Roughing It: Why Perfect Pastures Shouldn’t Be A Goal

by | 11.20.2019 | 11:26am

While a perfectly level, green pasture may be the dream of many horse owners, there's a reason why horses routinely graze only certain areas of their fields, leaving others to grow uneven grass and weeds. Dubbed “roughs,” these are sections of the pasture where horses defecate, but don't graze.

Horses shed parasites with their manure, so by not grazing near where they defecate, they self-limit parasite exposure. Parasitologist Dr. Martin Nielsen notes that if pastures are overstocked or overgrazed, horses are forced to graze closer to where they defecate. Horses that must graze near roughs are exposed to 10 to 20 times more larva per kilo of grass instead of grazing in the lawns, Nielsen notes.

If farm owners would like to mow the roughs or harrow the manure in them, the weather should be dry for at least a month and it should be at least in the mid-80s, Nielsen advises. If farm owners mow or drag when temperatures are mild and it's raining, the parasites will be spread all over the field, exposing more horses to the larvae.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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