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lexigirl

Going From All Hay To All Grass

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We are getting ready to move our horses to a new barn closer to our home. Both 8 year old barrel horses. One working, one not. They currently are in a pasture that is over used and therefore has no grass. They are on a hay bale all day and in at night. 2 grain feedings a day.

The new place has huge pastures with lush green grass. Horse who will be working will be in stall at night but out all day.( may switch that when it gets really hot out) Other horse will be transitioning to 24/7 pasture but will have a stall while we transition him. My question is, how long should they be allowed out in the pasture in the beginning and how much do we increase that time each day.

I was thinking start with 2 hours for 2 days, then 3 hrs for 2 days, and increase by an hour every 2 days until we reach 8 hours. Does that sound safe or should we go slower?

They are both alittle under weight coming out of winter. We had a very wet winter and they were in ALOT. Both have been gaining pretty fast now that they are out more and not having to work so hard to stay warm. They will have grain 2X a day at the new place but will watch closely for too much weight gain being on grass vs hay.

Any suggestions for a safe transition would be greatly appreciated.

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Well, 2 hours the first day might be too much. It just seems like a lot, if the horses have not been on lush grass, and this new pasture is LUSH!

Others will have better ideas, I'm sure. I don't worry about it with my horses because the are on pasture all the time. When the grass comes in, they start eating it, so they transition themselves. They get used to the grass as the grass comes in.

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When I transition a horse to grass, I do it over a minimum of a two week time period and I start really slow... like 30 minutes for the first time out. I also make sure to feed at least a flake of hay before they're turned out- I find they don't gorge as much.

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Ditto to barn boss. Especially if you have an easy keeper, limit their turn out as you transition.

Bumper

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I agree with barnboss as well.

Mine get sent out on to new pasture every spring, I usually just start out with 30 minutes. Then add to it slowly for a week or so until they get used to get it, much easier for them to adjust and avoid getting sick.

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Do as you like with the transition. I always just turn them out with a full belly of hay. I have turned out about 40 head so far this spring. Turned out 4 more today. I have not had any problems just kicking them out on pasture, but it sure would not hurt to transition them slowly. I also keep free choice round bales of grass hay on every pasture. It stretches out the grass and keeps the horses from getting runny. I will keep bales of grass hay out all summer, but they won't eat much of it after the grass hardens off in a few weeks.

I would, however, cut waaaay back on the grain if the pasture is lush. A single bite to keep them coming in is all they should need. If you have horses that are a little on the thin side, turn-out should not hurt them at all. If you have any easy keepers that are starting out fat, you should probably limit turn-out on lush grass as you are begging for grass founder early in the spring. I have turned out about 40 horses and brought in 5 others that I think are too fat to put on good early grass and have about 3 or 4 more that I check carefully every day for any sign of tender feet or fever in their feet.

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I had this dilemma a couple years ago when we got access to summer pasture. my horses had always been on dry lot, my vet happened to come out end of May the week before the big move, and we were moving to some super lush chest high pasture that first year.

I told him about the pasture and he said that the growing grass that is under 6 inches is the most concerning in the early spring, by late spring early summer (explained it more in the length of grass) the grass is getting older and won't be as risky. so just make sure to move them over on a fully belly (after breakfast) and that would slow them down initially and they'll do ok.

it seems to work, the horses see the grass but because they're full they graze heartily for about 15 minutes and then just start to nibble around, we check on them throughout the day the first day, they have individual pastures with a small paddock connecting so the first night we lock them in the paddocks (paddocks have a little more sparse grass), and again the next day we let them out we just check on them periodically and after that second day we call it good and they're on pasture 24/7 through sept.

another boarder that boards with us is an equine vet at a different clinic than my vet, and I remember the first year she let hers out all day also, she just used a grazing muzzle during the day and put them in the paddocks at night. after a few days she also calls it good and takes the muzzle off and lets them be.

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