As horse owners, we need to consider the impacts we have on our neighbors and the environment. By increasing our awareness of how we impact the environment and taking steps to minimize that impact, we can help preserve the equestrian way of life that we enjoy. The good news is that what’s good for the environment is also good for you, your horses, your farm or ranch, and your neighborhood.Read More
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Filtering by Category: pasture management
We are excited to announce that this fall, Alayne will be presenting at the Best Horse Practices summit in New Glouchester, ME. This two-day summit will bring together educators, researchers, horse owners, and working, professional, and recreational riders for presentations on best practices related to horse care, handling, management, training, and riding.Read More
Your neighbors enjoy their view of your place: horses frolicking on green fields and eating healthy forage from the pasture grass swaying in the breeze. You’re pleased too, because you know your pocketbook is benefiting from reduced hay bills. The environment is happy; abundant pasture plants are putting the nutrients from horse manure to good use, nutrients that might otherwise wash off your property and possibly cause contamination issues.
That’s your farm, right? Or, does your pasture resemble a weedy confinement area, one that turns into mud from the lightest rain?Read More
Now is the time to get ready for winter, before cold, dark, and wet days make chores extra difficult. Here are four quick tips for getting ahead of the issues many horse owners face during the winter months.Read More
Horses for Clean Water has many wonderful educational opportunities available throughout the Pacific Northwest this summer and fall. I hope you’ll plan to come join in on the fun, learning, and horse’n around!Read More
Horses are picky eaters: they like to eat the short grass because it is sweeter and more tender than the tall grass. If horses keep returning to the short grass and eating it down to the ground, the grass will eventually die out. Rotational grazing is one technique you can use to keep your horses from overgrazing. Here’s how you can implement a rotational grazing system in your own pastures.Read More
Not much time is spent thinking that about what’s going on below the surface of our pastures, but in fact, it turns out that what’s below is key to what’s above. Proper soil management can make a major difference for healthy pastures, and spring is the best time to take action.Read More
Tips for June:
- Eliminate flies and mosquitoes.
- Keep pastures and plants productive.
- Protect and maintain farm equipment.
Like many people these days you probably struggle to weave chores, work, riding and family time into your life's fabric, leaving leisure activities behind in the dust. This month, we're making a case for attending an equine class or event—why it can be worth the effort, and why so many people have thanked us after they made time to attend one.Read More
Have you wondered if there’s something more you can do with your farm or small acreage, something innovative and fun, that might help with a little extra income? If so, then you might be interested in agritourism, ecotourism or geotourism, a key focus of a Horses for Clean Water event in early May in Snoqualmie, WA.Read More
By dividing a pasture into smaller portions and rotating livestock through each section, you encourage even grazing and keep plants from becoming overgrazed. This technique guarantees fresh forage for a longer period of time during the growing season, saving you money on feed bills, and keeping your horses happily grazing.Read More
Rotational grazing is key to keeping your pastures productive and your horses happily munching away through the dry summer months. And it’s pretty easy to do, with a little planning and the right tools.Read More
Pasture management. I think it’s one of the hardest things for horse owners to get their minds around. It doesn’t matter where I go—Idaho, Washington State, Australia—I think it’s the number one question horse owners have.Read More
It’s gratifying when our readers share their stories. What’s working on their farm? What are their goals? What tidbits have they learned along the way and what issues are they currently facing? Hearing their stories can be a great way to view our own experiences, both our successes and our failures. Sometimes from a different vantage point we can assimilate fresh ideas to help out on the farm.
This month we travel to Urban Cattle in Thurston County, Washington, a farm whose owner has been attending Horses for Clean Water classes and tours for over ten years now. Here’s what she shared with us:
HCW: Can you tell us why you initially set up your farm, and what your current objective is?
This farm has served to recharge me from a demanding career. I work to raise seed stock Herefords cattle that pose desirable genetic traits that can be measured by DNA testing and expected progeny difference (EPD’s), which is based on ancestry. It is fun to choose from the array of Hereford bulls with leading genetics and then see how the offspring turn out.
HCW: What new skills have you enjoyed learning?
