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Safe Grazing to prevent laminitis

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  • Safe Grazing to prevent laminitis

    Can we talk about when everyone feels it is safe to turnout horses onto pasture?

    I have read the Safergrass.org site (Thanks for that Katy!) and have studied Pete Ramey's info.

    It gets a little unclear to me as to when grass is really safe to be grazed in the daytime, if ever? Drought conditions can cause the NSC to be raised? Winter or summer dormancy?

    From what I have read there seems to be no safe time! So I am on a 300 acre ranch and I keep my horses dry lotted and on free choice grass hay during daylight hours. My husband shakes his head at me feeding our horses expensive hay and keeping them off the abundant pastures.

    How can we assume that the pasture is finally safe for turnout without sending in forage tests every other week?

    What does everyone else do? What is your turnout schedule like and why?

    Thanks!
    "Right is right if nobody is right, and wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong."

    -Archbishop Fulton Sheen

  • #2
    I'd just get a muzzle and not worry about it so much, if I were you. Unless the horse is extremely sensitive, the muzzle will do the trick.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      My TB *can't stand* a grazing muzzle. He will hurt himself trying to get one off!
      "Right is right if nobody is right, and wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong."

      -Archbishop Fulton Sheen

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by sublimequine View Post
        I'd just get a muzzle and not worry about it so much, if I were you. Unless the horse is extremely sensitive, the muzzle will do the trick.
        And you'll get a lot of exercise searching for those muzzles on the 300-acre ranch.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by txladybug View Post
          My TB *can't stand* a grazing muzzle. He will hurt himself trying to get one off!
          Well that stinks! Sorry I can't be of more help then. Did you try both styles of muzzle, the halter attachment and the "deluxe"?
          Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

          Comment


          • #6
            I've known a few horses who are on pasture 24/7 and do fine.

            Pasture/grass does not always = laminitis.

            You can do pasture at night and dry lot/stall during the day. Or a few hours dry lot and some pasture.

            Comment


            • #7
              Introduce grazing gradually

              The important thing is to introduce grazing gradually ... start with 10 or 15 mins hand grazing several times a day, then gradually increase the time. Or make a temp paddock off the dry lot, where they can get some grass.

              I bought one of HorseGuard's trial fence kits and used fiberglass step-in posts to make a temp grazing area. This can easily be moved or enlarged.

              Also ... exercise often allows the horse to tolerate more grazing (think how exercise can stave off diabetes for some at-risk humans)

              Tarn in OK

              Comment


              • #8
                Do your horses have Cushings or metabolic issues or are there any signs/symptoms of such? If not I would just slowly build up their time out on grass and give no grain or supplementation at all. Maybe dry lot for part of the day to keep weight managed if it appears to become a problem.

                Another idea...put up some cross fencing so you can limit the availability of grass so they can't gorge. If you are able to use step-in rods and electric tape you can do temporary fence and move it around every so often so that your grass resources are better utilized.
                Altamont Sport Horses
                Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
                Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
                Birmingham, AL

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by ThoroughbredFancy View Post
                  I've known a few horses who are on pasture 24/7 and do fine.

                  Pasture/grass does not always = laminitis.

                  You can do pasture at night and dry lot/stall during the day. Or a few hours dry lot and some pasture.
                  My horses are currently dry lotted during the day and grazed at night. I have not had a full blown founder case here because I manage barefoot hoof care and diet carefully, I have rehabbed some horses.

                  I am talking about grazing management practices long term to prevent laminitis in any horse. I have only one IR pony (muzzled/dry lotted) but the TB gets a little "ouchy" = low grade laminitis on too much pasture. His metabolism seems normal. My 29 yo AQHA mare seems fine on pasture, but I watch her.

                  I guess I am wondering with what weather conditions or seasons can horses be safely left on pastures w/o concern of laminitis?
                  "Right is right if nobody is right, and wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong."

                  -Archbishop Fulton Sheen

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My horse goes out on grass for around 4 hours a day. Other than that he is in his stall or usually in a dry lot. The barn owner prefers to turn our horses out in early morning and into the evening, as during the day the flies bother the horses and the sugar levels are higher. Of course turning out your horse full time depends on the horse, how much they are consuming, and the richness of your grass. A barn I used to be at would leave the horses out all night on grass pastures and they did not have any problems. The key is to monitor your horse and watch any sudden weight gain, metabolic complications, or signs of soreness. Ditto gradually introducing your horse to grass. I personally don't think horses should be out on grass all day and that a schedule should created to monitor grass time versus dry lot/stall time.
                    www.justworldinternational.org

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, first of all, lots of horses are out 24/7 without an issue in the world. Some do have issues with it. My horses have always been out 24/7. ALWAYS, ever since I've had horses. And on fairly large pastures. It can become a problem to where I have to put them on smaller pastures, but they are still out, 24/7. Of 6, I have 3 that can get too fat on the pastures. So yeah, depends on the horse, breed, what kind of grass, how much, etc.

                      I think more than worrying about how much time they can spend on the pasture, you need to find out what's IN your pastures.

                      A pasture full of fescue is probably safer than a pasture full of alfalfa. I started a thread a couple of weeks ago about creating a low-fat pasture. I have issues with a couple of my horses that have too much pasture and WAY too much clover. So next weekend I'm fencing the pasture to a 1/3 of what it is now, spraying Forefront to kill the clover, and going to plant lower sugar grasses in the bare spots. They will be spending quite a bit of time in a fairly dry lot until I get the pasture cut down and in control (clover/weed wise).

