are reasonable for your horses. You will probably get more people advising against it than saying it is OK. And thats because there are probably more horses out there that should not be eating grass clippings for one reason or another. Like most things in life, make an educated decision based on why something is good or bad and not based on old wives tales.

goodhors
May. 5, 2009, 09:22 PM
No, to feeding the clippings.

I would keep horses off the mowed field for a day or two, so clippings dry a little. Horses will prefer live grass to graze, it is more tender, so clippings will have less appeal as they dry out.

I leave the clippings on the field, they dry and break down, first acting as mulch on plants, before going back into the soil. This actually benefits the grass in field, with returning minerals acting as fertilizer. A season's worth of clipped grass, equals an entire application of paid fertilizer. So you are getting a FREE application by the end of summer.

People who rake off the clipped grass are really throwing away money and benefits to the grass plants. That clipped grass gives more benefit to the yard or field, than if you composted it.

Don't cut the field too short, 4-5 inches, is short enough. Longer leaves are more protection to the roots and dirt around the plant. Longer leaves provide more food to the plant, stronger roots grow when trimmed leaves are still feeding them.

Pally
May. 5, 2009, 09:22 PM
I wouldn't give clippings from a mower. The small, tightly packed grass particles will just sour quickly. I would (and have) however, if you have a high growing area somewhere, cut off (by hand) some long blades of grass and feed them. Again not a huge pile at once, just the equivalent to a flake or two of hay.

Alagirl
May. 5, 2009, 09:27 PM
getting some long grass cut and fed is not a big deal, been done for stall bound animals for ages, grass clippings, I'd pass, depending on your climate, the stuff starts turning immidiately...I mean, stick your hand in a fresh pile, chances are you can already feel the heat coming on.

Seven-up
May. 5, 2009, 10:13 PM
I mow pastures with the horses in there most of the time, and don't have any problems.

The difference with feeding what you collect from a lawnmower and what you mow and leave on the ground is that the stuff from the mower usually sits in the bag all clumped together and the moisture can't dissipate. So then you have issues with mold and fermentation and such. If you look closely at the grass that mowers spit back out onto the ground, it's spread out pretty well and it dries very fast. I mow often, so the cut stuff is dry within an hour or 2.

As long as you mow the grass regularly so that you're not left with a thick layer of grass that can't dry, you're usually ok.

sublimequine
May. 5, 2009, 10:46 PM
I think if the clippings are fed IMMEDIATELY to the horse, and not allowed to sit for even an hour, you're okay. That is, if you don't randomly feed a horse unaccostomed to grass 50 lbs of clippings or something. :lol:

FWIW, my mare has eaten "hand picked" grass (ie, I go out in a field and pick a bunch of grass myself for her, and bring it to her), and fresh clippings from a mower. The stable guy had just mowed around the outdoor arena, and blew a bunch of the clippings into the arena. He said if I wanted to give my mare a treat I should turn her out in the indoor. He's always giving me tips on how to give my mare snacks, it's great. :lol:

Old Equine Lady
May. 5, 2009, 11:06 PM
We will let them in a field that is freshly cut but not bagged, but we cut our fields every other week. They seem to not always eat the clippings, but go for the tender stuff that is easier to get to when the fields are cut. Never bag anything, just leave it out to dry......

shakeytails
May. 6, 2009, 12:12 AM
I blow lawnmower clippings under the fencelines, and I will also feed fresh clippings. My horses are used to grass. If feeding bagged or raked clippings- I spread them out (in a paddock, not a stall) so they can't grab big mouthfuls at once and it also allows the clippings to dry out. You have to be careful with bagging, though, because they start to heat up and ferment really quickly. I've also allowed the clippings to dry on the lawn (like really short hay), then raked them up and fed them.

WaningMoon
May. 6, 2009, 07:28 AM
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/05-055.htm

A few paragraphs down.

CamdenLab
May. 6, 2009, 12:55 PM
I clipped the long patches of my horse's pasture over the weekend -- he won't touch it. Then, I took the RTV with the heavy rake and raked his field, spreading the clippings and manure piles (four acres with one horse). He's still alive. :)

BuddyRoo
May. 6, 2009, 12:59 PM
A fresh handful or two? Sure.

