By Alexandra Beckstett
While pasture is vital to a horse’s gastrointestinal health, calorie intake, and ability to exercise and socialize, too much can lead to obesity. Ways to limit horses’ pasture intake include grazing muzzles
and reduced time spent on grass. But for horses that live outside 24 hours a day, can reducing the amount of pasture space alone affect weight?
Beverly Gartland, graduate student at Western Kentucky University, in Bowling Green, aimed to find out. She presented her findings at the 2019 Equine Science Society Symposium, held June 3-6 in Asheville, North Carolina.
In her study, Gartland evaluated eight adult horses with maintenance-level nutrient requirements and similar body condition scores.
She randomly placed four in a continuous grazing group (six weeks on a 2.2-acre tall fescue field) and four in a space-restricted rotational grazing group. Every seven days, she’d move the latter group into a new 1/3- to 1/10-acre grazing cell with only enough grass to meet 80% of their daily nutrient requirements.
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