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View Full Version : Can I ask a stupid question about mowing pastures?



dmalbone
Jun. 24, 2010, 06:18 PM
Keep in mind this is our first time with actual GRASS pastures. Heavenly.... I know you're not supposed to feed grass clippings to horses, but what do you do when you mow your pastures!? I have no way to rake up the entire field. If there's actual grass will they leave them alone? I feel dumb. :lol: I also have found HUGE hoof prints that I apparently need to get filled in before the grass gets any taller. How do people keep pastures nice!?! I was going to introduce the pony to the big guy but I can't with holes everywhere in the ground.

cssutton
Jun. 24, 2010, 07:11 PM
Hoof prints will not hurt your pony. Ground hog holes, fox dens, etc., are a different matter.

Forget the hoof prints.

Feeding a pile of clippings that have started molding or fermenting is a bad deal, but the clippings from mowing are not the same.

Millions of horses have remained in pasture during and after mowing with no harm done.

Your horses will eat the green stuff and ignore the clippings.

Forget it.

CSSJR

dmalbone
Jun. 24, 2010, 07:15 PM
Thanks. I guess hoof prints was a bad description. I'm shock that he didn't get injured or pull something making them. Some literally are almost a foot deep. Surely that can't be safe...

Alagirl
Jun. 24, 2010, 07:22 PM
You said it was gonna be a dumb question! :no:

Anyhow, Mulching: the clippings are kicked up and cut again a few times, by the time you are done you can hardly tell you didn't back it. My grass cutting guy has - for residential applications - huge riding mower, I had raked last year's leaves on the grass, forgot to pick up some small branches I had clipped...I could not find traces of either...

It should be on the top of your investment list to get a top notch mulching mower into the equipment shed, worth it's weight in gold!

jazzrider
Jun. 24, 2010, 09:59 PM
As cssutton says, millions of horses have remained in pasture during and after mowing with no harm done. If you're nervous about it though -- do what I did the first few years we moved to our horse farm -- split your pasture and let the clippings dry out a bit before putting the horses back in the mowed area. We now have our land split into four rotation pastures -- it really helps give the grass a chance to grow and the land to rest. I rotate every 7 days, and cut the pasture to 6 inches when they rotate off. We've got 5 horses on about 9 acres, and it's allowed us to really keep everything in good shape.

2DogsFarm
Jun. 25, 2010, 09:00 AM
Don't worry - my boys used to line up at the fenceline when I mowed the lawns so they could get the clippings as they spewed from the mower.
When I mowed the pastures they'd follow me - like a Vegas buffet :D

As long as you are not talking honking huge heaps of clippings that sit in the wet & mold your horses s/b fine.
Think hayfield. The mown hay sits tedded in rows before it's baled.

As for your ruts - as long as they are not burrows but just hoofprints they will even out from the horses walking on them.
It will make mowing the pastures kind of a thrill ride for you until they do, but they don't do any harm.

deltawave
Jun. 25, 2010, 09:17 AM
Cross another one off your list of worries. :) Mow away, they'll be fine. Hoof pocks won't hurt them and will move somewhere else with the next rainfall.

secretariat
Jun. 25, 2010, 10:10 AM
http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=5145

Not directly related but useful:
http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=112

ReSomething
Jun. 25, 2010, 12:18 PM
If you want to reduce pocking, keep the horses off until the ground has had a little chance to dry after a rain. This will also reduce the creation of mud in heavily used areas like around gates. (There's other stuff to do around gates, such as putting in base, geotextile such as cow carpet, trust me, you'll be happy if you do it.)

You can also roll your pastures, which kind of flattens them out, and you can do some filling with sand if it is really important to you. The pocky stuff will be the most annoying when the ground is frozen because if you aren't careful you could get serious "craters of the moon" especially in muddy areas, that the horses have to pick their way across and may make you turn your ankle if you try to walk across it.

It's all a learning experience.

carolprudm
Jun. 25, 2010, 12:36 PM
Don't worry - my boys used to line up at the fenceline when I mowed the lawns so they could get the clippings as they spewed from the mower.
When I mowed the pastures they'd follow me - like a Vegas buffet :D

As long as you are not talking honking huge heaps of clippings that sit in the wet & mold your horses s/b fine.
Think hayfield. The mown hay sits tedded in rows before it's baled.

As for your ruts - as long as they are not burrows but just hoofprints they will even out from the horses walking on them.
It will make mowing the pastures kind of a thrill ride for you until they do, but they don't do any harm.

A lot depends on the type of mower you are using. We had a MF Belly mounted mower which spit the clippings out to the side in nice neat windrows of two inch pieces. I fed that to the horses for years:)

It died and we switched to a tow behind finishing or mulching mower which practically purees the clippings. I never felt comfortable feeding more than a few handfulls of that at a time

Catersun
Jun. 25, 2010, 03:37 PM
You said it was gonna be a dumb question! :no:

Anyhow, Mulching: the clippings are kicked up and cut again a few times, by the time you are done you can hardly tell you didn't back it. My grass cutting guy has - for residential applications - huge riding mower, I had raked last year's leaves on the grass, forgot to pick up some small branches I had clipped...I could not find traces of either...

