I wouldn't pay money for clover, since it volunteers vigorously on our property. I also have mares and am known to breed one now and then, so ideally I'd not use fescue although there is some of that out there as well. Ryegrass is like "horse candy" so I wouldn't want too much of THAT. Mix 1, probably, for me.
Thank you deltawave. That's the kind of feedback I wanted. The place that makes mix one will also make a mix to my own proportions, which is what I'm considering. I'd like to have a little legume for the nitrogen fixation. I was also avoiding the fescue because 1) possible to have a prego mare down the road and 2) there are so many choices, don't want to have to worry about it later. Any recommendations for a very easy keeper gelding and a 20+ y/o mare?
Ideally you would want your horses to obtain as much nutrition as possible from their forage. Limiting intake is not done by the type of grasses, but by management. Strip grazing, rotations, muzzles if necessary, turning out after grass sugars have dropped, etc.
Usually your best mixes have warm and cool season perennials as well as a legume to fix nitrogen. Legumes are also a protein source for the animal, as well as important to ensure soil health.
Clover is a legume, but it is not the only legume available in the healthy horse pasture. Deltawave, for example, evidently has lots of clover in her pastures so there is no need to plant more. If you have little to none, you probably want to plant some - or another legume.
Fescue can be grazed by most horse folks prefer not to plant it.
I'd prefer Mix 8 if I lived in the North. Although I think I'd like it better if the bluegrass was in it instead of festolium.
Your extension agent may be able to give you better info than I can.
Last edited by JSwan; Mar. 24, 2009 at 06:26 PM.
Reason: changed my mind
Get your soil in shape before planting. This includes soil testing, fertilizing in the QUANTITY needed for that field. Don't buy bagged fertilizers, you will purchase stuff you don't need, probably not have enough of the stuff your dirt does need. With the soil tests, go to the fertilizer plant, get exactly the proportions you need. Our plant rents small spreader wagons that work very well on my small acreage with my small tractor. I tell them SEVERAL times, NO UREA in my fertilizer mix. This prevents problems to the horses. We know several who have foundered after fertilizer with urea was put on the pastures, horses then got turned out.
Plan your fertilizer application to be done just before a nice rain if possible. You want a gentle rain to soak the dirt, break down the fertlizer, without washing it away. No rain means you might burn the plants on the field after application. I had some really bad stripes one year, when the rain passed by, got very dry that spring. EVERYBODY knew I had fertilized!! Plants came back after we finally got the rain, but I could not use the field for awhile with fertilizer sitting on it.
Prepare the soil by roughing it up if overseeding. You want the seed to get down on the soil, not be wasted. Any grass seed is EXPENSIVE, like gold dust! You want to get the best chance for seed to sprout and grow into plants, to get your money's worth. I drag with a chain harrow, with tires tied on for teeth to bite dirt, both before and after seeding. I have a good layer of organic material on my dirt from spreading manure, that is like mulch for the grass roots. Helps cover bare dirt, keeps the moisture in the soil with cover.
I practice active pasture management, to get maximum growth from my fields, for the horses to graze. This includes mowing often, pasture rotation, manure spreading. We have kept up to 9 adult horses going well on just grazing no hay, on our small acreage over the summer.
Not sure how much ground you have, or how much grazing you can allow just two horses, on that ground. Maybe not mowing often, letting grass get long and go to seed, will prevent leaves from being so rich in nutrition. Grass plants gone to seed, shut down and go dormant afterwards. Perks up and regrow some leaves in fall rains. This method may leave bare spots, since horses will regraze the tender new shoots often as they try to grow. Poop areas will be long and ignored for grazing.
Your dirt may have some influence on what grasses do best. I am lucky to have clay dirt, which holds the water well for our summer dry times. My grass has terrific long roots, the mulch layer cover between plants. So pasture can survive the 4-6 weeks of almost no rain, that is common in late July and August. Your dirt may be sandy, drain off quickly, so some grass types won't do as well as others. That mowing often, makes plants grow roots instead of leaf lengths. Rotation of fields prevents horses from eating the grass crowns down to dirt in dry times. My horses are only on the pasture at night in summer, barned during the day hours because flies are bad here. Limited grazing helps prevent excess wear on the fields that are under stress in summer heat, no rain.
I have a seed mix designed for the local area, 21% Alfalfa, 19% Timothy, 14% Orchardgrass, 23% mixed clovers, 11% perennial ryegrass, 4% annual ryegrass, according to the bag label. This was overseeded on existing pasture, of mixed grazing plants which included Bluegrasses. I know I used a mix of 50% orchardgrass, 25% timothy, 15% festulolium, 10% Bluegrass in the past. However at $90 for 50 pound bags, I needed something less expensive, which was the first mix. Funny how 50# just doesn't go that far!
Getting mixes set for YOUR AREA, rather than a brand name or bargin bag, is important. My mixes may not have seed suited to your area. I learned the hard way that Buffalograss is not going to grow here in Michigan, not enough sun intensity, lumens?, to give the light it needs. And it sounded like such a great grass!!
