Revised:  09/14/2012

Ask the Expert -- Farm and Pasture Management

 

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Farm and Pasture Management

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How many acres will provide a horse with all its nutrients?

 

How many acres must a pasture be to provide enough grass to feed one horse for the entire summer, or until the grass loses its nutritional content?

 

 

Typically, we recommend 1 to 2 acres of well-established pasture per horse if you feed only pasture during the growing season. However, it really depends on your soil type, weather, pasture grasses and individual horses’ requirements. The nutritional value of pasture grasses can vary significantly during the growing season. If you manage the pasture with fertilization, mowing, and rotating you could probably get away with less. Water and a salt block should always be freely available to your horse. Contact your Cooperative Extension office at your state’s land grant university for state-specific information.

 

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 

 


 

Will putting pennies in my horse's water trough keep algae from growing?

 

I thought if I put four-five pennies in my horse’s water barrel, which is 40 gallons cut in half, that algae build up would be prevented. I change the water and clean the barrel weekly. Water trickles into the barrel all the time, but algae still builds up. The running water keeps the flies and mosquitoes away and the penny keeps the water clear and clean of algae. My question is: will the penny, by putting a very small amount of copper in the water, affect the horse?

 

 

It is important to note that pennies made after 1982 are 97.5% zinc and only coated with a thin layer of copper. There has been limited research showing that if copper pennies or piping is put into galvanized metal water tanks some of the copper and zinc from the tank will leach out into the water. Similar research has not, to our knowledge, been done with plastic tanks. Copper sulfate (bluestone) is commonly recommended to treat irrigation ponds and swimming pools for algae. High intakes of copper, especially, can increase the need for other minerals, such as selenium. Small ruminants, such as sheep and goats, are very sensitive to copper excess.

 

A North Dakota State University publication “Livestock and Water” (AS-954, July 1999) by Greg Lardy, Beef Cattle Specialist and Charles Stoltenow, Extension Veterinarian advises, “In troughs or small tanks, a safe dosage is one level teaspoon of copper sulfate per 1,500 gallons of water.” So for a 40-gal tank, even an eighth of a teaspoon of copper sulfate would not be appropriate.

 

Be aware, though, as you alter your trough management, that copper can be toxic to horses if overfed. Horse water should contain less than 0.5 mg/liter copper.

 

Another important point is that algae needs sunlight to grow, so if you can relocate your trough to a shady area, you should have less trouble with algae.

 

 

Answer provided by Laura Gladney, Program Associate, Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension and Sarah Ralston, VMD, PhD, DACVN, Department of Animal Sciences.

 

 


 

Can clover in pasture cause laminitis in horses?

 

Can clover in a pasture cause a horse to founder or get laminitis? If so, what is the best way to manage this as far as letting the horses out to graze, i.e. keeping them off grass at night, etc.?

 

 

Large amounts of legumes (clover and alfalfa) in pasture are thought to contribute to laminitis because they are typically higher in energy than most other grasses. They also can accumulate more starch which is one of the culprits in causing laminitis in some horses. However, grasses themselves can also be a problem, as they accumulate sugars and starches during the day and use them for growth overnight. Therefore, sugar content is lowest in the early morning unless there has been an overnight freeze (the sugars do not get used up by the grass overnight so they are still high in the morning). The sugar content is also highest in the spring and fall. Sugar content is important because a high-sugar or starch meal causes an increase in the hormone insulin, which can cause problems in horses with metabolic disease (such as insulin resistance or Cushing’s). You will need to take all of these factors into consideration when grazing your horses. If you have a horse that is prone to metabolic disease, the best time to graze it would be the early morning hours before the grasses have a chance to accumulate sugars, unless there has been a freeze overnight. When introducing horses to lush spring pasture, do it gradually until they are up to their normal turnout time. You can also use a grazing muzzle to limit intake.

 

You should evaluate each horse individually. Easy keepers like chubby ponies are often more prone to metabolic disease, which can lead to laminitis. Also monitor your horses’ weight and body condition regularly so that you will know if something is wrong- look for cresty necks or unusual fat deposits. Some horses may never be affected by high sugars or starches in grass, i.e. most Thoroughbreds, therefore grazing on clover is not a problem.

