Spring is right around the corner and with temps slowly rising each week, there is hope for all that green grass and warmer days are close by! If you are like most farm owners and equestrians in Maryland thanks to an unusually-warm winter, your pastures have been transformed into giant mud pits. So what can you do to maximize your spring growth this year?
Thanks to an article from the University of Minnesota Extension program, here are a few spring pasture to-dos which can help you get the best use out of your fields for not only springtime but the rest of the year. (Note: we take our pastures very seriously at Southwind and do everything we can to ensure our horses are happy and healthy year-round! www.southwindfarminc.com)
Take a look at the excerpt from the article below:
Plant seed- "The best time of year to seed a pasture is fall. But, spring is an adequate time if you missed fall seeding. April 1st to May 15th is the best time in the spring to reseed your pastures. Keep horses off newly seeded pastures until the grasses become well established and you’ve mowed two to three times.'
Take soil samples-'Test your soil to see if your pastures need any nutrients. You can take soil samples once the frost is out and the ground is dry.'
Fertilize-'Test your soils before fertilizing, so you know how much you need. Often, pastures only need nitrogen.'
Control weeds- 'Spring is a good time to spray annual weeds to prevent them from establishing. Mowing is usually sufficient for annual weed control, but an herbicide may be needed with large numbers of weeds.'
Check fences- 'Snow and deer can damage fences. Check all fencing before turning out your horses.'
Plan your grazing system- 'Think about your pasture’s health from last year. Did you have enough grass or did the horses turn it into a putting green or mud pit? You may need to provide your horse with hay during certain times of the grazing season, and set aside a sacrifice area when the pasture needs rest.'
'Feed your horse their normal hay diet before turning them out to pasture during the first several grazing events of the year (along with the time restrictions). This will prevent rapid eating of pasture grasses, thus preventing digestive upset and laminitis (Original article here)."