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Horse Pasture Pleasers For Spring

10 Tips For Managing Your Pasture

1. Break it up.

Holes, ruts, erosion gullies and compacted areas aren't conducive to plant growth, are unsafe, invite weed competition, and just look bad. A heavy drag, disc or harrow can produce a nice seedbed and break up compacted areas allowing water to infiltrate and cycle pathogens and nutrients for plant growth.

2. Hold the fertilizer.

On cool season grasses, hold off on later spring nitrogen unless you need to thicken up a stand with early spring nitrogen.  Excessive nitrogen discourages clover and can increase endophyte levels in some fescue. Too much growth in later heat causes stress that respires the grass tops relative to the roots and shoots.

3. You can be in clover.

Some horse owners don't prefer white clover or legumes, and horses preferentially graze quality grasses. Yet these clovers and other legumes provide quality grazing, produce natural nitrogen and can offset some of fescue's ill effects. Encourage by clipping or grazing tall grass in the spring, hold off on nitrogen that stimulates the grass.

4. Rescue from fescue.

Most pastures have some and others have all fescue. Fescue is the least preferred new seedings. Special situations with brood mares and foals require fescue control. But, it grows nearly year round. To establish quality tall grass alternatives completely eliminate fescue in dedicated areas first. Good choices are orchardgrass, ryegrass or low or friendly endophyte fescue.

5. Too rich.

In spring, before tall grasses reach 8-10 inches, their rich sugar and starch content can nearly be equivalent to grain. Delay grazing or only allow sensitive horses to graze for short periods. Once the plant starts to shoot a flower bud, the fiber and lignin content increase naturally to provide a good balance of nutrients.

6. A time for all weeds.

Early spring weeds should be controlled before they're easily spotted. Control winter annuals like chickweed in March, spring blooming perennials like buttercup in April, summer annuals like spiny pigweed in May and June, and summer blooming perennials like horsenettle in June or later.

7. Fence, fence and more fence.

Horses need exercise so there is a limit to restricting paddock size to manage plant growth with grazing. If you have no cross fencing, start small and simple. One restricted paddock can produce a lot of feed and you'll have no problem getting your horse to graze a new area of stockpiled spring growth. Just like mowing a lawn, give it a rest when leaf area is down to 2 inches.

8. Clip and save.

It's ironic that you have to clip excessive spring growth to promote more growth. But, when the lower leaves start dying and turning yellow, the plant can't produce any more canopy and has maxed out – the plant then starts to decline without cutting or grazing. Clip early and don't let a lot of grass "windrow" to choke out new growth from the base of the plant.

9. Water, seed and dirt.

If you need to reseed cool season grasses, hold off unless your new seeds only need water and dirt. If it gets hot and dry, the seed won't sprout or the new seedling is stressed. Putting seed in existing, heavy sod or weeds will not let it grow. If you want new grass or to overseed existing pasture, you need to eliminate weeds or undesirable grasses first. Bare dirt or a sparse population of existing grass make seeding more successful without special equipment like a no-till drill.

10. Make hay the easy way.

Every day of good grazing is a day of not feeding hay. Any and all of these suggestions can help to make your own hay without using equipment, harvesting, hauling and storage. That's quite a discount on your hay purchases from a little time invested in managing the pasture.


Managing Pasture During Drought Conditions

A prolonged dry spell can be a horse or cattle owner's worst nightmare. Besides limiting a pasture's forage output, drought makes pasture plants more sensitive to the effects of overgrazing and trampling from hooves. Lack of rain can also lead to an increase in weeds—some of which may be toxic to animals—that compete with desired grasses.

Although they can't control the weather, pasture owners can reduce a drought's impact on their land. The basic principles of good pasture management also apply in drought conditions, and, in fact, the importance of these principles only increases during dry weather.


Reasons for Poor-Quality Pecans

Pecans (Carya illinoensis spp.) can be planted and cultivated in any soil in South Carolina aside from poorly drained soil, hardpan or stiff clays, or thin sands with a high water table. Trees should be spaced at least forty feet apart to provide sufficient room for future growth, good air circulation and light exposure. When selecting a tree for your landscape, a cultivar with good disease resistance is the most important factor to consider. Other crucial considerations include yield potential, nut size and quality, bloom or pollination type, precocity or age the tree begins to bear, and time of nut harvest.

There are a multitude of reasons why a pecan tree may fail to produce either the quality and/or quantity of nuts desired. This fact sheet will cover the most common reasons for poor production (quality and quantity) of nuts.


Common Chicken Problems

What To Watch Out For

Maintaining a backyard flock offers great rewards, but it's not always easy to keep your chickens stress-free — especially when they're young. Understanding the environmental, nutritional and pest threats your chicks may encounter and knowing how to react to these challenges will ensure your chicks grow to be healthy, producing hens.


Creating a Habitat for Wildlife Watching

Wildlife watching is a pastime enjoyed by millions, and with some simple land management knowhow, it's a hobby you can bring into your own backyard. Besides the recreational value provided, landscapes designed to attract wildlife can increase property values, help prevent outbreaks of plant diseases and reduce levels of nuisance insects, which are eaten by different wildlife species.

First, you'll want to get to know your land. Next, consider the four basic needs your land can provide to wildlife: space, shelter, food and water. By ensuring these elements suit local wildlife, you'll increase the attractiveness of your land to a variety of species.


Controlling Fire Ants

Fire ants are indigenous to the U.S. However, the accidental introduction of Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant) into Mobile, Alabama on a cargo ship during the 1930s, the introduction of Black imported fire ants, and now a hybrid species of fire ants has changed the playing field in terms of control. The imported species and hybrid ants are still a research work-in-progress.

In all, fire ants infest hundreds of millions of acres, and the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) projected infestation map predicts that red imported fire ants will eventually be coast-to-coast right across the south. The USDA introduced a quarantine program for imported fire ants in the 1950s.

Fire ants can travel long distances when mated queens land on cars, trains, trucks, or are even carried on the wind. The aggressive ants, whose collective stings can be fatal, are causing major disruption to farming activities from workers in the fields to vulnerable livestock with infestations making some pastures effectively unusable.


Preventing Grass Tetany In Cattle

As the days start to get longer  and spring nears, it’s time to start guarding your herd against grass  tetany.  Most frequently occurring in the  spring, grass tetany incidents often follow a cool period (45-60°F) when grass  is growing rapidly.  Early grass growth  may be high in potassium and low in magnesium.   This excess potassium can interfere with magnesium absorption in cattle  resulting in tetany.


Hay Testing and Soil Testing for Forage

The principle of testing is the same: know what you've got since looking at a bale of hay or an acre of ground doesn't tell all. Hay with a low proportion of leaves to stem can't provide the balance of energy, protein, minerals and fiber. Soils needing lime that test low in potassium and phosphorus will produce only a fraction of yield under drought or plant stress. When Mother Nature provides the rain and sun for plant growth then a fertile, productive soil responds to produce pastures of plenty. That reduces your hay purchases and gives you the best quality "hay": natural, selective grazing by your horse.