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Getting Great Grass for Grazing (Horses)

Published Wednesday, 25th September 2013 in SAC Consulting news

Horse event

Horses and their pastures were the subject of a recent SAC Consulting event held at SRUC’s Oatridge Campus in West Lothian.

Over 70 horse owners gathered for the day to discover how they could best manage their grass to keep their animals happy and healthy.

The event began with a number of brief and informative talks. Helene Mauchlen, of the British Horse Society (Scotland), who co-organised the event, spoke on the subject of welfare, galloping through supervision, rugging, suitable environment and shelter.

Other speakers highlighted the issue of drainage; a major concern for those caring for horses, and nutrition was also identified as a significant factor. Unlike sheep and cattle, horse pastures need to have a low nutritional value or the animals are at risk of obesity and other health problems. David Cunningham from Dods of Haddington advised delegates on the types of grasses best for their animals: “Pretty much anything that has fescue after it [for example meadow fescue] is low nutrition and so good for your situation” he said.

Other speakers spoke about weed and worm control, equine grass sickness, and record keeping.

In the afternoon the group toured various sites around the Oatridge Campus which demonstrated some of the issues discussed during the morning sessions. The delegates were able to compare aerated and non aerated soils, view pastures that had been sprayed to get rid of buttercups and over sown with horse seed mixtures, and those that hadn’t. The machinery display also proved extremely popular.

Event organiser, Conservation Consultant Gillian McKnight, said: “The feedback identified all the topics as useful although weed control, soil testing, soil compaction and how to do surface seeding along with rotational grazing were especially useful. Furthermore those attending would also like to see more workshops on grassland management, drainage, weed control, worming, equine grass sickness and laminitis management.

“The venue was also much praised for its excellent facilities and conveniently central location. There’s another event in October at Newtonmore Riding Centre in Inverness-shire so I hope it goes equally well!”

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