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Equine Pasture Management for Winter

Have you checked your horse's paddock ready for winter? 

 

Now that the winter months are creeping in on us, not only is it time to prepare ourselves for the drop in temperatures, the constant rain and the endless supply of mud, we also need to prepare our turnout areas before the harsh weather is upon us.  

 

 

Previous research from the British Horse Society has indicated that during the winter 73% of horses are turned out to pasture for approximately eight hours every day. In order for us to have sufficient grazing during the summer months, it is good idea to designate a turnout area for over the winter periodIdeally, this turnout area should be of a non-clay soil type with a gentle slope to aid the drainage of water into surrounding natural sources (i.e. ditches). It is also a good idea to choose a turnout area which has older, more established pasture as this pasture is less likely to get damaged due to having thicker swards.  

 

Alternatively, if you are unable to delegate one specific paddock for the winter months, rotational grazing can be beneficial in rejuvenating grazed pasture. Rotational grazing also prevents the likelihood of poaching occurring as the horse(s) will not be constantly standing or moving on the same area of pasture. This will prevent the soil becoming compacted and therefore reduce the likelihood of eroding soil and water contamination. Another benefit of rotational grazing is that it allows the pasture a chance to rest in order to re-grow sufficient swards of grass for the spring months.  

 

 

As winter grazing is often of poor quality with little nutrients, it is recommended that horses are fed a good quality hay or haylagealongside a vitamin and mineral balancer in their concentrate feed (if they are not being fed the full recommended amount of hard feed for their weight and workload). Our supplement Benevit contains 25 vitamins, minerals and Omega 3 fatty acids to balance the diet and complement forage intake, making it the perfect addition for all horses and ponies' diets. Find more information on keeping your horse healthy this winter by tapping here.

 

Top tips for preparing your horse’s turnout pasture for the winter...

 

  • Ideally, select turnout paddocks with permanent pasture and a slope or thorough drainage system to prevent flooding. Also, make sure that nearby ditches or drainage sources are free from debris to reduce the chance of blocked pipes or flooding.   

 

 

  • Autumn is the ideal time to check that your winter paddocks have safe and secure fencing. Check that there are no hedges or objects that could cause fencing to short out or break. The last thing you want to be doing in the wet and windy weather is trying to fix a rotten post or snapped electric tape 

 

  • Another top tip for selecting a suitable winter turnout area is choosing a paddock which has two gates, this will reduce the footfall through each gate and also decrease the chance of the same area becoming severely poached. 

 

  • Check that your winter paddocks have adequate water access. Automatic water troughs should be cleaned and in good working order ready for the winter months with anti-freezing material wrapped around the pipes to prevent freezing. A helpful method of preventing water from freezing in low temperatures is to place a tennis ball in the water, the ball should constantly be moving so therefore reduces the chance of the water freezing.   

 

 

If you require any advice or assistance regarding your horse's winter diet, our Nutritionists would be happy to help! We are open seven days a week, please contact us via freephone 0800 585525 or email [email protected]