Planting Winter Grazing

Planting Winter Grazing
by Charlene Cook DVM

You have probably heard me saying, “Let your land feed your horses”. It makes sense to use your pastures to feed your horses whenever possible. Now that summer has left us behind it is time to plant winter grazing.

Overseeding your pastures offers many benefits:

  • Green grass is a natural laxative. Horses with access to fresh pasture have a lower incidence of colic.
  • Green grass is more nutritious than hay, providing protein, energy and an excellent source of vitamin A. Green grass is also softer and easier for senior horses to chew.
  • Horse on pastures have fewer problems with stereotypic behaviors such as cribbing, stall walking and weaving.
  • The more green forage you have in your pasture the less hay and grain you will need to maintain your horse.
  • Your land will thank you as well. Well established crops reduce erosion during heavy rains and green fields of grass provide a welcome source of color in a bleak winter landscape.

You can plant several types of seed for winter grazing including oats, rye and rye grass. Rye grass grows like grass, does not produce a long stalk and the seed is readily available at a variety of stores. Some farm owners add clover to the planting mix.

There is a program called the Soil Conservation Program that is administered through the County Extension Service. Every county on Georgia has an office. Most counties offer a no-till planter that can be used to plant fields and pastures.

 A no-till planter is a piece of equipment that creates a tiny furrow, places the seed in the furrow and then covers the seed back over. The seed is evenly spaced and is not available for birds to scavenge. Freshly planted seed is less likely to wash away during heavy rains when planted in a furrow vs broadcasting over the top of the soil.

Meet Mr. Harvey Poole from Fort Valley , GA. Mr. Poole operates the no-till planter for the Pine Country Soil Conservation District. He travels with his equipment to plant fields in the middle Georgia Area. Other counties should have a planter as well.

You can arrange to have Mr. Poole plant your fields if you so desire. The fee for planting is $20 per acre. You will need to furnish your own seed. We recommend 40-50 pounds of seed per acre when using ryegrass.

If you have your own tractor you can rent the planter for $10 per acre. It’s a good idea for neighboring farms to go together and save on delivery fees.

This grass was planted 3 weeks ago. while we have had very little rain the moisture in the soil was enough to germinate the seed and the grass is coming up nicely.

To contact Mr. Harvey Poole - Cell 478-973-0124

I hope that you’ll consider adding winter grazing for your farm, I think you and your horse will enjoy the many benefits.