Healthy horses primarily eat roughage as their main source of food. Roughage consists of fresh grasses and hay. Horses get their roughage by grazing in green pastures and eating grasses and herbs. They also get roughage when they are given hay and nutritional supplements. Here is the procedure to cultivate a green pasture of nutritious grasses for your horses:
- Divide the Horse Pasture: In order for your horses to eat fresh healthy grasses all year long, divide your horse pasture into two to three separate sections. Allow your horses to graze in one section for two months while you reseed and cultivate the other sections to allow new grasses to grow. Rotate your horses to another section after two months while you reseed the first section. Keep this rotation going all year long so that your horses always have fresh grasses to eat and there are always new crops of grasses growing.
- Plant Horse Pasture Seed: To cultivate a pasture of nutritious grasses, plant horse pasture seed. This seed mix consists of orchard grass, Kentucky bluegrass, timothy, fescue, bromegrass and others grasses and herbs. Horse pasture seed can be planted in fields where existing grasses are already growing. Scatter the seeds on top of the growing grasses and water them to wash them down to the earth and sprout. Horse pasture seed can also be planted on the bare earth as long as you break up the topsoil to accept the new seeds.
To ensure that your horses have a well-balanced diet, give them the following nutrients each day:
- Alfalfa Hay: In addition to fresh grasses and herbs, you can feed your horses alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay can be fed to your horses in the same pasture where they graze on fresh grasses. Cut the wire that is wrapped around the alfalfa hay bale and loosen the hay. Spread the alfalfa hay on top of the grasses in the pasture. Horses like to eat the dried alfalfa along with the fresh grasses.
- Nutritional Supplements: Small amounts of cereal grain supplements can be fed to your horses 2–3 times a day. Cereal grain supplements consist of oats, barley, corn, and other nutritious grains. You can also add fortified horse feed pellets with the grain supplements. These pellets consist of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats. Check with your veterinarian to see if your horses could benefit from eating cereal grain supplements and/or fortified feed pellets and what amount they should eat each day.
- Fresh Drinking Water: Access to fresh drinking water is important for horses because they eat so much roughage. Make sure that the water in the horse trough is clear and fresh and without any mold or mildew. Change the water in the trough as soon as it looks cloudy or you see dirt or debris.
Horses need a well-balanced diet to be healthy. You can provide this with a thriving green pasture for grazing and daily feedings of alfalfa hay and nutritional supplements. You can also give your horses an occasional apple, carrot, or celery stalk for a treat and they will look forward to seeing you every day.