Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 2014

Ah May -- the night temperatures are finally warming up enough to where there is less risk in letting your horse graze  -- the sugar/starch levels of the grass are finally following the "rules." You know them: (1) The non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) level is lowest before dawn and (2) The NSC is at its highest, and therefore, most dangerous level late in the afternoon, especially after a sunny day where the grass has produced sugar and starch as it is exposed to sunlight.

I'm often asked is it safe to let the horses out at night.  The answer is, "most likely, yes."  Of course, there is never a guarantee. Afterall, grass is a living organism and its NSC level changes with the temperature, amount of sunlight, as well as the amount of rainfall, mowing, grazing and other stressors.  But, in general, the grass starts "burning" up its own NSC for energy once the sun starts to set. Many horse owners have had great success with putting their horses out on pasture around 9:00 pm and take them off of pasture, on to a dry lot (which free-choice, low NSC hay), around 8:00 am.  

What is your method of managing pasture-grazing during these pre-summer months?