5 Things to consider when seeding or re-seeding your pastures
High yield, turf building, legumes, lower sugar, drought hardy, heavy traffic…
There are so many options and so much mixed information. It’s beyond confusing. How are you supposed to know what to plant to have your pasture actually meet your needs?
Well, I got your back. I’ve written out a few important guidelines for you to use to make sure you get it just right for your horses.
1. Determine how much traffic your pasture is going to get.
Do you have horses that are heavy players? They love to run, buck, and be wild. For them, the pasture is just as much about ripping around as it is about eating. In this case, going with a grass that is able to handle wear and tear is more important than choosing the seed with the highest yield.
This mistake happens a lot. Many people are stuck having to keep their horses locked off their pastures because they are worried they will get torn up. Then the grass super long (high yield) and the risk of health issues that come from overeating go up.
On the other hand, if you have horses that use the pasture more for napping, strolling, and grazing or have dental issues then it will serve them well to seed with grasses that are a bit more tender.
2. Figure out what kind of soil you have.
Taking into consideration your soil type is very important. Just because a type of seed is able to grow in your region of the world doesn’t mean that it is going to thrive in the conditions on your particular piece of land. You may have rocky soil that drains quickly, while the pasture at your friend’s place down the road is lower land with rich black dirt. You’re both in the same area of the country but you wouldn’t necessarily have the same types of grasses grow well in your pasture.
3. Consider the weather in your area.
Choosing a seed that likes to grow in your particular weather conditions not only ensures it will survive but it also helps to keep the plants from being stressed by weather changes less often. When plants become stressed the starches and sugars tend to change which can wreak havoc on your horse’s system.
4. Determine the nutritional needs of your horses.
Is your pasture going to be used as the main food source for your horses during certain times of the year? If so you will want to take a realistic look at the nutritional needs of your horses. If you have easy keeper horses that would benefit from spending more time searching for food and using the pasture area for exercise then you wouldn’t want to plant a lush high yield pasture. On the other hand, if you have horses that are harder keepers and are using the pasture to help keep your feed bill down then you would want to choose seeds that would have higher feed value.
Many seed companies are geared toward selling and marketing seeds that are made to be consumed by production animals (animals that are making babies, milk, or meat). Most of our horses are not producing anything other than manure and great rides. It would be wise to watch out for the seed blends that are made to make a steer double its weight in six months.
You may end up paying a little more for the blend that is made for horses. But you will easily make up the difference having a horse that is healthy and thriving all year long. Instead of one that struggles with weight fluctuations and digestive issues from the wrong pasture.
*One thing you will want to be sure to stay away is endophytes especially if you are planning to raise foals as it is toxic.
5. Don't skip the soil test.
Soil testing is going to be immensely helpful in determining what deficiencies you may have and what to add to the soil to ensure that your pasture can thrive. Soil testing can also save you a ton of money as it can save you from having to add fertilizer unnecessarily. Most people go through their local extension office to have soil testing done on their fields but if you don’t have services in the area you live in you can get the same info from a mail in soil test option like this one here.
Here’s to greener grass being on your side of the fence.