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Will my beautiful green pastures founder my new ponies?

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  • Will my beautiful green pastures founder my new ponies?

    I'm getting back into horses after taking a break. A Farmer down the street wants to give me two 6 yr old Haflinger Ponies. They are geldings and have been living in a large swampy pasture with not much grass. He feeds them sweet feed 2x day and some old moldy looking hay. To me their weight looks pretty good and maybe a little fat. My farm has been horseless for the past 2 years and we have lush green grass (behaya/millet) and two 5 acre pastures. I'm nervous they will founder at my place and I have no place that has no grass. We do have stalls, but they have never been stalled. What is the best way to introduce them to my pastures? What should I feed them? Hay, No Hay? Grain?

  • #2
    Purchase grazing muzzles- keep them on 24/7. I doubt they need grain, and certainly not sweet feed. If I were you, I'd invest in some hot tape fencing and make a very small 'sacrifice' area for them. Maybe 36 x 36. They will eat the grass down in such a small area very quickly (even with muzzles on) and then once they've cleaned it up, you will have an area for them with little to no grass in it.

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    • #3
      Friends of ours have Haflinger, and they are both IR. I'd have them tested before I gave them too much grass. If they aren't IR, then proceed with the normal amount of caution. Fencing off a smaller area to start sounds like a good idea.
      ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::

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      • #4
        You can always test the grass, but "lush" and "green" don't necessarily mean "laden with sugar". Crappy looking grass and hay can be even worse--you can't tell by looking.

        Obviously you'd introduce them to it slowly, but all in all I'd say eliminating grain, gradually introducing them to grass, keeping up their activity and paying close attention are the right track to follow.
        Click here before you buy.

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        • #5
          It certainly depends on how much grass is "not much" in their present locale. If it is sufficient to get their gut used to grass, I would mow your pasture, as short as you can. Give the grass clippings a day or two to dry out, confine them to one field, and forget hay and grain. If you must give grain to carry vitamins, use something along the lines of Purina LS.

          If their present location has absolutely no grass, I would by hook or by crook limit them to an hour a day at first, progressing slowly. Haflingers seem to be easy keepers, not always a good thing.
          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
            . . . I would mow your pasture, as short as you can.
            Wouldn't mowing the grass short cause the sugar levels to go way up?

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            • #7
              That's what I was thinking, but I'm never sure how much is urban legend and how much is cold, hard fact when it comes to pasture.
              Click here before you buy.

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              • #8
                It may but quantity comes Into play also when dealing w/ things like this. If you mow a small area very short they will eat it down to nothing in a day or two even muzzled.

                Personally I would put them on a magnesium supplement prior to the grass, in this case maybe quiescence since it is pelleted and easy to feed. Haffies tend to be eating machines. They are also PONIES and the two I have personally cared for were both escape artists. I had to roach their manes so that electric fence could zap them. Woodwas for walking thru. Good luck!
                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                ---
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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                • #9
                  Ummm, rural legend?
                  "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                  ---
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                    That's what I was thinking, but I'm never sure how much is urban legend and how much is cold, hard fact when it comes to pasture.
                    Not knowing myself I went looking on http://safergrass.org to find out.

                    I STILL don't know because the information gets very complicated on factors like stage of growth, maturity of the stand, moisture, time of day, sunshine/overcast, nitrogen, grass species, etc. all seem to affect the sugar content.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tom Bloomer, CF, RJF View Post
                      I STILL don't know because the information gets very complicated on factors like stage of growth, maturity of the stand, moisture, time of day, sunshine/overcast, nitrogen, grass species, etc. all seem to affect the sugar content.
                      I started working on Management vs NSC in grass last year. Because we cannot always control all these factors, plant scientists repeat studies at least 2 years. Last year data was only significantly higher for the unfertilized, sparse, headed out over mature grass. The recently mowed, and mowed 2 weeks ago grass, the tall ungrazed, but topped, fertilized grass, and the regrowth from previous grazing were all about the same, lower than the headed grass, at this one moment in time. Will try and sample more often this year. The one thing I'm sure about over many different replicated fields studies is that letting grass head out increases NSC, both per mouthful and per acre.
                      If anyone knows a statistics person who can do multi factorial regressions and will work for free or cheap, please let me know. My stat program is not up to the task.
                      Katy
                      Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

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                      • #12
                        Kathy I might be able to get you some help with the math stuff through one of the GPF scientific/technical consultants. You ought to have my email contact.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Just electric tape off a portion of your pasture that they can eat down and have a dry lot type paddock.
                          Yes they will probably founder! Don't chance it! If you have a smaller area you can keep them in there for the day and then turn them out at night with muzzles.
                          Good luck! Otherwise just get a TB who you can leave out 24/7 on lush fields and they still won't be fat! lol

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                          • #14
                            Maybe I'm dense but please help with definitions. Is grass "headed out" when it has been allowed to grow the seed tops on top? What is "tall ungrazed, but topped"?

                            I had to take my horse off my pasture entirely a couple of weeks ago. Turning him out in the morning and bringing him in when I got home from work was too much, he had a digital pulse. Being gone 10 hours a day I can't turn him out for just a couple of hours, so he's in one of the sacrifice paddocks.

                            The vet said to keep him in the paddock until the grass gets seed heads in July then he can go back out, said that when the grass goes to seed it has lower NSC. I've heard this from other oldtimers too. Has this been shown to be wrong?

                            Hopefully I can get someone to bale it in July and then turn him out after that. That worked well last year.

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