Working to be a good steward of the land and my animals has taught me a lot, from carpentry skills and rumen function to dung beetles and birthing calves. Horses for Clean Water got me launched into best practices with their great practical information, especially dealing with the rain and manure issues that come with raising livestock in the Pacific Northwest.
HCW: Can you tell us some of the improvements you’ve made that have helped you manage your cattle and your land?
I have implemented a number of practices. One of the main improvements has been constructing a winter confinement area that is free of mud. Manure is collected daily; I have also constructed a manure composting building that is conveniently located nearby it for chore efficiency. For the composting system, I pipe forced air into the bins and occasionally turn it with the tractor to augment the rate of decomposition. In addition, I use a lightweight rototiller to break the drier, composting manure into smaller pieces to further speed the process. Often I have paid people who have done some small job for me with organic compost at their request.
Another improvement is that I now utilize both pasture rotation and strip grazing via portable electric poly wire fencing and step-in posts. By setting the electrically charged wires high, the calves can pass underneath and graze the best grasses, with the cows to follow when the fence line is moved. Most cattle people will tell you, they are really grass farmers.
Additionally I add nutrients to my pastures as needed, and it seems that liming is always necessary for my soil type. Dung beetles break up the manure enough such that I have not used my harrow for a few years now. I stay away from worming medication and fly control methods that could hurt the dung beetles.
Flies are controlled with wasp predators and Rescue® brand fly attractant bag traps. I also use a fly spray for the horn flies - different types of flies are killed or trapped by different methods. No one method kills all species.
I have enhanced the property for wildlife by providing plants, water sources and shelter for a variety of animals. A progression of native pollinator plants have been planted and provide nectar and pollen for bees, from when they first emerge all the way through fall. I have purchased plants at Conservation District and Native Plant Society sales.
Also, I have installed about a dozen bird houses that are usually inhabited by tree swallows. Snakes have rock warming areas and the rough skin newts have logs and other woody debris in the forest to utilize. The list goes on - this year I am going to try a moist mineral container for butterflies.
HCW: Any last comments or achievements you’d like to share with our readers?
Realize that making your place the best it can be is a process that takes time. As much as we want it to happen overnight it doesn’t, but there are benefits to going slower. I think you will make a better choice on your upgrades when you have the time to think them through. Attend farm tours so you can get ideas about what might work for you. I encourage everyone to get the infrastructure done first before purchasing your animals. Then when you have the animals you will have more time to enjoy them.
Recently I have been awarded a Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Grant from The Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture. I would recommend and encourage others to check out this program.
You can read more about Urban Cattle in our photo corral.
Providing shelter for your horse can mean anything from a tree in a pasture to a nice, big barn. If you are in the market for a horse shelter, or would like to add one to your pasture, consider a horse’s basic requirements when reviewing design options.
Healthy horses can withstand cold temperatures, but when it’s windy as well, they can lose a considerable amount of body heat. This situation worsens when a horse is wet from rain or snow. Horses should be provided with a place where they can get out of extreme heat, driving rain and wind, and severe cold temperatures. This can be anything from a basic run-in shed to larger structure.Read More
Review your horse health routine with your veterinarian. Good dental care, a vaccination program and regular parasite control are important components of a regular horse care routine, but with the start of cold weather when your horse may have trouble maintaining body weight or condition, they are even more important.Read More
Do you crave the satisfaction of seeing your horses frolic and graze on lush, green pastures?
May is an optimum growing month around North America, especially for grasses. A quick assessment of your pastures now can ensure they are healthy, productive and beautiful throughout summer and fall.Read More
Probably the most important aspect of managing pastures is the time when you take your horses off your pasture. You can greatly improve the health and productivity of your pasture plants by creating and using a paddock, or “sacrifice area” to confine your horses for when pasture plants need to grow. A sacrifice area becomes your horses outdoor living space when they aren’t on the pasture. Here are a few tips on creating a sacrifice area:Read More
Getting Ready for the Busy Season Ahead
Spring is just around the corner, in some parts of the country daffodils are poking their heads up and may even be blooming. That means now is the time to get things done around your horse property so you will be ready for the upcoming growing season. Here are a few tips to get you started:Read More