Notes on Grass from Pete Ramey Clinic August 24 & 25 2019, Ipswich MA
Grass Pasture, Notes from Pete Ramey Clinic, 8/24-8/25/19
Doesn’t really matter what kind of grass you have, anything that is happy in its environment is good.
If the grass is stressed, the sugars will spike. The sun hits the grass and it starts making sugar, then the growth starts, and the growing utilizes the sugar. If it is producing more than the growth is using then the sugar is higher, and it is highest in the late afternoon when the growth is slowing down.
The grass consumes the sugar all night, so it is at its lowest point right before dawn. From 2:00 AM to 10:00 AM the sugar is at its lowest. It averages 12% sugar in the morning, and 18% sugar afternoon and evening.
When the climate turns colder, sugars are stored. When the sun is bright and it’s around 40F degrees, horses should be pulled OFF the grass, it is at its most dangerous. The grass has stopped growing, but it has not stopped producing sugars. Grass can be up to 30% sugar at this point.
Some horses simply cannot be kept on grass. Many can function, but will have a laminitis event in the spring and fall, and it greatly compromises the feet.
Grass that is GROWING in the spring has the lowest carbs you can get.
Stressed grass, i.e. In a drought or in the cold, or over grazed (really short grass) is just like candy for them. BUT if they have to get in more steps per bite this evens it out a bit. The exercise makes up for some of the sugar.
Weeds – research each plant….but some are very high in sugar – dandelions are 50 – 60% sugar.
GRAZING MUZZLES are an excellent tool. It is hard to deal with psychologically for the horse owner. The horse will have a 2-3 day adjustment period, and it will look like they aren’t eating and that they are staring at you with disdain. But they get over it.
NEVER over graze any one spot. Divide your pastures and rotate. Or develop a track system to keep them moving and eating. Dividing also increases yield.
NEVER let grass go to seed. If you need to reseed, then just buy seed. Mowing before it goes to seed knocks grass off its reproductive cycle. You will increase the yield and lower the sugar.
For more information, please consult www.safergrass.org