If you want growth, mow often and not shorter than 5 inches to protect the roots. New grass has the best sugars, so ponies, minis, donkeys, old or IR animals do not need those short grasses, new leaves. Don't mow their fields and limit their pasture turnout to prevent problems and foundering them.
Thanks so far. Very helpful info. I did contact my extension office, but I wanted some wise COTHer input too. Basically what is in the mixes is fine for my area. Do about 1/3 legume for nitrogen fixation and no more than 1/3 orchardgrass. I also did a soil test and my dirt has lots of clay in it. I already knew that, we just dug a well last summer. Luckily the land I'm using has been farmed for years and years, so it's in pretty good shape. They have a little over an acre of established pasture that I planted last year. I have 2 acres which I is what I am seeding now. This pasture is what they will leave their stalls and go to, their permanent pasture so I want to keep it nice. They will not be on either pasture until about July since fiance will soon be building the barn. I have the smaller pasture to put them into to let the pasture rest. I will also have a dry lot.
Most of the mixes I posted are from local seed places, so I would hope they are for my area. The others are Tractor Supply North Mix and Agway North mixes.
Anyone know where there is a fertilizer plant in NE OH or western PA, I'm right on the border.
Check your Yellow Pages under Fertilizer. Ask the local farmers where they get their fertilizers. They can't be buying bags, way too expensive.
You may want to split the 2 acre field, gives you more rotation options. Split it 2-3 ways. Split the one acre field too for more options. You only have the two horses. Electric works well for this. They will graze it more usefully, with smaller area choices. You just rotate more often, maybe every 3-4 days instead of every 7. Do what works for your setup. Our horses are barned daily, so less wear on the fields. They don't NEED 24 hours of food intake, would be HOG FAT, and they are not elderly.
Plan one place to have as a sacrifice, not ever going to have much grazing there, but if it gets muddy or torn up in bad weather, so what? We have the roomy barnyard, just away from the barn, easy to turn out in. Big enough they are not crowded, can get away from each other some. Horses can't touch the barn itself to damage it. Maybe then you can make your pasture gates open off barnyard, so you just open the gate or lane, going to the grazing area of the day. Horses wander out to graze when they feel like it. Less horse handling after they come out of the barn. Lets you put the water tank near the barn for filling, you only need one tank, up close for checking to fill. In spring or wet times, you close all the gates, keep horses in the barnyard to protect the fields.
Walk the fields at least weekly. What looks terrific from the driveway of the house, may actually have just a green color to the overgrazed dirt, tall, lush stuff is weeds or inedible. Overgrazed pasture takes longer to get back up to that needed, 5" or more height to protect the roots and dirt. If you are going for growth, mow the paddock right after you take the horses off it. Gives grass the longest time to recover, before they are rotated back into it. Leave the clippings lay after cutting. They dry quickly, add to the organic layer for mulching the plants, feed the soil. They say a summers worth of clippings, if long, add up to a free fertilizer treatment.
Forgot to say I would not buy TSC seed. They buy in quantity from dealers. May or may not be a local dealer. They haul their products to stores from a central depot, that might be in your area, or not.
I would buy from the local elevator, mixes more suited to the locale.
Reading the bag labels should help. They should give you an address of the grass seed seller. You could call and check where seed is grown.
North WHERE? This is one of those location specific questions. I'm in the north, in Montana. But the NE states might be different. I would call your local extension office. Let them know what type of terrain you have and what you'll be using it for, and they will advise. We used a mix of pubescent and intermediate wheatgrass with a small amt of rye mixed in. But we have creek bottom land and prevalent weeds so all of those things factor in to what type of seed you use.
Thanks everyone. Your advice has been very helpful. I am using electric fence and do intend to buy some extra t-posts and electric wire to partition off parts of fields as needed. Their stalls will open directly to the dry lot because my old mare absolutely must run once she is loose and the gelding must roll once he is out (dirt is much easier to clean than grass stains, oh why do I have two white appy butts). The dry lot will then open up to the 2 acre pasture which opens to the 1 acre pasture, so they will have 3 pastures that can be separated. I do intend to either put a muzzle on the gelding or just keep them in the dry lot at times too keep him from becoming a blimp (not at all hard to do). The mare is not a gorger, so as long as she can get to her stall (which she will be able to do) she'll graze some then go hang out in her stall.
Oh anyone else think timothy doesn't do so well in pasture? I was talking to my farrier yesterday and he said that the horses like the timothy but it seems to die out after a year since doesn't tolerate the abuse of the horses. I was trying to decide if it's worth my money to put it in there. Pretty sure I'm making my own mix, which right now will contain ryegrass, orchard, blue, alfalfa and probably a little trefoil. I also don't need to seed clover, it grows on it's own here but I wasn't concerned about paying for it in a mix with how small of a percentage of the mix is clover as long as the rest of the mix was good. Considering my setup and my intent to rotate pastures, muzzle, keep in dry lots at time, would you plant timothy?