CatWalk are thrilled to announce a partnership with New Zealand Agriseeds and present for sale a Specialist Horse Pasture Mix – made by Agriseeds exclusively for sale by CatWalk with ALL proceeds being donated towards research into spinal cord injury. Available in 25kg bags which is recommended to cover 1 hectare, the mix includes cocksfoot and brome species with a small amount of clover and horse friendly rye grass seed. Price per bag is $200 plus freight which represents excellent value for money. Seed will be available 1st of March from two North Island and one South Island distribution areas. Don’t delay – only 200 bags available! Place your order today by completing the form below, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on NZ Agriseeds and their Superior Pastures range visit www.agriseeds.co.nz
FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH: A PATURE SPECIALIST TALKS GUTS AND GOOD GRAZING – By Laura Akers*
Pasture can be a very confusing topic for horse owners.
There is a lot of conflicting comment on social media about the way grass affects horses, so here is some information to clear a few things up.
Most pastures in New Zealand are dominated by perennial ryegrass and white clover and were sown for sheep and cattle. These pasture species produce high-quality feed with a relatively low fibre content, making them ideal for growing animals and producing milk.
For the horse, however, these pastures may not be ideal. Horses by nature are hind gut fermenters, so they do well on high-fibre diets.
As well as having relatively low fibre, ryegrass also tends to be high in sugars, also known as water soluble carbohydrates (WSC), particularly during spring and autumn. We usually see the results of this displayed as exuberant behaviour and spookiness in our riding horses, but it can also be a serious problem with easy keepers (like my own horse), contributing to laminitis.
Another important characteristic in a ryegrass pasture to consider for horses is endophyte. Most of the perennial ryegrasses available contain an endophyte, this is a type of fungus which lives in the plant and helps protect it from overgrazing and insect attack. Different endophytes produce different chemicals which can affect the health of animals grazing them – unfortunately, horses are one animal that can be very sensitive to the effects of endophyte.
Pastures which are grazed very low – as is the case with many horse pastures – pose the biggest risk, as endophytes are usually most concentrated in the base of the grass.
What does this mean for our horses, which are sensitive animals? Grazing older ryegrass pastures which contain standard endophyte can lead to problems with grass staggers and heat stress.
The good news is there have been major advancements in endophytes in recent years and standard endophyte is not widely sold anymore. We now use novel endophytes, which produce different chemicals and are safer for animals.
In particular, pastures with AR1 endophyte are very safe for horses, not producing lolitrem B (which causes staggers) or rgovaline (which causes heat stress). NEA2 endophyte is also safe as it produces low levels of both of these alkaloids.
You can help prevent your horse from getting staggers on older pastures by grazing longer grass and providing hay and hard feed, particularly in summer when the pasture is not growing as much and may be stressed under dry conditions.
Ultimately, however, renewing your pasture with safe horse-friendly forage species is your best option. This year Agriseeds is pleased to support CatWalk Trust who are selling their own seed mix, specifically for horses. Included in the mix are brome, cocksfoot, and small amounts of low endophyte ryegrass and white clover. Brome and cocksfoot contain no endophyte and are higher in fibre content than ryegrass.
For information on how best to establish your new pasture please visit www.agriseeds.co.nz
*Laura Akers is lower North Island agronomist for Agriseeds and rides in Show Hunter classes and Dressage.