Pasture Management Essay

3742 words - 15 pages

EQUINE NUTRITION
Care & Maintenance of pasture & Grassland.

Tracey Cross

Introduction.
The pasture in which a horse or pony is kept can provide all of the nutrients required in a balanced form for horses (brown et al p190), however this is greatly depended of effective pasture management and the quality of the grassland. When looking at equine grazing and pasture there are many significant areas to consider. The research contained in this report is taken from one field on Bicton College campus, at the equestrian centre, the aim of the report was to evaluate and asses west park as an ideal pasture for equine grazing, and then a annual plan was devised considering the problem ...view middle of the document...

The sward height of the majority of westpark is very low, the ideal height for grass to be kept at is 7-8 cm (3in)(bishop 2003), areas of westpark are lower than this, limited grass can encourage horses to eat things from hedgerows ect that should not be eaten, there are also areas that are long and appear to have become “roughs” were as the shorter areas have become “lawns” (cuddeford 1996 pg 57) he also states that without management these rough areas become larger and thus lawns smaller giving the horses a much smaller area of grazing pasture, these roughs, are usually caused by horses not eating near their droppings “this concentration of natural fertilizer leads to vigorous plant growth” (cuddeford 1996 pg 57) however “westpark is grazed by sheep for about a week in early summer to tidy up any excess grass” (redmore 2010) therefore this should prevent the build up of roughs, over the year, also (Beaumont 2009) states that “Stock rotation is a good way to break the worm cycle in the field”, the eggs are consumed by the sheep thus creating effective parasite control.
As predicted West Park is primarily perennial ryegrass, 39.3 % of the assessed area was taken by perennial ryegrass. “Perennial Ryegrass is used extensively in agricultural grassland for medium to long term leys where it is highly productive” (Derek Lindsell 2010), Perennial Ryegrass is very commonly used in equine grazing, it is winter hardy and is very tolerant of intensive grazing (john frame 1992. Pg 11), a study by the British grass society (batholomew & chesnutt 1978) also shows that perennial ryegrass is very responsive to nitrogen fertilizers, which is useful for reseeding in small acreage areas, and also useful for sustainable effective management of horse pasture. However some research work (watts 2004) shows that Perennial ryegrass under stress produces higher levels of fructans, than other species, these sugars are closely linked with laminitis, therefore in situations such as cold weather and frosts, and periods were the grass is likely to contain higher levels of sugar such as autumn and spring grass, the grass growth and health of the horses should be particularly monitored, however this information “has been developed in humans and rats, and as yet has not been proven directly in the horse” ( bishop 2003 pg.121).
30% of the assessed area was taken by white clover, White clover is a forage legume, the importance of legumes in pasture management is becoming more and more detrimental, as they are nitrogen fixers, and they also have soil improving properties and excellent feeding value for animal production. (Frame 1992 pg.16), especially so in more recent times were agricultural policies are aimed at more environmentally, friendly alternatives, to nitrogen, and chemical based fertilizers. The Clover in West Park is a very high percentage and very randomly spread. “White clover grows best during cool-moist seasons in well drained soil” (Lewis 2005). West...

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