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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2004
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    3,173

    Default Spring Grass

    Can we have an educational thread about spring grass?

    Every year the grass comes back, and I religiously restrict the kids from going to town. They get out for 10-15 minutes a day for a week, then up it by another 5-10, until the "spring grass threat" has passed...

    BUT when does the spring grass really start? For example today, I let them out of the dry lot and into the field. The grass is till brown with hints of turning green here or there... so in my mind, it was still dormant...but I sat there with my watch, torturing myself with each second over 15 minutes. Mind you they were out there all winter, but since things are starting to perk up in the last week... I start panicking. So I psyched myself out and drug them all back in.

    SO the questions:

    When is the grass full, lush spring grass? Is it when it's growing in bright green, or is it dangerous when it's still in this half dormant stage? What are early warning signs that they are getting too much? I'm talking before you're calling the vet and screaming. What else besides limiting their access and building them up slowly can be done to prevent problems?

    That should get the ball going...
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2004
    Location
    Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
    Posts
    2,519

    Default

    It's about temperature. Figure that improved varieties of grass that is getting frozen every night has 25-30% NSC on a dry matter basis for everything that is green and live.
    When the temperature warm up above 40F, the NSC concentration goes down, although NSC per acre may go up.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 31, 2006
    Posts
    273

    Default

    Good idea for a thread. I also fret and worry about this grass. And I do exactly what you do. Just wanted to add that I was told to watch the manure. If it's getting runny, you could be heading for problems.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2007
    Location
    Northern NY
    Posts
    156

    Default

    I am no expert and have been fretting as well. I looked around last night and figured that they would need to eat all day and night to even get a pound of grass as its so short....so they still have access to all of the fields during the day. As it grows I will trim back on their hay, exercise more (hopefully) and either go to the muzzles or block off the big field. I start checking pulses and heet in hooves even before spring, and any sign of increased pulse, heat or "ouchy" I would take off grass ASAP and go slower when all looked better. I had a mare who had pulses even in the dead of winter when I bought her. This went away when we got her flare and white line issues under control. Also make sure the feet are trimmed frequently so there is no stretch of the hoof wall.

    A worrisome time for sure. I have all the breeds prone to laminitis....mini, Icie and paso



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 6, 2001
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    1,705

    Default

    I had this question several years ago when I moved my mare home. Many people answered my question telling me that it was sweet that I was so concerned but that I didn't need to be. That nature brings on the grass slowly in the spring and if horsie was out 24/7, they would gradually acclimate to the grass as it came on. I decided not to stress about it and let horsie out on her pasture with no negative effects. Indeed, she acclimated to it and was happy to be out there. I think, at least with horses who are not prone to foundering, the danger is going from dry lot to pasture full of lush grass and not being used to it.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2006
    Location
    Southern Finger Lakes of NY
    Posts
    1,736

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by snbess View Post
    I had this question several years ago when I moved my mare home. Many people answered my question telling me that it was sweet that I was so concerned but that I didn't need to be. That nature brings on the grass slowly in the spring and if horsie was out 24/7, they would gradually acclimate to the grass as it came on. I decided not to stress about it and let horsie out on her pasture with no negative effects. Indeed, she acclimated to it and was happy to be out there. I think, at least with horses who are not prone to foundering, the danger is going from dry lot to pasture full of lush grass and not being used to it.

    I'd second this. Ours air-fern Morgans (sugar sensitive) are out as much as possible, all year long, so they nibble the tiniest bits of grass as it comes on and gradually get more & more through the natural spring growth process.

    Come spring grass, we also move to feeding them their morning hay earlier in the a.m. in their stalls, so they have full tummies and a big lining of safe roughage in there to soak up whatever they're getting from the grass.
    Foxwin Farm
    Home of The Bay Boy Wonder
    and other fine Morgan Sporthorses



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 19, 2005
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    790

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bayou Roux View Post
    Come spring grass, we also move to feeding them their morning hay earlier in the a.m. in their stalls, so they have full tummies and a big lining of safe roughage in there to soak up whatever they're getting from the grass.

