Thursday, 22 March 2018
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Livestock-Natural Resources

Finally, we are seeing green pastures.  It’s always reassuring that the world will go on after a dreary winter.  Our livestock are starting to act goofy, and not for good fences would surely be out.  It’s so tempting to let the ponies out to graze, but that can be so dangerous, when the grass is growing quickly, it’s very easy for horses especially ponies to founder.  It’s always fun to watch them free range, much to husband’s dislike.

A good rule of thumb on turning horses out to grass is to wait until the growth has slowed down.  Somewhere around 6-8 inches.   Immediate access to lush, spring grass can cause colic or laminitis (founder).
A crucial factor in managing horses on pasture is to avoid abrupt changes from a fed ration to pasture and from extremes of pasture quality. Changes especially are a problem when horses are moved from a lower quality pasture or no pasture to a high-quality pasture.

Cattle aren’t exempt. An interesting note to add to pasture management
plans. Pastures with legumes such as clover offer help in management strategies to prevent grass tetany. Legumes offer more readily available Magnesium and therefore can serve as a natural Mg supplement for grazing cattle and sheep. Some weeds also contain high levels of Mg as well and can serve as a magnesium source. Legumes and some weeds provide Mg that is more readily absorbed into the blood stream than many grasses.

Common prevention for grass tetany is the strategic use of high magnesium mineral. This is still the standard approved practice for grass tetany prevention. Grazing fertilized grasses in Winter and Spring requires high magnesium mineral feeding. Feeding
a high mag mineral should begin in the fall and continue thorough spring time. Remember, grass tetany occurs in cool, damp cloudy days very typically occurring
during Winter and Spring. Cattle that have been diagnosed with Grass tetany are also typically found to have low Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is normally added to our commercial mineral mixes for this reason.

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