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Winter pasture question...

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  • Winter pasture question...

    Just wondering if someone knows where I could find a good article on the vitamins/minerals etc in winter pasture and in general the quality of winter forage? We are in the middle of winter here and my horses are still out on pasture since we have only a skiff of snow. Usually we have had a large dump of snow by now and I am feeding hay so this is the first year this has kind of came up. They are all fat and shiny (couldn't find a rib if you tried) even the pregnant and still nursing one. I am providing free choice minerals (and water) to them but just wondering if I should also start supplying hay? As I said they are in VERY good condition, but just wondering from the nutrients aspect of things if the minerals would be sufficient to uphold anything lacking and I can assume as long as their weight is good all is good?? Or not?
    I know lots of people leave their horses most of the winter and they all come out in the spring looking fine, so not asking "if" they can survive but if they are getting all they need or would winter pasture be severly lacking in something that even the minerals will not make up? I have 7 horses on 120 acres of alfalfa/timothy/brome hayfield. We only do one cut of hay so there is LOTS of growth going into winter and they really have not made much of a dent in it. Thoughts?
    Cindy's Warmbloods
    www.cindyswarmbloods.com Cindy's Warmbloods
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  • #2
    No real help, just that when grass freezes at night, the pathways stop and the sugar is suspended until the next day (laymen terms). So there is an increase of sugar. If I remember my biochem, it is not too significant unless it is approx more than a week of freeze.


    Personally, I would supplement w/ hay or a salt/mineral block. Plus monitor water intake. No real facts, but I would venture to guess that if biological functions in plants is suspended when they freeze, then thaw, and freeze etc, it is logical to conclude that they may not be producing enough vitamins/minerals needed for horses.

    Someone w/ more concrete info can chime in.
    Come to the dark side, we have cookies

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    • #3
      We do the same as you do Cindy. Hay the first crop in our alfalfa/grass fields, graze the second crop in winter, after the plants have gone to sleep. I just suppliment a trace mineral plus selinium block. Seems to work fine. The forage has less protien in it than fresh grass, but it's such good quality to start with that even so, it's still good feed. Pregnant mares, I usually bring into the barn a few months before they foal, and put them onto a balanced broodmare specific feed. Before then, regular mineral supplimented good quality winter grazing works fine.

      Mine are just about to come in off the fields, into the hay feeding area/barnyard. They have removed the available winter grazing, and fertilized the fields for us. Easier on the fields too, rather than taking the second crop of hay, as the plants have time to send the nutrients to the roots to over winter successfully before they are grazed. What the horses eat in winter is just the left over plant matter. With healthy alfalfa plants, we don't have to re-work and replant the fields like the neighbours do.
      www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

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      • #4
        You have to test *your* field to know what's in your grass Averages and generalities won't help your particular situation.

        Hay is more a concern when the grass gets eaten down too much. Graze it too low, and you'll kill many varieties.

        If you have enough grass to stay tall enough, potty areas are not taking over the grazable stuff, then you don't necessary need to feed hay.

        However, since at any moment you might have full snow cover and HAVE to feed hay, I'd be giving them some now so they aren't suddenly thrown on 100% hay
        ______________________________
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks everyone! There is still LOTS of graze out there so even if we did have snow the grass it was 1/2 way to their knees in the fall so unless it is a huge dump there would even still be graze. I don't think there is any chance of grazing it right down and to be honest I am not too worried about it since we are turning this field under next year. Right now there is literally nothing for snow, lots of bald areas and a skiff of snow over others.
          I have been planning on getting my fields tested just haven't yet. But I will for sure next year as they will be moved to a different 40 acre field that was just reseeded this year. So I will definitely get the new field checked as it is something I have been meaning to do.
          I would still love to find an article on what exactly happens to the grass in the winter as far as vitamins and minerals but can't seem to find anything definitive online :-(
          Cindy's Warmbloods
          www.cindyswarmbloods.com Cindy's Warmbloods
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          • #6
            Off topic - but want to say I am jealous of your having 120 acres for 7 horses to share!
            Sunny Days Hanoverians
            http://www.sunnydayshanoverians.com

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              LOL, thanks Sunny Days. Yeah, we actually have 160 acres total of which 120 is hayfield so we are spoiled ;-) More grass than they can ever eat, have our own hay and trade the rest of our share of hay to the neighbor (who does all our haying for us) in exchange for beef, so works perfect! It was a dream come true when we went from 5 acres to this and hopefully we never have to move again as it would be hard to go back to a smaller acreage ;-)
              Cindy's Warmbloods
              www.cindyswarmbloods.com Cindy's Warmbloods
              www.facebook.com/CindysWarmbloods Join Us on Facebook for latest updates!

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              • #8
                It's going to depend on what kind of grass you have out there too. Obviously, actively growing cool season grasses are going to have different levels of vitamins/minerals than "hay on a root", i.e. warm season grasses that have been stockpiled and allowed to die back as they go dormant for the winter. Beyond this, it's moreso the growing conditions (adequate moisture, sunshine, temps, adequate soil nutrients etc) that will most affect the nutritional content of the grass in the winter (just as it does in the summer) versus just the season itself.
                "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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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cindy's Warmbloods View Post
                  Thanks everyone! There is still LOTS of graze out there so even if we did have snow the grass it was 1/2 way to their knees in the fall so unless it is a huge dump there would even still be graze. I don't think there is any chance of grazing it right down and to be honest I am not too worried about it since we are turning this field under next year.
                  Ah, if you're not worried about how much of anything will come back, then as long as they are keeping weight, save your money They will like to eat the shorter grass, so while there still may be lots of knee-high grass, they may not find it palatable and either just not eat it, or eat it sparingly, and may lose weight after a while. But as long as the weight is good...

                  I would still love to find an article on what exactly happens to the grass in the winter as far as vitamins and minerals but can't seem to find anything definitive online :-(
                  Check www.safergrass.org - I think Katy has something up of that nature in the articles section
                  ______________________________
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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