Smart horse property buyers know the value of good pasturage so the wise property owner will maintain pasture not only for the health of their own horses but to insure the property’s value remains competitive.
Understand How Grass Grows
Understanding how grass grows is an important step towards good pasture management. The leaves of grass or blades of grass are the light absorption mechanism that produces energy from photosynthesis. This energy is stored in the roots as carbohydrates and drawn on by the plant to produce growth. When grass is grazed (or mowed) the leaves are removed reducing the plants ability to absorb light and energy. With less absorption ability the roots begin to shrink as the carbohydrate reserves are depleted.
Horses and People Damage Pasture
Horses and people can be hard on pasture health. Overgrazing and heavy traffic reduce the health of pasturage. If left to their own devises horse tend to graze their same favorite areas leaving the grasses in those areas little opportunity to replenish their roots.
Healthy Pastures Need Healthy Roots
There are five basic measures you can take to assist healthy root growth.
- Use rotational grazing: Give each area three to four weeks to recover.
- Mow less and cut grass high: Mow only after removing the horses from the area leaving at least 4 inches height. Allow the grass to grow to 6 to 8 inches before grazing again.
- Fertilize: Soil test pasture every 2 to 3 years and apply fertilizer as recommended. Your county extension office will have the test kits.
- Protect high-traffic areas: Areas around gates, waterers, and feeding areas will not maintain healthy grass. Geotextile fabric under dense rock pads is one way to maintain these areas.
- Install a sacrifice lot: The sacrifice lot is a small area that is “sacrificed” to protect the larger pasturage. A sacrifice lot should be a place that has naturally good drainage. Though smaller, it should be a lot sufficient to provide a place to turn horses out even during the dampest and coldest seasons while protecting the primary pasturage.
Improve Your Horse Property Value
Improve your property value by starting below the soil surface. A healthy and resilient pasture feeds horses, provides safe footing and reduces the cost of horse ownership. A strong root system provides a solid foundation for maintaining the value of your horse property.
Summarized from Growing Horse Pastures From the Ground Up. The Horse, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: April 28, 2018.
When you are ready to buy or sell your horse property contact
the Farm and Equine Estate Specialist of Western North Carolina.