Forage for Horses workshop

The Ohio Forage and Grassland Council will be hosting an Equine Pasture and Hay Management Workshop on Saturday July 28, 2012 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at AC Acres, Vicki Ayotte farm, 8481 Pontius Road, Groveport, Ohio. The farm is in the southeast corner of Franklin County west of State Route 674, east of Rickenbacker, and south of Groveport along the Walnut Creek.   This will workshop will be covering information on pasture management, pasture soil fertility, forage species selection, tall fescue management, horse nutrition on pasture, manure management, and a pasture walk where plants will be identified and designing a grazing paddock system will be discussed.

The day will end with a hay quality discussion and hay evaluation session. Attendees are encouraged to bring a sample of their own hay for evaluation. Bob Hendershot, retired NRCS State Grassland Conservation and now part-time ODNR-DSWR grazing specialist will be leading the discussion. Hendershot helped develop the Forage for Horses program and has presented this material across the country.

This workshop will provide tips to make better use of your horse pasture. Improving the productivity of your pastures can reduce the amount of hay needed. A well-managed pasture can provide a large portion of a horse’s forage requirement mid-April through mid-November.   Horses grazing well-managed paddocks will spread their manure over the pasture instead of in loafing areas or in their stalls. Healthy grass and legume plants are more productive if given the opportunity to regrow in-between grazing events.

Forage can be improved forage growth by dividing the pasture into smaller paddocks and rotate the animals among the separate paddocks. Managing the forage is an important concept to understand to protect the environment, soil, water, plants and animals.

Weeds compete with forage plants for moisture, sunlight and nutrients. Grazing management can keep most weeds out. Horse owners need to be aware of toxic plants and their control measures.  A pasture that is continuously grazed, over grazed, or has inadequate soil fertility can make weed problems even worse.

Selecting the right forage species for the use and the soil type can help in providing a healthy pasture. Horse grazing areas should be long and narrow rectangles because horses tend to graze in a linear fashion, different than cattle. The location of animal watering facilities is also a concern in designing a grazing system. This information and more will be discussed register early to secure a place for the Central Ohio Forage for Horses Workshop.

Producers need to register by July 20, 2012 by contacting Hendershot at bobhendershot2011@gmail or 740-477-1114.  A registration fee of $65 per farm will include materials, a 400-page Forage for Horses notebook, Pasture Stick, refreshments and lunch on Saturday July 28.

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