While it may be tempting to drop grass clippings from the yard into horse pastures thinking it may be a tasty snack, there could be dire consequences.
As horses graze, they choose the grass they want to eat, tear it off and chew it thoroughly. This allows for a steady stream of food in the digestive system. When a pile of grass clippings are offered to a horse, they can rapidly ingest much more food than they would grazing.
Grass clippings are high in sugar and carbohydrates, and rapid intake can upset the microbial balance in the hindgut, possibly leading to colic or laminitis. Also, the grass clippings can compact into tight balls, which can cause horses to choke while eating them.
Additional issues arise when clippings are in a pile during hot weather: temperatures in the pile rise rapidly, leading to the creation of mold and bacteria, which could cause diarrhea or colic in horses that ingest the clippings.
Many lawns are treated with chemicals and herbicides to keep them looking green; these can be harmful to horses as well. Many ornamental shrubs and plants that are planted around homes are poisonous to horses. If even a few leaves from the most-poisonous plants are ingested, horses can become ill.
Read more at the Alberta Farmer Express.
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