Happy summer my fellow science-seekers!
I hope everyone is enjoying the new leisurely change of pace that this season brings; although, I have been known to lounge around the farm all year long! Now, I know the saying goes, “April showers brings May flowers,” but what happens when June and July are super-soaking stormy months also? Did you know that in June alone we had almost 10 inches of rain? That is more than double the monthly average! Like most horses, I love to splash in puddles and roll around in mud baths! But, all of this rain can have some negative effects on pastures and forage for horses.
Now that pastures have had an extra-long drink of rainwater, they are ready to kick off the summer growing season. When horses graze, they chew grass down to less than an inch high! Talk about a close shave! I must admit also, horses are very picky about the grass that they eat. They tend to prefer the shorter grass because it has more sugar. It’s nature’s candy! Farm managers may have to mow the grass in some of their fields because horses just can’t get to it all before it’s too tall!
In hot and sticky weather, like we’ve been having lately, moisture and heat will stay trapped in mounds of freshly mowed grass causing it to start fermenting, which can be really bad for horses to eat. Fermentation is the process in which sugars are converted to acids, gases and/or alcohol using yeast or bacteria. If grass clippings start to ferment and produce mold, it can be deadly to your horse. Make sure to spread clippings in a thin and even layer in your field so that they can dry out before horses nibble on them!
A fun way to control the effects of storm rain water on your farm is to grow a rain garden! This is a patch of land created to catch all of the runoff water that accumulates during a storm. The best part is that all of the water that is collected helps to feed the flowers that grow there. It’s the perfect blend of functionality and beauty, as I like to say!
Another water-woe to be wary of is right in your horse’s water bucket! Lately, I haven’t been the only one drinking my own water. It is quite often that I find birds, cats, or even squirrels taking a gulp of my H2O. It’s OK to share, but you don’t want your thirsty little friends to dirty your horses. Be sure to clean and replenish your horse’s water daily as a best farm management practice.