 

You will also need to evaluate your pasture. Clover generally takes over when grasses are overgrazed, so lots of clover could mean you need to over seed and take better care of your grasses through liming and fertilization based on soil tests.

 

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., and Laura Gladney, Program Associate, Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension.

 


 

How big should my drylot be?

 

I need to establish a drylot for a very easy keeper who has foundered in the past. It is possible that my other two horses will occasionally need to share the drylot short term, possibly overnight. Can you recommend what square footage it should be?

 

 

 

It is appropriate to have a minimum of 400 square feet for each adult horse being housed in a dry lot.

 

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 


 

Does Rutgers recommend that drylots be a certain distance from property lines?
 

Rutgers' Agricultural Management Practices for Commercial Equine Operations state that barns and sheds should be set back at least 50 feet from property lines. What does Rutgers recommend the distance from property lines should be for horse drylots or pastures?

 

 

The Agricultural Management Practices for Commercial Equine Operations state that "fences should be located such that horses are unable to cause damage to neighboring properties. Although it is an acceptable practice to construct fencing on a property line, consideration should be given to setting new fencing back from the property line. Setting back the fencing can serve several purposes. It may prevent horses from causing damage to trees and shrubs on neighboring properties, facilitate mowing and fence repair, and prevent neighbors from having access to the horses without trespassing on the farm owner's property."

 

In the past, fencing was frequently constructed on property lines to form a boundary between adjacent farms and to maximize pasture use. Today, situations have changed, and with increasing pressure placed on livestock operations in residential areas, common sense dictates that consideration should be given to setting new fencing back from property lines. Recommended fencing setbacks are the same for drylots and pastures, however, management strategies recommended for drylots are more stringent than those suggested for pastures. By definition, pastures must be maintained in order to contain at least 70% vegetative cover. If the vegetation falls below 70%, then the pasture is treated as a drylot.

 

As stated in the AMP: "Drylots should be well-drained so that the animals are not standing in mud. Drylots are frequently constructed with a stone base and covered with natural clay or crushed stone. Measures may need to be in place to control erosion of stone, soil, and manure into areas that will impact water quality. These measures may include diversions, filters, and buffer areas." Grass buffer strips around drylots can remove nutrients and help prevent runoff of manure and soil onto adjacent properties.

 

"Manure should be removed from drylots on a regular basis. If the overall farm density is fewer than 3 horses per drylot acre and the drylot vegetation is maintained between 50% and 70%, then manure should be removed from deposition areas at least once a month. If the overall farm density is 3 or more horses per drylot acre, manure should be removed from deposition areas on a weekly basis."

 

The Natural Resource Conservation Service can supply you with technical assistance in erosion control and drylot construction. If you need further assistance with nutrient and pasture management issues, contact your local Cooperative Extension office.

 

Answer provided by Donna Foulk, former Senior Agriculture Program Coordinator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 


Will my horses eat grass where manure has been previously spread?

 

 

We have recently purchased a home with two small pastures for our three horses. We are trying to get them to graze as much as possible. The problem is the previous owners used part of the pastures for manure dumping. The previous manure dumping areas are approximately 6-8” higher than the rest of the pasture, and the vegetation growth is wonderful. I have read that horses will not graze on these areas. What is best to remedy this situation? We would appreciate any help you can offer on this matter.

 

 

 

Depending on how long ago the manure was dumped there, it might not be an issue any more. Horses usually will not graze in areas where there is fresh or recently deposited manure. That is why in some fields you will notice areas of tall green grass (“roughs”) whereas other areas have been overgrazed (“lawns”). However, if it has been over a year since new manure was applied to the piles or if it was dragged through the field, it probably will not be a problem, though if it was not properly composted, parasite eggs such as ascarids may have persisted. I would advise taking a soil test to determine if fertilizer is necessary to give the grasses maximal growth potential. You can locate your local cooperative extension office by selecting your state on the Cooperative Extension System Offices’ national map. An extension specialist in your local office should be able to help you find a nearby soil testing lab. Also submit samples of your horse’s feces to your veterinarian to get them checked for parasite eggs about one month after you put them on the affected field.

 

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 


What voltage should an electric fence be?

 

 

When testing an electric fence for horses, what should the minimum voltage be to ground along the fence? How much difference do individual things about horses affect it, such as long hair in the winter?

