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How are you managing your pasture w drought?

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  • How are you managing your pasture w drought?

    How is everyone managing their pastures who are affected by drought? I had? I very nice 4 acre grass-clover field that normally keeps 4 horses fed very well late May-October. It's been brown and crunchy here in central Indiana for a while and the field is beginning to look bare in some spots. I'm sure others have the same situation so what's your plan going forward to make sure it comes back next year but still get what you can from it this season (if anything)?

  • #2
    I would guess your pastures are brown/yellow and dormant. I wouldn't count on getting much, if anything nutritive, out of them at this point. If you haven't started to feed hay, you probably should start.

    I'm in a slight to moderate drought, about 3" below normal rainfall, and my pastures are a mixture of yellow/brown and some green. Most of the green are weeds and I'm still out mowing the weeds down every other week now just to keep them from going to seed.

    I've been feeding more and more hay as the horses are coming back to the barn and eating more hay. Normally I'd put out about 1/2 a flake in both stalls for the 2 horses but by 10 AM the boys have pretty much scarfed that down so I just add another until about 2 PM and I let them finish what's there. Same at night. They have access to the either one or the other pasture 21/7. They are separated the remaining 3 hrs so each can have complete peace and quiet from the other.

    If your pastures are really getting down to bare ground, you probably should take the horses off completely until you do get some rain and they start to grow again or you may not have anything left for this yr and next.

    I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


    • #3
      I relocated to central Indy. I am feeding hay and using a sacrifice pasture. Then, god willing, when we get rain, I'll rotate when it dries a bit and re seed and rest my dust bowl.
      Come to the dark side, we have cookies


      • #4
        I have mine on my dry lot at the moment & have left my other pasture to go dormant. Yes I have to feed uber more hay for the time being, but when weather improves down the line, at least I'll have one field that hasn't been grazed down.


        • #5
          In NE IND the pastures are GONE, as in dormant. We bought hay since we won't get a 2nd cut and turned the horses out for a limited time each day on the hay field.

          I've never experienced this before and am wondering when it cools down (it has to, right?), will the cool weather grass that normally comes up in spring start growing again? And will we need to pull the horses off when that happens, just like in spring? I'm just hoping for some growth and grass seeding so we don't have to re-seed everything.


          • Original Poster

            Sounds like most are pulling them off the dormant pasture and feeding hay. I'm thinking I need to reduce the time out there. Normally they are out 12 hours, but we're down to about 4 hours on pasture plus 2-3 flakes in the evening. I'm thinking that might even be too much out there if I hope to have anything next year. I hate to have them cooped up in the 'winter paddock' for so long but it sounds like that's my safest option.


            • #7
              Last year we rotated the dry paddocks to half day only. This year we have had more rain and fertilized...the paddocks came back gangbusters.

              Better than ever but we are so glad we rotated half day only last year to save the roots of what survived. The horses can graze all day now, we just take them off for too much rain!

              I know it's hard but get the horses off the dry roots and feed them hay in an arena if you have to. It is well worth it when the rain comes back.


              • #8
                Mine are kind of crunchy, but not bare

                A bit scraggly, it doesn't seem to bother the weeds much, but my horse still looks quite umnn, well fed. I was hoping the lack of rain would trim a bit of the weight off.


                • #9
                  they are in the dry lot and eating hay. I am resting the one good field. It did finally rain a good bit the last 5-6 days, but I've been haying them for 3 weeks and will do so for another week.


                  • #10
                    I have no pasture. I have acreage that the horses live on, but I think when it is just a field of sunflowers and bastard cabbage, you cannot call it a pasture.

                    The pastures were trash when we moved here. First year we lived here my mom was sick and I was gone so much, I didn't have time to work on them. Then drought and more drought. I need to invest some serious money into some work on them, but I am not going to do that when it isn't raining...

                    So my guys eat hay.
                    Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                    Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com


                    • #11
                      With our extended heat/drought, the last rotated grass field I have is going to last about only a week and then they are back on the dry lots until we get significant rain for an extended period of time. Buying lots of hay, but at least we have that this year, which is a blessing. And, I'm grateful I have a place they can go out on so the grass (what's left) has a chance to recover.


                      • #12
                        I pulled mine off their big pasture on July 1st, and put them in a sacrifice paddock that had never been used, so had a decent amount of grass. Now it still has grass, but most of it's dry. So just more hay for them in the AM and PM.

                        We finally got rain a few days ago, and I'm starting to see sprouts of green on the large pasture, but I don't expect any major growth unless we start getting rain regularly again.
                        <3 Vinnie <3
                        Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BoysNightOut View Post
                          I pulled mine off their big pasture on July 1st, and put them in a sacrifice paddock that had never been used, so had a decent amount of grass. Now it still has grass, but most of it's dry. So just more hay for them in the AM and PM.

                          We finally got rain a few days ago, and I'm starting to see sprouts of green on the large pasture, but I don't expect any major growth unless we start getting rain regularly again.
                          I just dropped my guys off the larger pastures down from 24/7 to only about 9/7 hrs max till we get more green grass, not tan grass. I may pull them completely if I don't see any improvement. Most of the green at my place is weeds! I'd like to see about 3 days and nights of easy steady rain. The kind you want to put up an umbrella for protection.

                          I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                          • #14
                            I'm using a sacrifice paddock and feeding hay, my good grass field has been growing soooooooo slowly and the front paddock and big one aren't growing much. I am praying that the rain we had today (and yesterday) might mean a change in weather for the rest of the summer (hey, a girl can wish) it has been so hot and so dry.
                            for more Joy then you can handle


                            • #15
                              tan grass is a blessing. green grass is the enemy.


                              • #16
                                Same. Pulled them off and am feeding hay. Will continue until we get more rain and I see some growth. I rode the pasture today and was really shocked to see how bad it is. All that's standing is the huge weeds.


                                • #17
                                  What little rain my part of the state had gotten lately has gone by me. Just to the north or just to the south. No rain here.

                                  My horses are being let out on the pasture for about two hours in the evening to stretch their legs and graze on the crunchy brown bits.

                                  The rest of the time they are in the sacrifice area they use all winter, with hay. I am feeding almost as much hay as I do in the winter time. Sigh.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by LMH View Post
                                    tan grass is a blessing. green grass is the enemy.
                                    But tan grass won't grow....and above all else we need it to reproduce one way or another .


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by LMH View Post
                                      tan grass is a blessing. green grass is the enemy.
                                      Not if you have a really hard keeper like the 16.2 hand New Zealand TB that I have for a companion for my guy. He will eat hay but much prefers green grass.

                                      I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.