It’s a common misconception that horses’ pastures don’t have to be mowed, since the horses will effectively take care of that for us. But the truth is, mowing is an important part of pasture maintenance. Here are just a few of the benefits of mowing your pastures.
Enhance Pasture Quality
Mowing your pasture is an excellent way to enhance the quality of the grass available to your horses. By mowing your pasture, you can keep the grass in a growing state continuously throughout your summer. This increases the quality of the grass available to your horses. Additionally, shorter grass is more appealing and more easily digested by your horses, so they will get more out of the time that they spend grazing.
Prevent Weeds From Taking Over
As weeds grow in your pasture, your horses will avoid eating them. Because the weeds go uneaten while the grass around them is consumed, weeds can grow freely – and quickly. It is possible for weeds to get so big that they start to choke out the grass in your pasture, and soon your pasture will be more weeds than grass. Mowing weeds helps to keep them from going to seed, while reducing their height and giving the grass around them a fighting chance.
Break Grazing Patterns
Have you noticed that your horses tend to heavily graze particular areas of your pasture, while leaving others seemingly untouched? Heavily grazed areas are full of short grass, or may even go bare, while the untouched areas have grass that grows tall and lush. This grazing in patterns is a natural behavior for horses, but it can leave much of the pasture unused.
The problem with grazing patterns is that once they’re started, horses will be reluctant to break them. Taller grass isn’t as sweet as the shorter grass, so horses may graze their preferred areas so heavily that there is no grass left by the end of the season.
By mowing your pasture, you can break your horses’ grazing patterns. Mowing the taller grass leaves it more palatable and appealing to your horses, encouraging them to graze these previously untouched areas. You will likely have to mow a few times before the pattern is broken, but mowing can motivate your horses to use more of the pasture.
A Note About Grass Clippings
When you mow your pasture, make sure that you only do so with a mower with a bagger, or use a harrow. Grass clippings ferment incredibly quickly, and can pose a serious colic risk. A mower bag will catch the clippings, while harrowing the pasture will spread the clippings out thinly so horses can’t access big piles of them.
Mowing your pastures takes a little extra time, but it’s well worth it in terms of the benefits that mowing can provide to your pastures.