It should be on the top of your investment list to get a top notch mulching mower into the equipment shed, worth it's weight in gold!


HEH... I mulch my rough..... shred all those piles of poo up, let the chickens out for a while, then do the rain dance.... gorgeous grass that after a good heavey rain. the horses munch away on until somebody starts pottying on it again.

For all intense purposes we have just the perfect amount of pasture for my herd that I rarely have to mow for the sake of the grass, but I mulch the poo piles by setting the blades pretty low and then running the piles over a time or two. Works really well so far.

BoysNightOut
Jun. 26, 2010, 10:37 PM
Don't feel stupid, OP.....this will be my first summer with horses at home soon, and we will have grass pastures too. I was wondering the exact same thing about mowing and horse turnout, lol. :)

leslie645
Jun. 26, 2010, 10:54 PM
My equine vet told me "you would be taking a chance letting them eat lawn clippings...too fine of peices" He said a bushhog is Ok, not a lawn mower. So Ive always keep my pastures divided and put the horses in the other section for a few days. FWIW~~Mine wont eat moldy anything...as long as there is something else available, so I dont worry about that.

Leslie

cssutton
Jun. 27, 2010, 11:20 AM
Apparently your vet has more book knowledge than real life experience.

By the way, for those of you with a tractor large enough, I mow pastures with a flail mower. It will not throw a rock at your horses (mine will never move over far enough when I mow past them).

It also almost never scalps because it has a full length roller for setting the height of cut.

The pasture ends up looking as smooth as a lawn.

It is much noisier than a bush hog. Hearing protection is a must.

I use the bush hog now only for idle land that gets mowed only once or twice a year.

Entrance roads, drives, etc., look much better when mowed with the flail mower.

CSSJR

Auventera Two
Jun. 27, 2010, 12:10 PM
You worry too much. ;) We live in a giant sandbox. Badgers, skunks and fox excavate huge holes in the middle of the pastures and somehow over the 14 years we've been here, we have never had a single leg injury from somebody stepping in a hole. The only catastrophic leg injury I've had, happened in a perfectly smooth, square paddock up by the barn without a single hole or divet or lump in site. And the horse had DSLD and the limb was already weak and in trouble.

Yes, we backfill everywhere possible but I can't walk the fields every day with a bucket of dirt and a shovel. Every time I mow the fields, I see a fresh excavated hole made by some kind of varmit. Horses somehow survived for eons without nomads scouting in front of them filling in gopher holes or hoofprints with a bucket of dirt and a shovel. I've got trail horses and they seem to be pretty darned savy.

And the mowing is fine. Never had a problem in all the years we've been mowing the pastures every month.

Thomas_1
Jun. 27, 2010, 12:16 PM
Cut it and leave it lying and they'll eat it.

It's not a problem unless it's short clipping and/or they're damp and they start to ferment.

So short lawn clippings are a NO. I'm in total agreement with the vet on that one.

If it's hot where you are though and it's just a long cut then it should quickly turn to hay - at least it would here in the weather we're having just now and then it will be absolutely fine.

As for filling in hoof prints and keeping pastures nice..... I wouldn't have a clue! It's a field isn't it. It's got horses in. It will get rutted and poached unless you've a shed load of money, time and staff to prat about doing something pretty useless and futile and over and over again.

I confess to running a roller over mine every March/April.

chai
Jun. 27, 2010, 04:08 PM
2 dogs, that is a hilarious image! We just mow with our JD riding mower without the bags on. It chops up everyting very fine and even grinds up the manure. It works well and we have not had a problem.

philosoraptor
Jun. 27, 2010, 05:18 PM
Mine don't bother with the bits and pieces of green the mower spits out. They prefer to graze the living plants.

I don't bother with the "hoof prints". The horses do just fine walking over them.

leslie645
Jun. 27, 2010, 07:58 PM
Apparently your vet has more book knowledge than real life experience.
CSSJR

:confused:

yeah...I doubt that since he works at Rood and Riddle . But I would be inclined to think that any vet would have more real life expeirence than you...I mean that is what they do, isnt it...
its not as if they are sitting in an office reading Gone with the Wind all day...the vets Ive seen are actually out there working.

I know for a fact that he's not the only vet to have dealt with horses that have ingested lawn clippings. You can even google it and see that yea...it can cause a problem with some animals.

Miss J
Jun. 28, 2010, 01:47 PM
Don't worry - my boys used to line up at the fenceline when I mowed the lawns so they could get the clippings as they spewed from the mower.
When I mowed the pastures they'd follow me - like a Vegas buffet :D



hehehe:lol: mine does that too!

I wil however will feed a bag of grass clipping to my horse...but I spread it over a lager area so it can dry rather than ferment.

VarsityHero4
Jun. 28, 2010, 08:32 PM
Another risk (I think the more likely one) is choke/impaction from eating such small shreds. I like to mow and drag at the same time right before a rain, the majority of the trimmings are gone by the time the field dries out and I use it again.

