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ANS415 Pasture Evaluation

Evaluating PastureDale Miller, Marion County Extension Program Director, Knoxville, IA discussed and demonstrated to students from Equine Systems Management how to evaluate a pasture during laboratory time on Wednesday 4/13.

The discussion included evaluating hay, how to take a hay sample for analysis, how to take a soil sample for analysis and what the soil sample will tell one about nutrients needed to fertilize the soil. Discussion also included evaluating the type of grass or legume in a pasture with most of the samples we looked at were Smooth Brome and Kentucky Blue Grass. Clovers were discussed and their ability to cause horses to slobber. Dale also discussed grazing management utilizing rotational grazing.


Forages for Horses in Iowa

Forages as hay or pasture make up the significant share of the daily intake of a horse. Horses are natural grass eaters with front teeth suited for biting off the grass. The molars chew and grind bulky feed, such as hay and coarse grains. A mature horse that is not working hard will eat 1.5 to 2 pounds of air-dry feed per 100 pounds of body weight. That would be 15 to 20 pounds of hay daily for a 1,000-pound horse. In Iowa, horses will require about 2 tons of hay per head per year plus summer pasture. When meeting nutrient requirements, carefully consider forage quality and nutrient content.

Soil Tests

Soil tests are necessary for assessment to see what and how much fertilizer is required. Soil surveys can be used for general farm, local and wider area planning.