Equine Pasture Management Leads to Owner Satisfaction

horse in pasture

Although horses use less pastureland in Iowa than cattle and sheep, most of the state’s 154,000 horses do depend on some form of pasture for a food source. This makes proper agronomic management of equine pastureland critical.

In the 2021 growing season alone, field agronomist Michael Witt received multiple inquiries from people who wanted to know what they could do to improve and maximize the use of their pastures. Concerns included the drought, poor grass growth, reseeding options and potential species, weed control and grass health issues.

Program Outcomes

Witt responded to nearly 20 clients from 10 Iowa counties, through in-person visits and phone calls. One way he helped his clients was by sharing popular ISU Extension and Outreach publications, including “Pasture Management Guide for Livestock Producers,” “Fertilizing Pasture,” “Selecting Forage Species,” as well as multiple others, depending on each client’s needs.

He also conducted a survey with 11 clients, on the relevance of the information provided. Ninety percent said the information was helpful for improving the overall health of their horses, 82% said the information helped improve their pastures, 36% said the information helped horse owners better manage their cost structure, 46% said they made substantial changes to their management systems, and 100% said they would call ISU Extension and Outreach as more information becomes available.

Impacting Iowans

“Equine generally give their owners many benefits that are more holistic in nature than profitability based,” said Witt. “With the increase of mental health and other stress related issues within rural populations, quality of life is as important to public good as profitability. Pasture management and proper care for equine animals is important for the health and wellbeing of the animals to ensure the public benefits.”