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Extension > Agriculture > Livestock > Horse > Nutrition and forages > Spring pasture to-do list

Spring pasture to-do list

B. Wieland, University of Minnesota

Spring is an important time of year for pasture care. Here is a list of things you can do in the next couple months to get your pastures looking great.

  1. Plant Seed The best time of year to seed a pasture is fall. However, spring is an acceptable time of year if you missed the fall deadline. April 1st to May 15th is the best time in the spring to reseed your pastures. Make sure you keep horses off newly seeded pastures until the grasses are well established and you have mowed 2 - 3 times.
  2. Take Soil Samples See if your pastures need any nutrients. Once the frost is out and the soils have dried, samples can be taken. Contact your county Extension office or the University of Minnesota Soils Lab for a sample kit. The lab's phone number is 612-625-310
  3. Fertilize As stated in 2, test your soils first, so you know how much you need. Often, only Nitrogen is needed in pastures.
  4. Spray Herbicides Spring is a good time to spray annual weeds as it prevents them from getting established. However, mowing is usually sufficient for annual weed control unless weed densities are high.
  5. Check fences Snow and deer can be hard on fences. Check them before you turn out the horses.
  6. Plan your grazing system Think back to last year whether you had enough grass or if the horses turned the pasture into a putting green or mud pit. You may need to supplement your horse with hay during certain times of the grazing season and set aside a sacrifice area when the pasture needs a rest.
  7. Let the grass grow Keep the horses off the grass until the ground firms up and the grass has a chance to get growing. Once the grass is about 6 - 8" tall, start easing the horses onto the pasture in 15 minute daily increments (15 minutes the first day, 30 minutes the second day, 45 minutes the third day, etc...), until the time on pasture reaches 5 hours a day, after which the horse can be given unlimited access.
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