 

 

 

The charge an electric fence has depends on the charger and the total fence length. Our fences are typically around 6,000 Volts. If a significant amount of weeds are present, the charge will noticeably decrease (4,000 Volts). Usually if the charge decreases, there is a short in the line (it will decrease 1,000 to 2,000 Volts). What makes the fence work is that the charge is pulsatile, using very low amperage (<10 milliamps). A horse will receive less of a shock if the soil is really dry. Ground rods (negative charge) are located near the charger. Without moisture in the ground, the circuit is not completed. To know how powerful the charger is, disconnect the fence and test directly at the charger (+) to the ground (-) rod. When the fence is reconnected, the charge should not be very different (chargers are rated by how many miles of fence they can run). Anything less than 3,500 volts would be considered ineffective.

 

 

This answer was written by Clint Burgher, MS, Rutgers University, Equine Science Center.

 

 

My electric fence has stopped cycling; what might be the reason?

 

 

I have rigged an electric fence using an old (circa 1960) charger/energizer, which has recently stopped cycling but remains energized. It is a simple device with what appears to be a capacitor and a couple of fuses. If any of these are defective, might that be causing the lack of cycling, or is this evidence of something worse?

 

 

 

It is recommended to turn it off immediately. If this device really is a charger/energizer made for an electric fence, it will pulsate the current which allows someone to let go when there is no charge. Without the pulsating charge, it will end up electrocuting things or someone could get "stuck" to the electric source. The problem is unlikely to be the capacitor or a fuse. The capacitor is what increases the voltage - electric fences can be up to 12,000 volts from a 110 volt outlet. If the fuses are blown, there would not be electricity coming out. If it is truly a charger/energizer, then the energizer has gone bad and all there is now is an A/C charger. With the continuous charge, a fire could start if weeds come into contact with the wire.

 


 

Can I stop erosion with old bales of hay?

 

 

I have eroded areas on a slight slope, and I have extra hay from last year. Can I fill in the eroded areas with the hay?

 

 

 

Using hay will provide a cover on the soil which will help slow the erosion. When we work on soil erosion problems we use what is called the universal soil loss equation; part of the equation considers the cover on the soil. Putting hay on these areas will serve as a cover. This may slow down the rate of erosion, but might not cure it.

I would suggest contacting your local soil conservation district or USDA NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) office. They are usually listed in the phone book with the government agencies. They can help you solve the erosion problem beyond just using a temporary measure.

 

 

Answer provided by Bill Bamka, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Burlington County Associate Professor/County Agriculture Agent, Field and Forage Crops.

 


 

What kind of wood and wire can I use for horse fencing?

 

I was wondering if pressure treated wood is safe to use for horse fencing. I have a Percheron gelding and a Haflinger mare on an acre lot, and sometimes the mare will chew on wood that doesn't have a wire on it. She does not crib, but I am worried about the chemicals in the treated wood. Also, any thoughts on where to run the electric wire? I was thinking maybe on the top and in between the middle and bottom boards, and maybe below the bottom board. The mare tries to put her head through the middle and bottom section and also scoot her head underneath the bottom rail.

 

Pressure treated wood is okay to use, and using an electric wire will help deter them from chewing and cribbing. The treatment is so the posts will last longer - unless you use locust wood, which is longer lasting than treated wood. As for the top rail you can use rough-cut oak, which works well but is more expensive and is getting harder to obtain than treated wood.

 

The electric wire should definitely go on the top rail to prevent chewing and cribbing, however, if your horse likes to eat through the fence one more strand between the middle and bottom board will help, hopefully preventing them from going completely under the fence as well. Just be careful that your horses don’t get their legs caught up in the bottom wire. The best option is to use a 4-board fence approach. See pictures below for recommended options.

 

Wire Fence with Boards         Wood Board Fence

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 


 

I need a ground cover for an eroded area. Is there anything my horse won’t eat?
 

I have a hill in my horse area that is eroding away because the horses ate the plants that grew there. Is there a plant or ground cover that a horse will not eat, but if eaten, is not toxic? I want to plant a ground cover that they will leave alone, but will not hurt them if eaten.

