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8 Tips for Fall Pasture Care for Horse Owners

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
September 27, 2017        
Source:  Emily Wilmes, Extension Educator-Livestock
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

8 Tips for Fall Pasture Care for Horse Owners
By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (09/27/2017) — Fall is officially here, and it is quite possibly the busiest time of year for farmers, and there are so many things to be thinking about and doing!  While many of us think about crops and harvesting them, fall is also an important time of year for pasture care, especially for horse owners.  Let’s review the Top 8 Fall Pasture Tips for horse owners, I think you’ll find some good tips to keep your pasture looking great and giving it a boost for next year. 

1. Seed Pasture Grasses- mid-August to mid-September is the best time of year to seed or reseed your pastures because there is usually adequate moisture, less weed competition, and cool, desirable weather conditions.  However, frost seeding in the later fall can be successfully done as well. 
2. Take Soil Samples- See if your pastures need any nutrients. Anytime from now until the ground freezes is a good time to take samples because the soils are drier and more stable.
3. Dispose of Manure- If you are going to fertilize your pastures with manure, sample the manure first so you know how much you should spread.  Only spread manure on your pastures if you have more than 2 acres per horse. Nevertheless, it’s nice to remove your manure pile once a year.
4. Fertilize- Use compost or a commercial fertilizer and drag manure piles in your pasture. As stated above, test your soils first so you know how much you need.
5. Weed Control- If you want to control perennial weeds with an herbicide, now is the time. Perennial plants are storing nutrients for winter in their roots. As the nutrients go into the roots, so will the herbicide, giving the best chance for a successful kill.
6. Check fences- Make sure your fences are in good shape before the snow flies. Pay special attention to posts, and fix any broken posts before they are frozen into the ground.
7. Rest The Pasture- If you have a pasture that is over-grazed, rest it for the remainder of the year. This will give the grass a chance to store up nutrients for next year, so the pasture will be healthier in the spring. On average, a pasture needs 30 days of rest after 1-2 weeks of grazing.
8. Move Animals During Frosts- Hoof traffic after a frost can damage grasses. Have a sacrifice area set aside where the horses can be held until the grass thaws.

These 8 tips can help keep your horse pasture in tip-top shape.


Emily Wilmes
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems - Livestock
(320) 255-6169
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