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Mow or Let Grow?

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  • Mow or Let Grow?

    I have 3 small pastures, maybe 1.5 acres fenced total, but my muzzled puffer pony and dentitionally challenged senior do not eat them down during the 2 week stints they are on them. My largest field, maybe 80x100, I had them out on during the day, senior total of 12 to 13 hrs, pony around 6 of those 12 hrs, and them in at night, for two weeks and it was not mowed down by them, still had good tall areas when I rotated them.

    So here is my issue, my riding mower can only be raised up to 4inches, I mowed it last sunday, poop is picked mostly every day, the little that was left dragged with my 4x4 harrow behind the mower until you could not see any of it, but I am worried it will not grow back well. I feel like it has not grown back much this week and now I am freaking out.

    I limed and fertilized it around 2 months or so ago, and sprayed it 3.5 weeks ago. Same with the 55x70 or so one they are on since last Monday thru next Sunday. Would I be better off rotating them but letting it be for the one they are on now?
    Or still mow it even tho I am taking a good portion of it down from 7 to 8 inches down to 4? There are timothy grass shoots that are knee high on me that they have not touched!

    Or should I let them just continue to eat the one they are on now for an extra week or so till they munch down everything they are going to and then mow it to the 4inches? I know the rule is "mow to grow" but I feel like in this case, I am taking more away by mowing. 🤔🤔

    The one they were on from late October thru May 1st, basically what I call my sacrifice pasture, is about 70x80, and I dragged the hell out of it and seeded it 2, maybe 3 weekends ago with a 40lb bag of lime and about 15lbs of fescue and orchard grass. Then mothers day weekend I spread my manure/compost pile all over that pasture and 3 days later dragged it in even more with the smooth side of my harrow, that one is not growing back as well as I want it to either.

    I know they probably killed the strong grass roots on that one even though it stayed mainly green all fall and winter. I would even put hay out and they would ignore it, I wasted more hay than I wanted to for sure.

    Starting this Sunday they will be out at night with stall access, pony from his lot and senior from 6pm till 12 noon on one of the 3 rotational fields, I just move step in posts and gate handles depening on the week for him. Pony will get grazing time still from 6am to 12 as long as it is not going to storm and lightning all morning. I figure a little rain and no stalls will be ok for 6 hrs if it is warm and raining normal rain. 12pm to 6pm they both will have their smaller lots, hay, and access to stalls. I am hoping to get fans soon for them too.

    So now I am trying to make them munch munch munch on the other two fields at least thru mid June for my third sacrifice one to grow in as much as it will. Late Sept/mid October when I get my bonus and the weather starts turning chilly I will be a better grass farmer and harrow, lime and over seed all 3, and then fertilize randomly thru the late fall and winter with compost/manure till next spring, but I will still have to use at least one of them during the winter months again so they have somewhere to graze a little and move around at least. They both will of course have their 50x50 drylots/little growing grass lots that connect to their stalls for when the weather is pure cold and wet to keep them from ruining the pasture in a week lol.

    Then in mid March to early April, depending on our weather and rainfall, I will spray all 3 and fertilize more.

    So saying all that and giving backround on my fields, basically should I mow with every rotation (every 2 weeks) if they are leaving a good amount of tall grass behind? Or wait it out thru one rotation/rest cycle and see how my one super tall area does during the resting time with no mowing? Or keep them on the pastures for maybe 3 weeks instead of 2?

    As of now I basically have the one super tall one, one that I need to grow in better period, and one that I just mowed that is good thick grass mainly, but now it is all just short and I am worried about it growing back ok...also how often do people with decent pastures mow throughout the spring and summer anyways??

  • #2
    Definitely mow. If you allow grass to grow too long eventually it will slow growth and start putting energy into forming seed heads instead of growing leaves. Mowing is actually better than grazing for maintaining good growth. 4 inches shouldn't be too low.

    What types of grasses do you have and how warm is it where you are? You might have an abundance of cool weather grasses that go dormant when the weather warms up. Grasses like tall fescue or festulolium tend to do better during the warm season than grasses like timothy or orchardgrass. You can try a warm season annual like teff grass or sudangrass, but have to be careful to manage those appropriately: https://extension.umn.edu/horse-past...annual-grasses

    Did your pasture have any winter injury/kill? What did you fertilize with?
    Happiness is the sweet smell of horses, leather, and hay.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by tbgurl View Post
      Definitely mow. If you allow grass to grow too long eventually it will slow growth and start putting energy into forming seed heads instead of growing leaves. Mowing is actually better than grazing for maintaining good growth. 4 inches shouldn't be too low.