 

 

This is a very interesting question. I often wished that we had a ground cover that horses simply would not eat. Unfortunately, if a plant is edible, horses will usually browse on it. Once horses have removed vegetation from a hillside, it can be difficult to obtain a good stand of vegetation due to the resulting soil erosion. It is best to prevent horses from continuously grazing steep slopes by fencing off the area. If the horses need to use the hill to get to grazing areas at the top, you will need to provide an access lane.

 

To reclaim the area, I would seed it with a grass mixture. Perennial ryegrass mixed with a small amount of white clover will germinate faster than other perennial grasses – in two weeks if conditions are right. You could also include several other grass species such as endophtye-free tall fescue, orchardgrass, and bluegrass. Birdsfoot trefoil can be added to the mix as well. It is a legume that establishes quite quickly and tolerates low pH soils. Horses will browse on it, but it is not a preferred forage.

 

If the hill is really steep and the soil badly eroded, you may want to include a small amount of annual ryegrass. This will germinate in several days and may help prevent the perennial grass seeds from washing off of the slope until they have time to germinate. If the hill is not too steep and rocky, it is best to seed the area with a no-till drill to place the seed in the ground. Another option would be to spread the seed and cover it with a fine layer of straw to help hold it if the area is not too large.

 

Once the grasses are established - which may take a year - then you can graze the area sparingly.

 

Answer provided by Donna Foulk, former Senior Agriculture Program Coordinator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 


 

How long can one store hay?
 

 

How long can one store hay?

 

 

 

If the hay is good quality (not moldy or moist) and stored off the ground (on a pallet or tarp) under adequate shelter you can keep it over 2 years. However, the fat-soluble vitamins A and E will be drastically reduced after a year, especially if sections of the hay are exposed to sunlight. This is easily corrected by feeding it with a standard multiple vitamin supplement. If you are additionally feeding 4 to 5 lbs of a commercial grain/pellet mix per day you should be fine, for these mixes are usually fortified with more than enough vitamins and minerals.

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 


 

What is the proper method to mowing pastures?
 

We are getting ready to mow my mare's pastures for the first time this year. How long do you recommend keeping a horse off the pasture after it has been mowed (because of the cut grass)? My mare has access to two pastures - so we can mow one at a time and keep her in the other one. Everything I've read said that you shouldn't mow the grass below 4-5 inches, and that you should only mow it a few times a season. Is that correct?

 

 

This is partially correct. Mowing with the horse in the field is not a problem. Eating the cut grass will not cause problems; if you think about it that is how they make hay- the grass will dry in the sun. However, if it is overly long and is thrown into “windrows” by your mower, the clumped hay might ferment if it is hot and humid. In that case, rake the clumps to disperse them. Since you do have pastures to rotate, you might want to start doing that. Put the mare into pasture one, let her graze it down, then move her over to pasture two while you are dragging to spread the manure (if you have not picked it up regularly). Then let pasture one recover until pasture two is ready to be rested.

The standard height (on the “take half, leave half” rule) for mowing is about 3-4 inches, depending on the type of grass you have (bluegrass can be about 3 inches; orchard/timothy, etc should be 4 inches). Then you let it recover to about 6-8 inches and graze it back down to the 3-4 inch height. Since you have only one horse on what sounds like an acre or so, you might be mowing not just to keep the grass at the same height, but also to keep it from getting too tall and going to seed. Remember, the shorter you mow (or graze), the more of the grasses’ growing points will be removed and the longer it will take the grass to recover. If more than 80% of the grass is grazed or mowed, almost all of the growing points will be removed, which will lengthen growing time. Please look at the Equine Science Center’s fact sheets on-line for more information. They can be found at http://www.esc.rutgers.edu/publications/pasture_management.htm

 

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 

 


 

Do you have any mud management tips?
 

I have three horses that live on my property in a one-acre paddock that has a run-in shelter. During the winter and early spring months I battle the mud in their paddock and always lose. Do you have any mud-management tips that you can pass along?

 

 

Mud is a problem that plagues us all. Even the most strictly managed equine facility can harbor mud under certain conditions. Mud not only creates an unpleasant and annoying environment for us but can be a health hazard for our horses as well. Problems like thrush, abscesses and fungal infections are caused by muddy conditions. Mud also increases breeding of flies and mosquitoes that could transmit disease, creates unsafe footing that can lead to unwarranted lameness, and creates polluted water runoff from pastures. Prevention is the best cure for mud; however, since we can’t control the weather we need to control the amount of rain that flows through our paddocks and pastures. Below are some tips to help control mud.

