Spring greens for horses

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By Levi Berg

Ag agent

Spring is almost here, and guess what? That means cool season grasses will be exploding with growth.
The spring growth provides excellent forages for horses, but the quick change in diet can cause issues in your horses. Horses that have been fed hay all winter have adapted their gut microbes to break down more fibrous material, and the lush pastures are low in fiber compared with cured hay. This means that the spring lush pastures can easily upset your horses’ stomachs because the horse was not accustomed to eating fresh pastures for months.
Below are a few tips to help transition your horses from a mainly hay diet to a more pasture diet.
• Restrict the grazing time. Allow horse on the new pasture for 20 minutes the first day and increase the grazing time by five minutes per day over the a few weeks.
• Feed hay immediately before horses are turned out on pasture. This will fill their stomachs, so they do not gorge themselves on the lush pastures.
• Supplement grazing with hay. During early grass growth, the amount of fresh forage might be thin, so the horses might exhaust the grass for a short time. During this short time, they might start ingesting weeds to meet their energy needs, so feeding hay can help alleviate the potential for weed consumption.
• Avoid grazing early spring pasture. The quick change from hay to forage can upset the stomach and cause significant issues. Lush pastures are high in sugars, and too much sugar can cause a horse to founder or go lame.
• Use a grazing muzzle. The grazing muzzle will slow down the horse’s consumption of lush pasture, and will help prevent spring weight gain.
These tips will help your horses adjust to the new pasture and hopefully prevent your horse from having a stomach ache.
 Information was obtained from Christine Skelly, Michigan State University.

Gardening Series

Spring is right around the corner, and garden planning should be in the works. The Henry County Extension office will host a gardening series about preparing a garden, fruit production, vegetable production and managing garden pests.
This series will take place on March 24, March 31, and April 7, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the 4-H Building at the Henry County Fairgrounds. Dr. Strang, the University of Kentucky Fruit Production specialist, and Walt Reichert, Shelby County horticulture technician, have also agreed to assist me on teaching the series. If interested, please RSVP with the Henry County Extension Office at (502) 845-2811.

Upcoming Farmers’ Market Events

The next few weeks hold a few different events for those wanting to participate in the Henry County Farmers’ Market. First, on March 16 at 6 p.m. at the Henry County Extension Office, a WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Training will be held. This training enables vendors to accept WIC coupons for their produce.
Also directly after the WIC training, we will be offering a final Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program training for vendors looking to accept Senior FMNP coupons. Finally, on March 21 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Henry County Extension Office, we will hold a scale certification day. This is where farmers’ market vendors can bring their scales to be certified by Kentucky Weights and Measures.
Vendors must have a certified scale in order to legally sell produce by weight.