      What types of grasses do you have and how warm is it where you are? You might have an abundance of cool weather grasses that go dormant when the weather warms up. Grasses like tall fescue or festulolium tend to do better during the warm season than grasses like timothy or orchardgrass. You can try a warm season annual like teff grass or sudangrass, but have to be careful to manage those appropriately: https://extension.umn.edu/horse-past...annual-grasses

      Did your pasture have any winter injury/kill? What did you fertilize with?
      I am in east TN. We have gone from 65 degrees in January to 9 degrees in late Feb. March thru just last weekend we still had some frost covered mornings. Besides that it has been wet, windy, rain to the tune of beating an 80yr old record, it was low 50s this week a couple days and it will be 84ish at least 2 days next week. I fertilized with triple 19 and it took off growing really well, I just was worried about the fact that I feel like I scalped it lol.

      I am hoping the fescue starts growing more in the one field but with the weather we have had who knows, it couldve died or flooded away into the creek next to it. I should have done all the fall prep but ignorance is bliss and all that stuff...we bought the place in May 2019, so I am still learning. I would love to grow Teff especially since my pony is a fata&& as it is hehe. I posted about it and basically everyone shot growing it for grazing down and said no way would it work. :/

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      • #4
        Mow. It’s probably slow growing because this spring has been so cool.
        "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

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        • #5
          Mow. Once grass has produced seed heads, it stops. And horses do not eat the tall stuff that has matured to seed stage, they eat anything under it.

          I have restricted grass intake on my two seniors due to Cushings and IR (muzzles for everyone!), so now my pastures, which are both under an acre, need to be mowed about every two weeks. My tractor is set at 5" and the grass regrows incredibly quickly. I lime and spray every spring and fall, graze year roundish and the grass has never failed to grow vigorously.
          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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          • #6
            I agree, mow.

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            • #7
              If the grass is tall with seed heads it is hard for the muzzled horse to eat it and the grass puts all its energy in the seed heads and the rest is nutritionally challenged. We mow ours when the seed heads are mature or have started to turn.

              My guys are on 4.5+ acres that they can in no way make a dent in. I also have my goat herd on there and a cow and the grass is so abundant it is crazy. So we mow it at least once .

              Comment


              • #8
                You may need to do a soil test to be sure you put down enough lime. To raise the ph of soil by 1 point, you will need to apply 1 ton of lime to one acre (2,000lbs).

                Also realize that fertilizer can cause your soil to be more acidic. So under applying lime and adding fertilizer can make your soil more acidic than it was before you did anything. Grasses/forage plants need a soil ph of 6-6.5. If it is below that range the plants can't use the nutrients that are in the soil.

                https://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/soil/ChangingpHinSoil.pdf

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by jawa View Post
                  You may need to do a soil test to be sure you put down enough lime. To raise the ph of soil by 1 point, you will need to apply 1 ton of lime to one acre (2,000lbs).

                  Also realize that fertilizer can cause your soil to be more acidic. So under applying lime and adding fertilizer can make your soil more acidic than it was before you did anything. Grasses/forage plants need a soil ph of 6-6.5. If it is below that range the plants can't use the nutrients that are in the soil.

                  https://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/soil/ChangingpHinSoil.pdf
                  Soil test is finally getting sent out this week!! Unfortunately a lime truck from a co op I do not think could get around my acreage with the powder stuff so pelleted lime is my only option for now. If I need 1000lbs to raise my ph I am in trouble unless I get a small tow behind spreader and even then it is going to be alot of driving around haha. Looks like I am mowing tomorrow!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by carman_liz View Post

                    Soil test is finally getting sent out this week!! Unfortunately a lime truck from a co op I do not think could get around my acreage with the powder stuff so pelleted lime is my only option for now. If I need 1000lbs to raise my ph I am in trouble unless I get a small tow behind spreader and even then it is going to be alot of driving around haha. Looks like I am mowing tomorrow!!
                    I bought 40 40 lb bags of the powdered lime. 1. It’s cheaper and 2. It changes the soil ph faster than pelleted.

                    I wore a mask, safety glasses, gloves, long sleeves, long pants and a ball cap. I placed the bags around the pasture in what I thought would be fairly even distraction. I grabbed an old supplement pail and shovel and dumped lime in the pail and spread that in a starburst pattern. I did that until I had almost the entire pasture done (about 1 1/2 acres). I needed another 2-3 bags, but that’s all they could safely put in my truck. I did this over 2 days. I thought my arm was going to fall off, but it’s finished. I’ll probably do
                    the pelleted lime in the fall.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by jawa View Post

                      I bought 40 40 lb bags of the powdered lime. 1. It’s cheaper and 2. It changes the soil ph faster than pelleted.