 

Good pasture management is always a good place to start controlling mud. Keep bare spots to a minimum by avoiding overgrazing, controlling weeds, overseeding if necessary, and limiting turnout time when conditions are poor.

 

Installing gutters on all barns and buildings will divert the storm water away from manure-filled pastures and paddocks. Make sure these gutters are capable of handling the average rainfall in your area. When using gutters and downspouts make sure they are protected from animal wear and tear.

 

Installing a ‘sacrifice lot’ is a good way to prevent the horses from using a pasture when the conditions are too wet. This area is a fenced dry lot with shelter, water, and feeders, so the horses can be turned out and fed hay, but not allowed access to the pasture. In order to help prevent pollution of runoff through the sacrifice lot, manure and old hay should be picked from the area every 1 to 3 days. This will remove the organic matter that is used to convert soil to mud. Maintain a grass area of about 25 feet around the sacrifice lot to serve as a filter for any runoff.

 

Horses should be fenced out of streams, ponds, creeks, and other wetlands. Providing stream crossings will help limit the amount of erosion they will create. Key horse areas around the farm should have mud or dirt removed and replaced by a firm material, e.g. concrete, gravel, crushed stone, etc. Most important areas will include areas around gates, waterers, feeders, barn entrances, sheds and shelters.

 

When creating new paddocks or pastures try to locate them 100 feet from any stream, river or other wetland. Try to locate higher ground for your dry lots and have them sloped away from run-in sheds or barns.

 

Summary of Mud Management Tips:

  • Avoid overgrazing of pastures
  • Practice good pasture management
  • Install gutters and downspouts on buildings
  • Install dry wells around buildings to filter water away from paddocks
  • Create a ‘sacrifice lot’ to limit the pasture turn out time
  • Fence off ponds, and other wetlands
  • Create stream or river crossings
  • Install an impervious surface around heavy traffic areas
  • Install a laneway that can withstand heavy traffic of both animal and machine

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 

 


 

How do I get my new pasture to grow without any bare spots?
 

I want to reseed my pasture in the spring. I know this isn't the best time but I need to try to fill in the holes so the weeds don’t take over again. I need a drought-resistant mix of seed to insure that the pasture can withstand the beating the horses give it. Do you have any recommendations?

 

 

Your primary objective in repairing pasture is to establish the forage grass as quickly as possible so that it will out-compete the weeds. The first thing I recommend is taking a soil test. This will help ensure that the soil pH and nutrients are at optimum levels for pasture growth and establishment.

 

Types of grasses and seeding times will depend on your area of the country, so talk to your local Cooperative Extension office for more specific recommendations. For example, the recommended dates for seeding forage grasses begins on March 15th for southern New Jersey. Try to begin forage grass establishment as close to the recommended date for your region as possible. This will allow the grasses to hopefully establish well before the possibility of drought.

 

The following links have recommended species for pasture planting:

 

 http://www.esc.rutgers.edu/publications/stablemgt/fs103.htm

 

 http://www.esc.rutgers.edu/publications/stablemgt/fs368.htm

 

 Also, when grazing your pastures, consider a rotation program along with a mowing plan to prevent the weeks from spreading.

 

Answer provided by Bill Bamka, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Burlington County Associate Professor/County Agriculture Agent, Field and Forage Crops.

 


 

I have a newly planted pasture; when can my horses graze it?
 

I planted a new field a couple of months ago and would like to know if, or when, I need to brush hog it? And when can I let my horses on it?

 

 

 

Your newly planted pasture will do best if you leave horses off of it for one full growing season. If you let horses graze it before that, the grass roots will not be well-developed and the horses may easily rip the entire plant out of the ground, wasting the effort you put into planting the pasture. The field can be mowed when grasses are 6-8" tall. Mowing before grasses go to seed will keep the plants in the vegetative leafy state and help thicken the stand. You should use this same principle when you graze the field: graze when grass is 6-8", remove horses when grass is 3-4". This management system will ensure a long, productive life for the grass you just planted. This frequent mowing will also do a good job controlling weeds. Make sure you take soil samples and send them to a lab to be tested for soil quality. You will receive a report that should tell you if you need to add fertilizer or lime. These applications, as recommended by the test results, will also improve the productivity of your newly planted pasture.

