How to Feed Horses Grass Clippings From the Lawn

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Feeding horses grass clippings is a very emotive subject, and much that has been written is negative. However, there are many who have fed grass clippings to their horses for years with no detrimental effects. No matter what your views, if you do decide to use grass clippings to provide interest to your horses’ diet or to encourage a "fussy feeder," you need to understand the dangers involved and how to feed them in the safest possible way.

Things You'll Need

  • Mower
  • Shears
  • Gloves
  • Rake
  • Bucket
  • Information on poisonous plants

Preparation

Consider where your grass clippings are coming from, back or front yard, and the quality of the grass--good, weed ridden, clean or rubbish strewn.

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Check that you haven’t used any chemicals, fertilizers or weed killer either on or near your lawn during the past year. If yes, DO NOT use clippings from this grass.

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Check whether there are any plants, flowers, trees or shrubs bordering your lawn that are poisonous to horses. If yes, stop here.

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Think long, and allow your grass to grow to at least 12 cm or longer before mowing or cutting. Small thin clippings can easily ball together, and your horse may choke.

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Cut your grass on a warm, dry sunny day, preferably spreading the clippings thinly on the lawn and allowing them to dry naturally and thoroughly by turning them frequently.

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Feeding

Use only two or three handfulls of fresh clippings (size of a softball), and sprinkle them on the paddock grass or mix them in with hay. This will prevent the horse from bolting the clippings and enable it to digest its feed slowly.

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Feed dried grass clippings to the horse directly but in small quantities and preferably spread thinly on paddock grass or mixed with hay.

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Stay with your horse during feeding. If it bolts the clippings, spread them in a thinner layer or remove them completely.

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Continue to observe your horse for the next couple of days to ensure there are no side effects such as laminitis or colic.

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Tips & Warnings

  • Horses have very delicate digestive systems so ALWAYS introduce new feeds/food slowly and allow the horse to get used to it.
  • Hand picked grass is more acceptable, providing it is offered to the horse straight away.
  • Never feed grass clippings by themselves, especially fresh ones.
  • Never feed clippings that have been collected in either a bucket or bag, as their heat will cause them to ferment, which can adversely affect your horse and even cause death through choking and colic. Never offer clippings to a horse that have been cut by a gasoline engine lawn mower because of contamination.
  • Lawn grass has a different chemical composition than pasture grass and should never be used as a substitute for hay or hard feed.

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