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Feeding grass clippings

From: Jennifer

Hi Jessica,

I don't have a horse yet, but my husband and I are getting our acreage set up for horses and we hoping to buy two in the summer. We have 4 acres near Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I've read many different opinions on feeding grass clippings. We have an acre of lawn around the house, and we don't want the grass to go to waste. We can't let the horses graze by themselves because we have apple, crabapple and chokecherry trees that could be poisonous. The grass is mostly wild prairie grasses, with a little wheat and very few weeds. We don't put any chemicals on it. If we cut it, let it dry on the ground, and then feed it to the horses, would that be okay? I don't want to take a chance on harming our horses, we can always just compost the clippings.

Thanks

Jennifer


Hi Jennifer! You might be able to get away with feeding grass clippings under those circumstances, but I'm going to advise against it anyway. ;-)

This is why: the biggest problems with feeding clippings are chemicals, fermentation, and choke. You don't use chemicals, so that's not a problem. Letting the grass dry on the ground, like hay, would probably eliminate any risk of fermentation. But CHOKE could still be a problem, and this is why: it's too easy for horses to take a big mouthful of clippings and compress it into a wad that can cause a physical blockage of the esophagus. It's not worth the risk. Horses that are grazing can only tear off so much grass per mouthful, so they aren't in danger from short grass; horses that are eating hay are dealing with long, fibrous strands, so they aren't at risk of creating a solid wad of compressed short pieces of grass.

Your lawn may be a great place to hand-graze your horses occasionally, but I wouldn't feel safe recommending that you feed grass clippings.

Ask your veterinarian what he recommends, and if he has other suggestions, follow them! ;-)

Jessica

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