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Help with pasture.

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  • Help with pasture.

    Moving my horses to our new house in January (2 horses on 5 acres). I have been told this is a good time of year to seed, fertilize, etc. Any suggestions? The previous owners had been making hay off of this land prior to us buying it so it is thick, but does have some weeds I would like to get rid of. Is there any type of general weed -n- feed that can be put down. Seed - ?

    I am new at this, can you tell? Any suggestions would be great!
    COURAGE is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. ~John Wayne

    http://www.chronicleofmyhorse.com/pr...rivateDiamonds

  • #2
    You can talk with your agricultural extension office for good advice.

    What *I* would do is just fence the field and leave it. Next spring/summer I would mow it regularly. I've done that with my fields for five years now, and they look fantastic (much less weedy, I mean). If you mow before the weeds get too tall and/or go to seed the grass is what thrives and the weeds end up dying out.

    As for fertilization, I don't really understand why you would do that -- I'm not being snarky, I really don't understand. I believe beautiful manicured green grass is much more nutrient dense than most horses need. Not to say I want brown fields, but many horses get too fat on rich grass. (So, that's a question -- what type of horses are yours -- easy keepers, or hard?)

    What will you be doing about the poop? I harrow my fields, so the poop is broken up and disintegrates quickly. That is -- obviously -- fertilizing the field. And in my opinion, all the field needs.

    If you are concerned about the field getting eaten down too much, have a sacrifice paddock (something like 100 x 100) where you can put them for half the day and half the day out, to solve that problem.

    Have fun!
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    • #3
      SMF has good advice about weed control--mowing regularly to keep grass a uniform 6" in height and not allowing it or weeds to go to seed (thus stopping their growth) is the best and cheapest way to get good pasture.

      However, in many areas regular fertilizing and liming are necessary for grass to have any nutrient value and to control weed populations. Here in the PNW for example, the rain we have for 8 months a year leaches the soil of nutrients and causes the soil to become acid (or is alkaline? I can never remember which), but liming the fields rebalances the soil and promotes grass growth, instead of invasive weeds.

      I would ask my local extension office--they are the experts.
      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by SMF11 View Post
        What *I* would do is just fence the field and leave it. Next spring/summer I would mow it regularly. I've done that with my fields for five years now, and they look fantastic (much less weedy, I mean). If you mow before the weeds get too tall and/or go to seed the grass is what thrives and the weeds end up dying out.

        As for fertilization, I don't really understand why you would do that -- I'm not being snarky, I really don't understand. I believe beautiful manicured green grass is much more nutrient dense than most horses need. Not to say I want brown fields, but many horses get too fat on rich grass. (So, that's a question -- what type of horses are yours -- easy keepers, or hard?)
        I agree with this; until you know that your pasture *needs* fertilizer or lime, there isn't much sense in adding it. Not only will you not know how much to provide, but it might be the last thing you need. In our case, our horses are already getting too fat on the pasture without fertilizer. We do need to lime, but haven't; it won't necessarily make the grass grow richer but should help balance out the soil and will prevent certain types of weeds from flourishing (buttercups, for example). But mowing is the BEST thing you can do for a pasture.

        We have about 4 acres and it is more than enough for 3 horses in the summer with 12hrs on pasture and 12hr drylot. It is divided into 3 pieces and we rotate. I think if we put them on it 24/7 it would be overgrazed, but our horses are happy to stay in the barn/run-in during the day and avoid the sun & flies anyway.

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        • #5
          Ditto the suggestion of checking with your extension office. If the fields were previously used for hay, they may not need any lime/fertilizer right now as they were probably maintained fairly well for the hay production. That being said, it would be a good idea to go ahead and pull a soil sample so that you'll know for sure that the soil nutrient needs have been met.

          You should have plenty of pasture with 5 acres and only 2 horses but one of the best things you can do is to create a sacrifice paddock or dry lot so that you'll always have a place to put your horses when conditions in the pasture are not good for grazing (they've overgrazed the grass, drought, you're seeding the pastures, etc).

          As far as the fertilizer, keep in mind that just because your grass is already thick, the grass may still require fertilization. The plants will deplete the soil nutrients over several growing seasons. A *complete* fertilizer (not just fertilizing with nitrogen) provides phosphorus and potassium which play key roles in root development and disease resistance in grasses.
          "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

          Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks so much for all the really good suggestions, I am learning tons. I guess I need to set aside some land for a sacrifice paddock!

            I also plan on harrowing the fields to manage the poop and I suppose that does answer the fertilization question One concern I have is that there are some weeds within the pasture, they aren't spread throughout the field, they are more sporadic. How do I get rid of them?

            Again, thanks for all your help, it is very appreciated.
            COURAGE is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. ~John Wayne

            http://www.chronicleofmyhorse.com/pr...rivateDiamonds

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            • #7
              What kind of weeds are they? I battled the Evil Thistles for the first two years, by mowing and hand chopping down. And now, they are completely gone! I've also dealt with something called goose-something-or-other -- I was ready to go chemical on it, but once I looked it up I learned it was an annual, so killing it only opened up space for more seeds to come in, so weed killer couldn't really get rid of it. The repeated mowing has made it much better
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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by SMF11 View Post
                What kind of weeds are they? I battled the Evil Thistles for the first two years, by mowing and hand chopping down. And now, they are completely gone! I've also dealt with something called goose-something-or-other -- I was ready to go chemical on it, but once I looked it up I learned it was an annual, so killing it only opened up space for more seeds to come in, so weed killer couldn't really get rid of it. The repeated mowing has made it much better
                They are thick and thorny - not sure what they are called. Then there are a few that look like a large veggie ????? Maybe since we have had so much rain lately this would be a good time to go out and just pull them out if you think that would work. Should I overseed the pasture?
                COURAGE is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. ~John Wayne

                http://www.chronicleofmyhorse.com/pr...rivateDiamonds

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                • #9
                  What kind of grass is out there now? If it's a warm season grass (bermuda or something else) then you could overseed if you wanted - depending on when the best planting window is in your area it might be a little late. If it's cool season (fescue) there's really no need to overseed since it's getting ready to enter prime growing season.
                  "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

                  Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!

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