 

 

 


Why aren't pine wood shavings good for horses?
 

Is there a movement away from pine shavings as bedding for horses and why?

 

 

 

The reason pine shavings are not preferred as a bedding source is solely due to the fact that they are not good to spread on pasture land or crops or when used for composting. The relatively large particle size and higher lignin content makes wood bedding materials less biodegradable than straw bedding. When used in composting, the process will take much longer and have less mass reduction than with a straw product. Different woods vary slightly; however, most of the shavings sold are pine. Pine is popular because the soft wood is more absorbent. There are a number of pelleted wood products now that at least are more readily composted due to their smaller particle size.

 

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 

 


Do I have to keep horses off of the fields I am planting for making hay?
 

I have 14 acres with lots of weeds and I want to grow and cut hay. I have four horses and have been trying to find out if I can leave them on the 14 acres, or will I need to fence them in a smaller area to keep them off of the pasture I plant?

 

 

 

In establishing a hay field or pasture, the first order of business should be to conduct a soil test followed by adjustment of nutrient and pH levels so that the soil is optimal for growing pasture grasses. Weeds often thrive in poor soil conditions; therefore, improving the soil can actually help control them.

 

It is important to control the weeds as thoroughly as possible before harvesting hay. Ideally, the grasses will out-compete the weeds; planting into a stand of tall weeds will likely not yield good results. Once the weeds are under control, it is time to seed. If all 14 acres are going to be grazed and hayed at the same time, a pasture mix is better than a single species; in New Jersey, mixes containing Kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass, and endophyte-free tall fescue grow well. If there is acreage that will only be hayed and never grazed, other less persistent grasses like timothy may be appropriate.

 

To answer the question- yes, horses must be kept off for one growing season. The grasses' root systems won't be well developed until then, and the horses will pull the plants right out of the ground while grazing. Trampling will also affect the seedlings' survival.

 

For a productive grass stand that lasts several years, it is also important to keep the horses off of the pasture when weather conditions are not ideal- such as very wet, dry, or frozen. If you can spare an acre or two for a stress lot, horses can be kept there and fed hay when grazing conditions are not ideal.

 

The following fact sheets provide more information on planting fields for horses in New Jersey.

 

Establishing and Managing Horse Pastures

 

Equine Pasture Management "A Year-Round Approach"

 

 

 

 


 

Is there a slow-growing plant I could plant by my riding ring?
 

We want to plant some type of slow-growing plants on a bank outside of a newly made riding arena. I'm afraid to plant something that could possibly be toxic. I would like to plant a running juniper, which would take over the bank but not be a problem to manage. I have had mulch placed there but I need a stabilizer to keep the mulch from washing down into the arena. What do you suggest?

 

Junipers are indicated as toxic in many plant references. Therefore, I would tend to err on the side of caution and avoid planting any juniper species near a paddock or arena.

 

Depending on the slope length and gradient of your bank, you might consider terracing or geotextiles in combination with grass plantings for stabilization. I suggest you contact your local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office or the local soil conservation district and seek their advice for steep slope planting. The NRCS staff has specialists that deal with erosion and sediment control.

 

Answer provided by Bill Bamka, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Burlington County Associate Professor/County Agriculture Agent, Field and Forage Crops.

 

 


How can I keep snow from falling off my barn roof?
 

During the winter/spring months, I have a problem with my barn and arena roof. When snow slides off and hits the ground it scares the horses, preventing me from doing my usual training and lesson program. Is there anything I can do to prevent the melting snow from sliding off a metal roof?

 

Any roofing company can help you with this. Look into having “snow guards” installed on your roof. These are used to deflect large sheets of snow from sliding off and will make them melt instead. Some types of guards are called ‘snow deflectors’ and others are called ‘snow spikes’.

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension.

 

 


 

How can I kill Strongyles that are in my pasture?
 

