First Aid

First Aid for parched paddocks

The drought currently punishing the Netherlands is damaging crops. Many paddocks have not shown growth in weeks and are discolouring from green to yellow. As a result, horse owners no longer have grass growing in their pastures.

What can you do to protect your horse pasture against the drought?

Graze occasionally
Limiting access to the pasture during periods of drought will aid its recovery. Letting your horses graze during the evening hours benefits the grass. Keep a close eye on the condition of your horses that are kept outdoors all the time (young horses). Due to the poor supplies of grass they can quickly start to lose weight.

Mow with caution!
Mowing during periods of drought can seriously damage your pasture. If there is less than 20 centimetres of grass (2000 kg per ha), it is best to delay mowing. After mowing, grass plants use their reserves to produce new blades of grass. However, in periods of drought, the grass plant needs these reserves simply to survive. In addition, traffic on the pasture will severely burden the sward and leave tracks that are visible for a long time. If you do decide to mow, do not cut the grass shorter than 7 centimetres.

Has your grass survived the drought?
Grass can survive periods of drought. You can easily check if your grass has survived. Dig out a section of sward measuring 20 x 20 cm and place it in a water-filled container for 10 minutes. If white underground roots, or green points in the grass, appear within a few days, you can be sure the pasture will recover after the drought. If not, your pasture will probably fail to recover. Pasture renewal is the only remaining option to recover your paddock.

Watch out for rough stalked meadow grass
If new plants with a white base start to grow in in the section of sward you cut away, watch out. There is a high risk of rough stalked meadow grass and annual meadow grass developing in your pasture. Horses which graze in a paddock with much rough stalked meadow grass have an increased risk of sand colic. Rough stalked meadow grass can be combated by regular weed harrowing and by overseeding HorseMaster.

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Reseeding new grass

If you can no longer save your pasture, then reseeding with new grass is the only resort. In that case, it is important to first make your pasture free of couch grass and weeds. Ten days later, you can till your pasture and reseed. For the best result, choose HorseMaster grass seed mixtures. The grasses in HorseMaster are specially selected for horses.

 

Read more about seeding a paddock here.