SHOULD HORSES BE GRAZING AFTER A KILLING FROST?

In Minnesota, We all know that at some point this month, we will have frost. Eventually, we have what's called a 'killing frost,' which is defined as a frost low enough in temperature to kill most exposed garden vegetation and fruit buds'.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A KILLING FROST

For most of us, this means our flower season is pretty much over. But I ran across an interesting question that I had never asked before; even when I lived on my family's farm where we had a few horses through the years.

Photo by Moriah Wolfe on Unsplash
Photo by Moriah Wolfe on Unsplash
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IS IT SAFE?

The question posed on the University of Minnesota's Equine page was this; Is it safe for horses to graze after a killing frost?

The University of Minnesota offered some recommendations. First, they recommended keeping your horses off pastures for 7 days after a killing frost. The reasoning?  Frost-damaged pastures can be higher in 'nonstructural carbohydrates' because plants may not use up their stored carbs as efficiently as they did before the frost.

THE DANGERS OF LAMINITIS

This can lead to an increased risk of laminitis, which is incredibly painful for horses. What's even worse, is that once they get laminitis, they have an increased risk of getting it again and again. Laminitis is a condition where the pedal bone moves within the hoof, dropping into the sole of the hoof. It can be terribly painful for your horse.

Photo by chris robert on Unsplash
Photo by chris robert on Unsplash
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YOUR PASTURE CONDITION

Deciding whether or not you want your horse to graze after a killing frost, may also depend on the condition of your pasture. If your cool-season grass pasture is taller than 3 to 4 inches, then grazing can resume 7 days after a killing frost, and can continue until the pasture is grazed down to 3 to 4 inches.  If your pasture grass is shorter than 3 to 4 inches, then your horses should NOT be grazing.

This is not just for your horse but for the winter survival of your pasture. Keeping to these tips will help you have a healthier pasture for your horses to graze come spring.

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