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Sound Horsekeeping Resources

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If you have horses or other farm animals, or know someone who does, this post is for you. Keeping farm animals can be expensive. That’s why it’s so important to grow as much of your own feed as possible, and reduce your animals’ exposure to parasites to keep those vet bills down.

Did you know that parasites can’t crawl more than about 3 inches up a blade of grass? And grass that’s grazed lower than 3 inches struggles to survive, which lets weeds in. On top of that, the most nutritious grass for your animals is between 3 and 8 inches tall. That’s why experts recommend never letting your animals graze your pasture below 3 inches.

The best way to make sure that you can let your grass recover is to manage your pastures with rotational grazing. That means splitting up your pastures into smaller pieces with either permanent or temporary fencing. When your animals have grazed to the 3″ mark, you can move them to another pasture. The first pasture can then rest and recover, while sunlight and time kill parasites lurking in the grass. Be sure to harrow in any manure so that it breaks down faster, or collect it in a compost pile. With rotational grazing, you can grow much more of your own feed, saving you the cost of buying it from a grower.

You can even use rotational grazing on small pastures, so it’s not something that you have to have a big chunk of land to do.

Want to learn more? You have a couple of options. The Skagit Conservation District has trained farm planners who can help you decide how many sections to break your pasture into, and what size they should be. Every farm’s soil is different, so their expertise in how fast your grass will grow back is very helpful. Their services are completely free and confidential. They may also be able to offer financial assistance to help cover the cost of temporary fencing or other improvements you want to make to your property. You can find links to their services and fact sheets at poopsmart.org/small-farm.

If you’d rather read about it than have a visit, the Sound Horsekeeping Program in Snohomish County has an excellent set of articles covering all manner of topics, from safe grazing and horse care to managing parasites and seasonal issues. Check it out at https://snohomishcd.org/sound-horsekeeping-resources.

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