Winter Pasture

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by duchann, Oct 8, 2005.

  1. duchann

    duchann Full Member

    Oct 3, 2005
    Likes Received:
    I am new to the forum and am really enjoying it. I was wondering if you could help us with a question regarding winter pasture turnout. We bought a 5 acre farm this spring, 4 of which are grass pasture. The pasture is in good condition, however, I have heard pros and cons on leaving horses out on it during the winter. Is it harmful to the horses to be nibbling on semi-frost grass? Also is it harmful for the grass to have the horses on it all winter. We have 3 horses, who are stabled at night. They are turned out on the pasture from 7:00 AM and brought in at 6:00 PM. The pasture is not their only feed source, more for turnout. They get hay AM PM and grain in their stalls at night.Thanks for any input.
  2. Blistering Winds

    Blistering Winds Senior Member+

    Oct 15, 2003
    Likes Received:
    We graze as long as we can. Frost or not.

    We also plant winter wheat down here or a "winter grass" for the horses to eat through the winter.

    Though it is also best to supplement with hay through the winter as a precaution to be sure they are getting everything they need, and to save your pasture as long as possible, since most hroses eat more in the winter.
  3. freedom32

    freedom32 Senior Member

    Jun 25, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Nothing wrong with grazing in winter. I wish I could!! A good friend of mine keeps one pasture just for winter, just mows and doesn't really let the horses on it all summer.
  4. Super Step

    Super Step Senior Member

    Feb 8, 2004
    Likes Received:
    I graze my horses 24/7/365.

    When the cold hits, my Bermuda grass will become dormant. The brown part left through the winter is of no value because the netrtients have been sucked down into the root system. Some locals will try to graze this as though it were hay (same grass, why not?). But the difference is, hay is cut and cured with the nourishment still in the stem.
    That said...
    I drill winter pasture for the horses and cattle to graze during the winter. I plant both winter wheat and Ryegrass. The ryegrass does better than the wheat when it is real cold, but the horses like to eat the wheat better.
    I free choice hay but they do not eat much.
    Yes, you most definately can graze during the winter.
  5. Zoomarsgirl

    Zoomarsgirl Senior Member+

    Dec 22, 2004
    Likes Received:
    We leave the horse out during the winter. It's perfectly fine. Just make sure there's hay in the pasture as well as grass, because it can be hard for them to graze if the snow's too deep.
  6. rainrider

    rainrider Senior Member

    Feb 27, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Duchann, I'm also in BC and this is my experience. Firstly, if you're in the lower mainland/Fraser Valley area, being out all winter on grass will turn your fields to mush - not a pretty site or fun to have to deal with. You risk injury to your horse, as well as mud fever, etc. Also, it doesn't hurt them to be turned out all winter but it may affect how much grass you get in the spring.

    One thing to be aware of, if you're in the lower mainland - more horses founder in the fall here, than they do in the spring. The fallacy is that there is no nutrients in the grass at this time of year. For our weather, this is completely untrue. Grass dries in the summer and loses nutrients, followed by wet weather in the fall which brings that rich lush protein/sugar rich grass back.

    So the question of whether it's good for your horses - yes turn out is great for horses. But the pasture may be affected by overgrazing and the amount of rain we get that can turn it into one huge mucky mess. I have 5 pastures on 5 acres. I keep two pastures for the horses for the winter, where I accept that they are going to get muddy. The others are left to "rest" over the winter. Come spring, the horses get rotated into the other pastures and the two winter pastures get limed, fertilized and if necessary, re-seeded. This gives the horses pasture turn out at all times of year. (They get hay in the winter as well as turn out as there isn't any nutrition in the grass past November here).

    If they are on an acreage with no fencing or cross fencing, I would suggest finding an area you could section off for the winter in order to save your pasture for the spring/summer.

    If you're in another area of BC, the wetness isn't as severe and you probably wouldn't have the same issues with the pasture :).
  7. horse_luvr83

    horse_luvr83 Senior Member+

    Feb 10, 2005
    Likes Received:
    my horses have 24/7 pasture access, and have recently started buying hay for them

Share This Page