Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Animal Health › Grazing Rye/Vetch with horses?
- June 16, 2013 at 10:41 am #79882TimBMember
It’s happened again: the weather didn’t permit my plowing the rest of our rye/vetch cover crop quickly enough and it’s gotten quite thick. In the past, I tried mowing it, but this left a swath of plow clogging residue. I also plowed through the thick stuff while it was standing last year, but that was plow clogging too. So, I’m considering grazing it down.
Has anyone grazed rye/vetch with their horses? Any opinions on possible digestive issues? Our 4 horses get a lot of pasture and have a varied diet. Grazing this rye/vetch would be nights and weekends, with hay and some grain during the weekdays…June 16, 2013 at 9:23 pm #79884JayParticipant
I graze my horses 2 hours morning an evening – intensive rotational grazing on 1-2 foot high grass – I think in effect it is mob grazing as I put them on very small areas at a time. Using sheep netting I put 3 adults in an area 1 post (sheep net post) wide by 6 posts long and a single horse in an area 1 post by 3 posts. I am still giving them a flake of hay each at night after grazing, just to keep enough roughage in the system (we’ve had gas colic problems in the past). The rye would be fine for them in shorter time frames would be my take – I’m not sure about the vetch – depends how thick it is. If it’s thick I’d want to make sure it was buffered with some coarse hay and the time on the vetch limited to a few hours after having gotten used to it. JayJune 16, 2013 at 10:08 pm #79885EliParticipant
I graze my horses all the time and if i think it is to rich I feed a little hay. The more lush it is the more dry hay I feed and no grain. I rotationally grazed my dairy cattle for the first five years I farmed. You should be able to find info on estimating forage quality from your local ag agent. I got a ton of info on grazing from them years ago. EliJune 16, 2013 at 10:45 pm #79886dominiquer60Moderator
Here is a discussion on anther couple forumsJune 18, 2013 at 9:28 am #79919bendubeParticipant
Vetch has killed cattle when they feed on it in large amounts over a moderately long period (more than a week.) I believe it is less toxic to horses, and it certainly would be subject to a lot of dilution (hay, grain, and the rye.)
If this issue concerns you and you think you might want to graze cover crops in the future, crimson clover could replace hairy vetch.
We grazed down our rye with the cattle this year, and that worked quite well for us.January 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm #82165Goranson FarmParticipant
I know horses aren’t milking cows but I had a bit of trouble with grass tetany induced milk fever when I tried grazing my families cover crop of winter rye with my small herd of milkers. Winter Rye is low in magnesium which is required for a cow to metabolize calcium. This was even with a mineral supplement in my Jerseys grain and hay. Grazing rye also caused this same cows milk to smell exactly like rotting fish. Its mind blowing how drastic an impact the diet of an animal has on the flavor of the milk they produce.
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