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When should we stop grazing our pasture?

When should we stop grazing our pasture?
Q:We have had a horse grazing on our approx. 6 acre field which is normally cut for mixed grass hay. The horse has been on the field since we had it cut and baled into hay this past summer. In general, when is the best time to remove the horse so that the pasture can recover and be cut for hay again this next summer?
  1. It is best to remove animals from the field for a few reasons. 
  2. When the field is so wet that the animals start compacting the soil and plugging holes in the sod.
  3. When the animals start grazing the plants too short. Most grasses should not be grazed below the 2 to 3 inch height. That is because they store energy for regrowth in that stubble height and they need some leaf area to catch the sunlight for more energy to grow. 
  4. Usually, a good 6-8 weeks before haying is a good rule of thumb for grazed pastures to regrow for haying. But, this depends on the soil conditions (pH and fertility level) and the growing conditions (warm, moist spring). We never know what weather we will have so you could stop grazing a good 8 - 10 weeks before you plan to hay. 
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