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        We live in the TX hillcountry and our primary turnouts are on old fields that were allowed to revegetate with mostly native grasses. We have bluestem (including "king ranch" bluestem), side oats grama, blue grama, needlegrass. In a few areas invasive bermuda. I don't think any of it is considered "dangerous" like alfalfa or fescue. For years I have had horses barefoot on it 24/7. I am just trying to minimize the "ouchy" suspected low grade laminitis that pops up occasionally when they are out all the time. Weight is good, hoof form is correct, low nsc diet, etc. There has to be a common sense approach that allows daytime turnout at certain times of the year or during certain weather patterns???

                        We rotate pastures with Boer goats so the broadleaf weeds are minimal.
                        "Right is right if nobody is right, and wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong."

                        -Archbishop Fulton Sheen

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by txladybug View Post
                          We live in the TX hillcountry and our primary turnouts are on old fields that were allowed to revegetate with mostly native grasses. We have bluestem (including "king ranch" bluestem), side oats grama, blue grama, needlegrass. In a few areas invasive bermuda. I don't think any of it is considered "dangerous" like alfalfa or fescue. For years I have had horses barefoot on it 24/7. I am just trying to minimize the "ouchy" suspected low grade laminitis that pops up occasionally when they are out all the time. Weight is good, hoof form is correct, low nsc diet, etc. There has to be a common sense approach that allows daytime turnout at certain times of the year or during certain weather patterns???

                          We rotate pastures with Boer goats so the broadleaf weeds are minimal.
                          Your best bet is to just contact Katy at safergrass.org (and on here).

                          I know nothing about your native grasses, don't know the sugar content or anything like that, but she might. I'm pretty sure that the lowest sugar is between 3am -10am. Any other time during the day is when the sugar is the highest. I think that's across the board, all grasses, all areas.

                          If your horse only gets ouchy at certain times of the year, then keep him off during that time. Obviously something is growing that is affecting him. I have a mare that used to get ouchy every spring (foundered years ago, would get ouchy the years following...I didn't know any better at the time). So I kept her off the lush grass in the spring, kept her on a smaller lot, then returned her to grass in the summer (and on during fall and winter). No more ouchies.

                          Oh, and my horses that are out 24/7 are barefoot as well. Again, it's horse dependent, breed dependent, grass dependent, hoof dependent, etc. You basically need to go by trial and error unfortunately. We don't know your horses, don't know your pastures, etc. So, you should start by a small amount of grazing at a time. When the horses get ouchy, you've let them graze too long or get into the wrong grasses/weeds. Or just electrify small sections for them to graze. Maybe somebody else could be more help. But there's no magic answer, no magic time, no magic grass. You've just gotta figure out what's going to work with your herd.

                          Maybe put your horse that gets ouchy in the spring on either Remission or Quiessence and MSM. There's other routes you can go for preventative measures.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You could also look into the Paddock Paradise concept and create lanes/loops around the property to encourage lots of movement...
                            "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Paddock Paradise...

                              I agree. With 300 acres, you could have some fun with the PP idea. It really encourages movement and can limit grass.

                              if you get handy with step-in posts and electric tape - you can do alot to reconfigure your 300 acres.

                              Strip grazing is another way to go.

                              Sounds like you are practicing horse-keeping above and beyond what many do. Kudos to you for being so careful.

                              My neighbors horses got way too fat over winter on only 10 acres, so she has them off the fields and is waiting for our native grass (mostly oat - but rye as well) to lose nutritional value. We are in a desert-like enviroment...so the grass is all dead and dried out now.

                              She'll turn them out pretty soon on it....

                              In other parts of the country, it's a totally different ball of wax, as you get rain = grass. We only get minimal rain for a few months (winter) and that's it.

                              BTW, my Morgan mare gets "ouchy" in the spring which I suspect is low-grade sub-clinical laminitis. So I have to really watch her grass intake that time of year, too.
                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                              Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                              www.elainehickman.com
                              **Morgans Do It All**

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by BEARCAT View Post
                                You could also look into the Paddock Paradise concept and create lanes/loops around the property to encourage lots of movement...
                                I have never heard of that. Just went to google it and that sounds like a MARVELOUS idea!!!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Lots of good advice here already.

                                  Originally posted by txladybug View Post
                                  ... I manage barefoot hoof care ...

                                  ... the TB gets a little "ouchy" = low grade laminitis on too much pasture. His metabolism seems normal.
                                  Originally posted by jaimebaker View Post
                                  ... Oh, and my horses that are out 24/7 are barefoot as well. Again, it's horse dependent, breed dependent, grass dependent, hoof dependent, etc. ...


                                  txladybug, are you sure your TB is "ouchy" b/c of low grade laminitis? A TB in good weight on a low NSC diet is not typically an 'at risk' horse. Your TB may just have thin soles or some other condition where he/she can't handle being barefoot as well as other horses/breeds. Just something to think about.

                                  Sounds to me that your pastures are some of the safest around. Native grasses & warm season grasses (such as bermuda) are safer (lower in NSC) than your cool season grasses.

                                  I'm not sure you have a whole lot to worry about.

                                  Comment

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