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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Equine grazing preferences

Timothy, Kentucky bluegrass, and quackgrass were most preferred.

B. Allen, K. Martinson, PhD and C. Sheaffer, PhD, University of Minnesota

Cool season grass varieties are being marketed for use in grazing systems, but few are evaluated for palatability under horse grazing. The objective of this research was to evaluate grazing preferences and persistence of twelve cool season grasses under horse grazing.

Research was conducted in St. Paul, MN during the 2010 growing season. Four adult Quarter Horse types were grazed May through October in a cafeteria style grazing trial. Post-grazing grass removal was visually assessed to determine horse preference and percent ground cover was assessed to determine grass persistence.

Timothy, Kentucky bluegrass and quackgrass were most preferred; smooth bromegrass, meadow fescue, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and reed canarygrass were moderately preferred; and orchardgrass, creeping foxtail and meadow bromegrass were not preferred by the horses.
Tall fescue, orchardgrass, and meadow fescue were the most persistent grasses while creeping foxtail and timothy did not persist well under horse grazing. Quackgrass, perennial ryegrass, reed canarygrass, meadow bromegrass, Kentucky bluegrass and smooth bromegrass persisted moderately well.

Mixtures of fescues, bluegrass, bromegrass and ryegrass should persist under grazing while being highly preferred by horses.

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