                      I wore a mask, safety glasses, gloves, long sleeves, long pants and a ball cap. I placed the bags around the pasture in what I thought would be fairly even distraction. I grabbed an old supplement pail and shovel and dumped lime in the pail and spread that in a starburst pattern. I did that until I had almost the entire pasture done (about 1 1/2 acres). I needed another 2-3 bags, but that’s all they could safely put in my truck. I did this over 2 days. I thought my arm was going to fall off, but it’s finished. I’ll probably do
                      the pelleted lime in the fall.
                      Thats a great idea, but all the co op and farm ppl I have talked to say the powdered stuff is slower to raise it but longer lasting. The pelleted changes it fast but it does not stick for long? I had the bright idea today to buy the powdered stuff and mix a scoop or two into my spreader everytime I spread my manure/compost to slowly help it at least somewhat over time.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I mow the pastures to reduce the eye problems. Ever since I started to mow anything over 12 inches high, I eliminated weepy or puffy eye in my horses.
                        Equus makus brokus but happy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          certainly mow....if its that healthy! I have a garden tractor mower as well, on my fenced 1.5 acres in Central/SE VA. cross fencing and smaller is your friend for rotation. as well as: plant a forage you can somewhat 'treat as a lawn'....since 4 inches is all you can raise the blades. I found not ONLY mow...but mow much more frequently than you want to, because you want to take minimal cuts...think 'getting a trim' vs. a full hair cut. mowing more often doesn't lay grass on it in the heat that is coming...and will strengthen roots. You can't have a hayfield if you have to maintain 4 inch height at best.
                          ayrabz
                          "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                          --Jimmy Buffett

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by ayrabz View Post
                            certainly mow....if its that healthy! I have a garden tractor mower as well, on my fenced 1.5 acres in Central/SE VA. cross fencing and smaller is your friend for rotation. as well as: plant a forage you can somewhat 'treat as a lawn'....since 4 inches is all you can raise the blades. I found not ONLY mow...but mow much more frequently than you want to, because you want to take minimal cuts...think 'getting a trim' vs. a full hair cut. mowing more often doesn't lay grass on it in the heat that is coming...and will strengthen roots. You can't have a hayfield if you have to maintain 4 inch height at best.
                            I know, I wish I could mow higher but it is just not an option right now :/. My hubs zero turn goes up to 5.5 I think but he will not let me use it out there. He is still in the "my ppprreecciioouuuss" think goblin from lord of the rings style lol.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Calvincrowe View Post
                              I have restricted grass intake on my two seniors due to Cushings and IR (muzzles for everyone!), so now my pastures, which are both under an acre, need to be mowed about every two weeks. My tractor is set at 5" and the grass regrows incredibly quickly. I lime and spray every spring and fall, graze year roundish and the grass has never failed to grow vigorously.
                              Isn't it ridiculous, we spend all this time cultivating lovely grass pastures just to end up with animals that can't have grass? My fatty is stuck in the dry lot so we're mowing every two weeks until it turns yellow.

                              Even on grazed pasture I would continue to mow, OP...it will help even out the spots that don't get eaten down and hopefully keep the weeds from taking over any over-grazed areas.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I thought of ya'll today - mowed my pasture again. Saw seed heads and weeds starting to come up. Mowed two weeks ago too - we've had lots of rain. We've soil tested and applied amendments for 8 years now and it's pretty rewarding to see all the numbers improve. It sure takes time and money. Oy.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post

                                  Isn't it ridiculous, we spend all this time cultivating lovely grass pastures just to end up with animals that can't have grass? My fatty is stuck in the dry lot so we're mowing every two weeks until it turns yellow.

                                  Even on grazed pasture I would continue to mow, OP...it will help even out the spots that don't get eaten down and hopefully keep the weeds from taking over any over-grazed areas.
                                  Thanks, I sprayed not too long ago so the weeds are not as bad, still have clover and some buttercups coming thru, I swear those things never die!!! I mowed it and dragged it yesterday.

                                  And yes it is silly, my senior loves being out so good for his joints and all, but pony can only actually be with him for around 6 hrs a day right now lol. Pony stands in his stall staring out sullenly and pouts, or picks around his lot looking mad at the world.

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