A fresh bag full to horses already out on pasture? Okay.

But dumping a few bags of fresh clippings in to horses who have been on dry lot all winter/spring? Bad idea.

Why? Well...for one, they're not used to grass at all period. Next, when horses graze, they don't take in the same amount of grass as they do when it's pre cut and they can just get a huge mouthful. Can we say impaction colic?

A lot of horses might do just fine with it...but it's something I'd prefer not be given to my horses...especially if they're on dry lot. (IR horse)

LouLove
May. 6, 2009, 04:26 PM
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/05-055.htm

A few paragraphs down.


I copied and pasted for ease:

"Even pure grass clippings are unacceptable. The small particle size and high moisture content of grass cut with a lawn mower result in rapid fermentation in warm weather. Feeding lawn clippings and garden refuse to horses can lead to colic, botulism, laminitis and/or death and is not recommended. "

lindasp62
May. 7, 2009, 09:37 AM
I agree with the rest:
-possibility of it fermenting/molding quickly
-moisture content (too much;too soon)
-too easy to "bolt" the clippings-regular grazing is slower and best
-sucks up dirt also from lawnmower which makes a fine dust mixed in clippings
-can grind up noxious/bad weeds and mix in too finely with clippings and horses will eat as they are "bolting" it.

I wouldn't take the chance. Just hand-graze to get them adjusted to the new spring grass.

aiken4horses
May. 7, 2009, 04:39 PM
My friends horse died after being fed grass clippings. The property owner's son thought he was giving the horse a "treat" by dumping the bag of clippings in his pen.

It's called "killing them with kindness".

Auventera Two
May. 7, 2009, 04:46 PM
I always blow the clippings under the fence when I mow, and they walk along vaccuming them up. Never had a problem. But I don't think its a good idea to collect a ton of them and dump them in a pile. I always thought it was the heat and fermentation that was a problem. So blowing them under the fence works great because you get this nice, even strip of grass that's all spread out. After about 1 minute, they come running up to the fence and start eating. But of course they're accustomed to grass. I would be really careful with a horse that normally gets no grass.

Flash44
May. 7, 2009, 04:58 PM
NO

Do not feed grass clippings. It will cause colic. If you have to mow and leave a lot in the pasture, try to keep the horses off them for 2-3 days of dry weather.

MaresNest
May. 7, 2009, 09:12 PM
Never feed grass clippings, for all of the reasons already posted about.

My horse colicked about 6 years ago from eating grass clippings in a boarding situation. She was pasture boarded on a beautiful, lush field, so she was accustomed to 24/7 access to thick, green grass. One afternoon the farm manager mowed the field while the horses were still in it, and she colicked the next morning.

p.s. If you live somewhere where it gets hot in the summer, it probably would work to pick a hot, dry day, mow early in the morning, keep the horses in for the day, and then turn them back out at night. I have done that without problems. No guarantees, though.

Shadow14
May. 7, 2009, 09:14 PM
we mow the pastures all the time with the horses in the field having total access to the clipping but the grass is alot coarser then lawn grass.
I also cycle alot of grass from the ditches around the area and dump it into the horses fields. 3 or 4 garbage pails full daily. Again this is alot different then the grass bagged from cutting the lawn.
I checked the grass in the bagger tonight and it is clumpy, extemely wet and definitly something I would not feed.

shakeytails
May. 7, 2009, 10:28 PM
My horse colicked about 6 years ago from eating grass clippings in a boarding situation. She was pasture boarded on a beautiful, lush field, so she was accustomed to 24/7 access to thick, green grass. One afternoon the farm manager mowed the field while the horses were still in it, and she colicked the next morning.

Are you sure it was from the grass clippings? I had a horse get sick (acted colic-y but also had some neurological symptoms) the morning after I mowed his small paddock. Both the vet and I figured that he probably ate some toxic weed that he normally would not have touched, but since it was chopped up, he ate some along with the grass.

