I was looking at a potential boarding barn today, and it's an idyllic place for a pleasure horse and rider (which we are), with probably 60 acres of pasture, lots of trees, a stream meandering through the property, six horses, and about 5 cows. The thing is that the grass is all very, very short! Everywhere else in this part of the country, that much pasture would be knee-high with lush spring growth, this time of year. Are the 5 or 6 cows and the horses really keeping all this pasture that short? If the grass is that short, will my horse (who cribbed her top teeth to nubs even before I got her a few years ago) be able to get enough to eat? (She will also get grain 2x a day and hay at night, but, the idea was that she'd get to enjoy all this room to roam and forage).
It almost looks like the grass hasn't started growing, and again, most grass has been greened-up and growing for about month, in this area.
I'm sure there are a lot more knowledgeable people out there than me but I'll give it a shot since no one answered you yet. Cows use their tongues to help them eat grass while horses use their lips and incisors. That being said, its then harder for a cow physically to eat the shorter grass and they tend to go for the taller stuff where as a horse generally eats the shorter grass. Are there just cows in the field and no other horses? Because if that's the case then I'm not sure. That's just what I noticed from my personal experience of having my old pony live in a field with a cow for quite a few years.
And I wouldn't worry too much about her short teeth unless she starts dropping a lot of weight. A friend of mine owned a gelding who literally had about as much teeth as your describing (and was a chronic cribber... even with the "no cribbing" supplement being fed (I don't remember what it's called) and a cribbing collar and a no crib spray being used) and he ate grass fine. She actually had more trouble with him getting beat up in the field because he couldn't defend himself as well rather than eating!
Just my two cents. I'm sure someone else has a better answer for this!
Look along the fencelines. If the grass in the pasture is significantly shorter than the grass outside the fence, I'd guess (this is a guess, I"m not an Ag agent!) that the pasture was grazed down to nothing last summer or this past winter. The reason I guess this is because this is what happens at the place I board -- horses are on the pastures 365 days/year and they get eaten down over the winter (despite plentiful hay) and in spring they take longer to grow back compared to the grass outside the fence. I'd be surprised if that small number of animals on 60 acres could actually graze it down that far, though. Hmmm.
I don't like my horses grazing really short pastures.....actually had one colic due to sand ingestion from constantly grubbing on the short grass and the roots (this is where the highest concentration of sugars are).
I have 6 horses and only 3.5 acres so I remove them from the pastures in Sept and they don't go back out till May.....this way there is plenty of grass for everyone.
It might be the type of grass in the pasture, I have several different types, and the one that is either carpetgrass or centipede grass (I don't really know one from the other) is very low growing, it grows in runners, and never gets very tall (but it gets very thick), and the bahia will grow tall quickly.
There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams
Hi, we just moved to north florida, and we have patches of very short bladed grass that they call "centipede" grass. We are trying to find out how to get rid of it now because I don't think it's a very good pasture grass, and were told that it will eventually take over the whole pasture. It could be just that the cows are keeping it short, but that's really not a lot of animals on 60 acres, I don't think.
"Humans will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple,
or more direct than does Nature." ~Leonardo da Vinci
If there is 60 acres and only that many animals, there is something wrong. As one poster said, the area was likely overgrazed and has not and will not recover. I would not put my horse out on that for a variety of reasons, parasites, sand colic, etc.
"We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK
Productive pastures require rotational grazing, fertilizer and lime. Sounds like another low input, low output situation. If there is not adequate grass during the very best part of the growing season, don't count on there being enough to eat in the leaner times. In addition to previously stated concerns, I'd be worried about the toxic weeds that tend to take over in overgrazed pastures.