Physical Aspects

Mindset of a Pasture Manager Profit by reducing costs of feed management and manure management Rely less on labour and machinery Allow animals to do their own thing Challenges for Pasture Manager Balance forage availability with demand Fast regrowth during season and long term persistence Overgrazing = close grazing of preferred species Undergrazing = undesirable plants left Plant Recovery Between Grazings Graze when plants are leafy and nutritious with reasonable yield Temperature, moisture, fertility Leaf surface area left after grazing Amount of CHO stored in plant

When grazing, the most important factor in "quality" of any species (naturalized or improved) is maturity:

Adequate Plant Rest Periods Before the Next Grazing Repeated cutting for hay or silage results in a less firm sod for exercise (higher cutting height than for pasture)

Repeated close grazing reduces the proportion of some species (e.g. trefoil, bromegrass, timothy) and total dry matter yield Adequate rest replaces plant CHO reserves, produces more surface tea for photosynthesis

Rotational Grazing Based on the time required for pasture to recover Length of Rest Period Spring: 15-20 days Summer: 30-40 days System must be flexible Days of Grazing per Pasture or Paddock Long enough to graze pasture and short enough to avoid grazing regrowth Whole areas grazed quickly and uniformly Less wastage by trampling and fouling No opportunity for selective grazing Most important feature of rotational grazing is period when animals are not on the pasture… allows plants chance to build up CHO reserves What are a pasture manager's goal for the plants? solar energy intercepted number of leaves per unit area size of leaves leaf area/ha length of growing season Allow palatable, nutritious plants to compete successfully for sunlight, H2O and nutrients Clipping (Mowing) After removal of animals, clip (mow) to 4-5 cm (1.5 to 2 inches) Longer for other forages Remove old forage - stimulate regrowth

Control weeds, prevents grasses heading Some dry clippings will be eaten later Aeration Dense sod for active horses is like a lawn or playing field - aeration helps roots Pastures suffering compaction may benefit from aeration One commercial aerator has a seeding attachment Dragging (Harrowing) Use a chain harrow or link harrow ≥ 1x per season Spreads manure, exposing parasites to sun and air Manure can decompose quickly, returning organic matter and nutrients to soil Effect of Manure on Grazing Animals avoid grazing plants next to manure Depending on stocking rate, this can affect 10-45% of the pasture With higher stocking rate, animals are forced to eat more and more hoof action breaks up manure Areas between dung pats get overgrazed Manure Management Usually do not spread manure on areas to be grazed. If you must, compost first, then spread thinly. On small pastures for 1 or 2 horses, some managers pick up manure daily Walk, rather than drive your pastures Check the smoothness Detect insects and weeds, holes and roughness Assess the plant growth, vigour, colour, height, species variation Find hazards; pick up wire and trash Maintain and Manage that Pasture Use frequent, close grazing, with high stocking density, for uniform defoliation Understocking or under-grazing allows selective grazing of short favourite plants. allowing tall, less palatable plants to grow, shade the others and reproduce Under-grazed plants return apical buds, do not branch out Overgrazing Plants are exposed to intensive grazing for extended periods of time, or without sufficient recovery periods Reduces the usefulness, productivity, and biodiversity of the land Leads to spread of undesired plant species A Balancing Act

Increasing stocking density allows quick uniform grazing down to desired plant height Too high a stocking density = excess trampling damage Manage: soil fertility, type of plants in high traffic areas, drainage, to keep animals off fragile areas when wet

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