    This is what we do too. This year, however, is a little different and I've been stressing about it. We rented a really nice pasture as we just don't have enough at home for all the horses I have managed to collect. By the time we get good fence put up the grass is going to be pretty lush and there really isn't any convienient way to limit their time on it once we put them out there. Wondering if what they've been picking at on our pasture at home is enough to keep them from having problems. I'm thinking not...



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Location
    NE Ohio
    Posts
    475

    Default Glad I checked!!!

    I was just about to post this exact thread. I started thinking about this last night and was wondering. My horses moved home January 31. They have been out on my pastures every day since for a minimum of 6 hours. I was sort of thinking that since they've had the access all this time, the graduality of them getting the lush grass would be ok. But I was looking for other people's opinions. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks that way.

    Thanks for this thread!!!
    ******
    Shadow Dancer 2/17/91-12/23/10 - "My Horse, My Heart <3"



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2005
    Location
    Northeast
    Posts
    10,466

    Wink

    Horses here don't get "dry-lotted". they are in the same fields with rotation in the summer. So those little snippets of grass they are getting now, will get to be bigger snippets and then gradually a full diet. It takes 2-3 weeks before they ignore their hay.

    So gradual adjustment, no worry.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    386

    Default Spring grass

    OK, then what about a horse who Has foundered- he has been on a dry lot since Oct., when it happened,and now I want to have him out little by little with a muzzle on pasture. What schedule would you use? The horse has recovered so well, we are actually riding him already now, and feet are fine , has special pads in shoes.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2004
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    3,173

    Default

    Thanks for all the replies! Ours get out for 8-10 hours a day, and I always assumed they would adjust as things grow, but after so many years of being told they need restriction, I have been so nervous.

    There is harldy any growth at all yet, so they are going to stay out in the pastures, at least for now. They are so bored with the dry lot. They have to stay there during the winter whenever we have snow or ice, because the rest of the pasture is down a steep hill, and with the arthritis that these guys have...we can't have them sledding. But they have been out on the dormant pasture grass for over a month now.

    I will be getting a muzzle for the little pony though. No need to take any chances. He's like a vaccuum cleaner...
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec. 16, 2003
    Location
    Staunton, VA, USA
    Posts
    2,489

    Default It's gonna depend on a number of things

    EG where you are, and your average night temps.
    What kinds of grasses grow in your pastures, how heavily stocked.
    How sensitive your horses are.
    etc. etc.

    Watch the horses carefully they are very individual about their sensitivity to grass.
    Check digital pulses when they come in, if you find one react.

    But don't be in a panic needlessly, unless you think your horses are IR, as long as they are used to being out on the grass, then they will probably be fine.
    Don't of course over fertilize or put them onto fertilized pasture quickly when they are not used to it.

    Keep your pastures mowed and in good shape and keep your horses moving, exercise is the best way to stave off IR!

    hope this hlpes
    sorry to be so vague but as I don't know where you are I can't be more specific.
    MW
    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
    New edition of book is out:
    Horse Nutrition Handbook.

    www.knabstruppers4usa.com



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2004
    Location
    Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
    Posts
    2,519

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Melyni View Post
    Don't of course over fertilize or put them onto fertilized pasture quickly when they are not used to it.
    I know everyone says this, but can you provide a mechanism by which this works? Why do you consider freshly fertilized grass a bad thing?
    Katy



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    7,948

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by paintgirl View Post
    OK, then what about a horse who Has foundered- he has been on a dry lot since Oct., when it happened,and now I want to have him out little by little with a muzzle on pasture. What schedule would you use? The horse has recovered so well, we are actually riding him already now, and feet are fine , has special pads in shoes.
    Our vet had ours out on the very beginnings of the grass for about 6-7 hours a day for the first three weeks it was coming in. Then, the horse had to be in a muzzle (usually by April 15th) until the grass burned out in the summer. Then he could come out of it for a little while, but if he began walking gingerly the muzzle had to go right back on. Other wise, when the grass came back in the fall, the muzzle went back on and stayed on until we got a several hard freezes and a good cover of snow on the ground. If the grass never burned out over the summer, the muzzle never came off until the snows covered the ground, as above.



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