Grazing livestock on pasture is an effective way to meet nutritional needs if done properly. However, it is important to understand the needs of the pasture vegetation and soils as well as those of the grazing animals. This interaction has been studied in many livestock species, but data is lacking for horses. Equine recommendations cannot be extrapolated from other livestock data because horses exhibit different grazing behavior, such as biting plants closer to the ground and choosing plants more selectively than other species. These behaviors have different environmental impacts than those of other livestock species. This project will investigate the role of grazing system on the interaction between pasture plants, soil, and grazing horses. Rotational grazing is often recommended but not widely adopted in the horse industry in the Northeast. This project will measure the effect of grazing system on plant production, soil quality, animal health, and production costs by grazing horses in one continuous system and one rotational system for a period of approximately two years. Plant production will be measured by vegetative cover, species composition, available forage, and nutritional composition of the forage. Soil quality will be measured by soil fertility, bulk density, and water infiltration. Horse health will be measured by body weight, body condition score, rump fat depth, and voluntary movement. The economics of each grazing system will be analyzed by comparing production costs and documenting how much additional feed horses need when pasture forage is insufficient.
|Effective start/end date||8/1/14 → 3/30/18|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))