S1969
Jun. 28, 2010, 08:44 PM
I generally don't worry about mowing and sometimes mow with the horses in the pasture. I've never had a problem.

You can always fill a deep hole; I typically will just flip the divot back over and step on it if it's possible, but on occasion I have filled a deep hoof print with composted manure. Not a perfectly flat solution but it works well enough. I'm not really concerned about them stepping into the hole as I am about keeping as much of my pasture in decent grass growing condition as possible.

We overseed about once/year or every other year in the spring since we have been revitalizing overgrazed pasture. Usually we rough it up with a heavy rake, broadcast pasture mix by hand, and then roll it with a water filled roller. I only have 4 acres for 3 horses, so it's a useful way of taking annual inventory of the status of the pasture and improving it just a little every year.

Editing to add: not a stupid question at all! Pasture maintenance is really important!

cssutton
Jun. 29, 2010, 01:07 PM
leslie645

One thing I learned a long time ago:

All vets are not created equal.

Yeah, I know.

Google global warming.

Google .....Whatever.

But you must have enough common sense to sort out the BS from what works.

For instance, google laminitis.

Every single thing growing in your fields will cause laminitis.

So what to do? Have a nervous breakdown or just go on with life?

By the way, my daughter is a vet so I do know a little something about it.

I once had a vet in a very large animal practice tell me that I had a hound that I need to stop every so many hours and feed something to prevent Hypoglycemia.

Imagine; 30 hounds really smoking a fox through dense cover, over open fields wide open...AND IT IS TIME FOR A SUGAR STOP!!!!!

So much for all vets being created equal.

So be careful who you flame.

CSSJR

leslie645
Jun. 29, 2010, 01:32 PM
I dont use vets that dont have expeirence. Every EQUINE vet I know says that feeding lawn clippings from a lawn mower is taking a chance on lam/colic.

Its like this: You have a fat pony out in the pasture on lush grass +you are taking a chance on him foundering. Some people take that chance and keep fat pony out there muching away. Some dont.

MOST vets will tell you...keeping that fat pony out there eating is taking a chance.


Doesnt mean the vets are idiots and only have 'book smarts' cuz said fat pony doesnt founder. No it just means the owner lucked out.

Its the same correlation to the lawn clippings = you are certainly welcome to take that chance. Does it mean all horse will founder/colic from it...NOooo but it does happen enough that every equine vet I know will tell you not to do it.

As for flaming someone~ I simply posted TO THE OP what my vet told me. I believe you are the one who just HAD to post something Sh*tty to me, reqaurding my vet.

leslie.

cssutton
Jun. 29, 2010, 08:15 PM
I dont use vets that dont have expeirence. Every EQUINE vet I know says that feeding lawn clippings from a lawn mower is taking a chance on lam/colic.

Its like this: You have a fat pony out in the pasture on lush grass +you are taking a chance on him foundering. Some people take that chance and keep fat pony out there muching away. Some dont.

MOST vets will tell you...keeping that fat pony out there eating is taking a chance.


Doesnt mean the vets are idiots and only have 'book smarts' cuz said fat pony doesnt founder. No it just means the owner lucked out.

Its the same correlation to the lawn clippings = you are certainly welcome to take that chance. Does it mean all horse will founder/colic from it...NOooo but it does happen enough that every equine vet I know will tell you not to do it.

As for flaming someone~ I simply posted TO THE OP what my vet told me. I believe you are the one who just HAD to post something Sh*tty to me, reqaurding my vet.

leslie.


My goodness gracious sakes alive!

You are right.

Your vet is smarter than anyone I know.

So be sure that you rake all of the clippings up. Use a broom rake to be certain you don't miss one little grass stem.

And be sure you pick up all of the small rocks. 60 years ago, I knew of a horse that swallowed a golf ball and died of colic.

You just can't be too careful. Be sure you pick up all of those small stones.

And don't let them graze when there is dew on the grass. Baaad things can happen.

And clover. My goodness. Dig it all up. Don't use those bad old sprays. Another baaad thing.

And don't pay any attention to any advice you get here. Your vet knows best.

By the way, if your vet knows everything, why did you post?

Just to see your name in lights or to waste the time of those kind enough to try to help you?

CSSJR

leslie645
Jun. 29, 2010, 08:42 PM
By the way, if your vet knows everything, why did you post?

Just to see your name in lights or to waste the time of those kind enough to try to help you?

CSSJR


GOOD GAWD ...look out for the BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Try reading for comprehension...I didnt post the question and didnt ask for your help...DUH.

cssutton
Jun. 29, 2010, 10:29 PM
My mistake.

I apologize.

In my browser this thread is now on page two and I neglected to flip back to page 1 to check the OP.

Sorry about that.

CSSJR

dmalbone
Jun. 30, 2010, 11:08 AM
Thank you again for the help and input. We've not been able to mow because of the rain lately anyhow, but I appreciate the opinions.

dmalbone
Jun. 30, 2010, 11:09 AM
...and little pony and big guy have finally met and are doing ok together so I might just close the pasture off long enough to let the clippings dry out if I get the urge.