Tom Bloomer
May. 8, 2009, 07:07 AM
I always blow the clippings under the fence when I mow, and they walk along vaccuming them up.I do the same thing, but mine catch it before it hits the ground. :lol:

Petstorejunkie
May. 8, 2009, 09:32 AM
nope fresh grass clippings can kill horses because they ferment very quickly. you can lay them out to dry like hay and once COMPLETELY dry you may feed them

MaresNest
May. 8, 2009, 12:34 PM
Are you sure it was from the grass clippings? I had a horse get sick (acted colic-y but also had some neurological symptoms) the morning after I mowed his small paddock. Both the vet and I figured that he probably ate some toxic weed that he normally would not have touched, but since it was chopped up, he ate some along with the grass.

Well, never say never, but I think it's far more likely to be the grass clippings, honestly. Grass clippings are commonly known to ferment in the gut and cause gas colics. This was a classic gas colic, and a horse who had never had a gas colic before and hasn't had one since. (I've had her since she was 4, and she is now 21.) So I think it's vastly more likely to have been the copious amounts of grass clippings that were in the pasture than some small little bits of weed. This was a 16 acre field with only 4-6 horses on it. Lush, lush, lush, and not weedy.

Bogie
May. 8, 2009, 12:36 PM
I wrote about this last year:

Grass Clippings Don't Make Good Forage for Horses (http://equineink.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/grass-clippings-dont-make-good-forage-for-horses/)

sketcher
May. 8, 2009, 12:41 PM
I too thought it was a no no but that said I know someone who always fed them with no
problems. With a tractor mower you don't have to deal with exhaust fumes but what about dirt/grit ? When I sometimes run my hands through fresh cut grass sometimes there is lots of dirt mixed with it.
If the grass feels good, doesn't seem to be mixed with dirt spread it out and try small amounts to condition the horse to it.

Your friend was lucky.

As far as dirt, any animal that can chew grain and simultaneously eject powdered bute surely won't have a problem eating around a little dirt.

johnvile
Jun. 14, 2009, 01:16 PM
I'm a horse newbie, we finally broke down and got our daughter her own horse. My question is: How long should I keep a horse off a freshly mowed pasture/lawn? I have been letting the horse graze in the back yard, but there are some weeds she won't eat, so I'd just like to level it out a little bit. I use a mulching mower and will not be feeding her the clippings. I am in Oklahoma and it is know getting HOT (95+) and very little rain in the forecast, so it should dry pretty fast.

Thanks

MaresNest
Jun. 14, 2009, 02:23 PM
I'm a horse newbie, we finally broke down and got our daughter her own horse. My question is: How long should I keep a horse off a freshly mowed pasture/lawn? I have been letting the horse graze in the back yard, but there are some weeds she won't eat, so I'd just like to level it out a little bit. I use a mulching mower and will not be feeding her the clippings. I am in Oklahoma and it is know getting HOT (95+) and very little rain in the forecast, so it should dry pretty fast.

Thanks

I have mowed early in the morning on a hot, dry day and turned the horses back out after dinner. I wouldn't do that if the grass was tall, though. Or if I had another pasture I could use for a day or two. Generally speaking, one hot, dry summer day is a bare minimum. Two or three would be best. And if it's cloudy or raining, longer.

Welcome to the horse world!

S1969
Jun. 14, 2009, 03:08 PM
I frequently mow with my horses in the pasture, so I don't think it's necessary to wait before letting them back on a freshly mowed pasture. That is, assuming, they are already accustomed to eating grass; I generally adjust from hay to pasture over the course of a week or more. So I would not take a horse eating hay and throw them out on a freshly mowed pasture.

I sometimes let my kids rake up handfuls of lawn grass while I'm mowing the lawn and feed it to the horses. More than that is probably a bad idea, for all the reasons already mentioned.

HowDoYouLikeMeNow
Jun. 15, 2009, 02:30 PM
NO!! Don't, it can be the cause of colic because it is already chopped up for them, they will eat twice as fast and they could also founder because they can eat twice as much and would eat too much.