How can you treat land that has housed a horse with a reoccurring positive test for Strongyles? The horse is now relocated but I now know this horse still has Strongyles and I want to treat the areas where he was located. Does putting down lime kill any parasites that may have gotten in my soil?

 

The best way to kill parasites on pasture is with dry heat. Since parasites don’t actually “live” in the soil, proper spreading of manure in fields combined with cooperating weather is best. Spread/drag empty fields when temperatures are above 80 degrees and sunny, with no rain in the forecast. The Strongyle larvae cannot survive high heat without any moisture. If fields are dragged, manure piles will be spread and dry quickly, and will not hold moisture for the parasites to live. Parasites will not survive on grass or soil alone unless another horse comes along that is shedding parasites and starts the cycle again.

 

As for the horse with the Strongyles, it sounds like the parasites are resistant to anthelmenthic. It is best to work with your veterinarian to develop a deworming program based on routine fecal egg counts and dewormer rotation.

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 


 

Is there a turf grass without endophytes?
 

I am planting a new lawn behind my house that borders two of my pastures. I am seeking an endophyte-free grass for my lawn but my landscaper wants to plant the dreaded tall fescue (which contains endophytes). I have broodmares so I am hesitant to allow him to plant the fescue even though he said he would make sure it is 30 feet away from the paddocks. I am afraid that because the endophyte turf grasses are so vigorous they will eventually invade my paddocks. I have been extremely careful so far about what I have planted in my paddocks and have started from scratch with some so I know my broodmares are grazing safely. Do you know of any endophyte-free grasses -- that would also double as a nice lawn -- that I can plant behind my house?

 

We recommend using bluegrass in the turf mixture as the bluegrasses don't have endophytes. Even using tall fescue with endophytes in the turf should not be a terrible problem. The endophytes do not move from plant to plant. Endophytes are transported on the seed, so the best defense would be to not allow the turf in the lawn to produce seed which could enter the pasture (i.e. keep the lawn in a nice mowed state!).

 

Answer provided by Bill Bamka, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Burlington County Associate Professor/County Agriculture Agent, Field and Forage Crops.

 


 

Are creeks reliable and safe water sources?


The place where I board my yearling lets their horses drink out of a small creek. It is running water; no other water is offered. The flow rate varies at different times of the year. During rainy times it really flows, and at drier times it is moving, but not very quickly. I do not know the actual source of the water. How do I know that this is safe?

 

 

Water intake in horses, as in humans, has a great impact on the horse’s health and affects fluid balance, temperature and exercise control. It is the most important nutrient for horses - the good news is that it is also the cheapest! When evaluating a water source, two factors should be considered: temperature and cleanliness.

 

The temperature of the water is important because some horses do not like to drink water if it is too hot or too cold. Water temperatures will increase or decrease with the weather. Stock tanks or automatic waterers usually have heaters in them to prevent freezing in the winter and keep the water temperature palatable. In the hot summer months, stock tanks and buckets need to be changed and cleaned as they accumulate dirt and algae.

 

Water quality is also very important. Algae often contaminates ponds, and blue-green algae can be toxic to horses. Scrubbing tanks and buckets with bleach can help. However, if you are only using streams or ponds as a water source, this is not an option. The potential problem of having a stream or pond as a sole source of water is that if the water is contaminated, it will be a problem for the horse. County Health officials can test your pond or stream, unless it is public, in which case it is constantly tested.

 

Another potential problem: in the dry months the stream runs the risk of drying up, leaving your horses with only muddy algae-filled puddles to drink from. You will need to check the stream every day to provide another option in case this occurs. You might want to familiarize your barn owner with the Nutrient Waste Management Regulations that are currently under review. Farms that allow their horses (or other livestock) to defecate in streams will be in violation of these regulations. Any farms that allow their animals access to running water will be considered an Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) and be required to have a Nutrient Management Plan. For more information on this please see the press release and fact sheet at http://www.esc.rutgers.edu/news_more/File/CAFO.htm .

 

Answer provided by Carey Williams, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

 


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The material provided on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or treat any illness. Any recommendations are not intended to replace the advice of your veterinarian. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Mention or display of a trademark, proprietary product, or firm in text or figures does not constitute an endorsement by the Equine Science Center or Rutgers University and does not imply approval to the exclusion of other suitable products or firms.

 

 

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