Owning horses is an expensive endeavor, for those who have the property to properly house their horses ensuring that they are securely kept in a pasture, providing adequate feed and saving wherever you can is a must. One of the best ways to save is by the proper use of rotational grazing. This practice first grew in popularity with cattle ranches and sheep farms, but has become more and more common in horse operations as well.
It is especially important to ensure that you are monitoring the pasture growth to ensure that you are putting your horses into a pasture during its prime grazing time. Putting them in too late or leaving them too long will be detrimental to the pasture as well as to the nutritional value the horse is able to acquire (https://extension.psu.edu/animals-and-livestock/equine). By implementing an effective rotational practice you will ensure that your horses are fed well, and your pasture maintains itself with little intervention.
Why Electric Fencing?
There are multiple ways to set up and maintain a rotational program; however, it is most effectively done with electric fencing. This can be either a permanent fence or a temporary fence. Electric fence is economical, flexible, and easy to install in multiple terrains as well as safe for your horses and other livestock.
The key to successfully implementing a rotational grazing program is to make sure that you are using an adequate power supply. You will find that most electric fence charging systems are ranked by mileage, but you need to also ensure that you are checking that the system is a minimum of one joule per five acres. More acres, means more joules to keep the charge moving; this is not to say that the horse is going to be injured by the power running through the fence, this is to ensure that the fence has a consistent voltage throughout its entirety. The benefit to using rotational grazing and electric fence is that you do not need to keep the entire pasture charged at any given time. The only sections you’ll keep hot are those in which you’re horses are currently grazing, which can be easily moved as you rotate through sections of pasture.
Do I really need to rotate?
Some users may find that it is easier to leave their electric fencing up around each rotational acreage, but it is not necessary to do so, in fact some find it more economical and flexible to only fence the current acreage being used and to move the fence with each move of your horses. This may seem like a lot of work but it does allow for more variation in pasture size and use. It allows for more efficient use of the land during wet seasons in which certain areas may flood, while taking advantage of drier more prolific growth in other areas. This ability to change the pasture as needed also prevents specific areas of highly desirable foliage from being trampled and crushed due to high traffic from your horses.
The disadvantage to this type of grazing is that you will need to be more proactive in ensuring that you are moving your horses through your rotation properly. Making sure that you move them before they over graze causing more damage that good to the pasture, and ensuring that you move them into a new pasture before it becomes over grown and the nutritional value of the grasses is diminished is vitally important to your success. (https://thehorse.com/117909/rotational-grazing-time-it-right-for-optimal-pastures/) We feel that the benefits of this type of grazing far outweigh the negatives, especially because new technology has made it even easier to move and adjust your electric fence for example the Gallagher Smart Fence makes it incredibly easy to set up and take down fencing and provide you with a steady increase of growth that will not only keep your horses well fed with grasses of nutritional value but will also reduce the amount of supplemental feed that you will need to provide in the form of grain or hay/grass bales.
No matter how you choose to feed and house your horses, it is never a cheap endeavor, but keeping your costs down while still providing adequate grazing opportunities is quite easily done with the use of permanent or temporary electric fencing and the use of rotational grazing. Keeping your lands unique qualities in mind will allow you to partition sections for the most beneficial use by your horse, while allowing other areas to regrow providing a constant supply of high quality feed for your horses to be produced on land you already own.