Instore Pickup & Local Delivery


Your Cart is Empty

  • Add description, images, menus and links to your mega menu

  • A column with no settings can be used as a spacer

  • Link to your collections, sales and even external links

  • Add up to five columns

  • February 08, 2024 6 min read

    Pasture Management for Horses 

    Many horses largely depend on grazing for their nutritional needs, hence it is essential that effective pasture management strategies are implemented for your horses health and well-being. In this blog, we will explore the importance of pasture management, and delve into the best grass varieties that you can sow in your horse paddocks.

    The Importance of Pasture Management

    Proper pasture management is important for maintaining healthy, nutrient dense pastures. It involves various aspects such as soil quality, pasture maintenance, rotation, and choosing the right grass varieties. Here are some reasons why pasture management matters:

    1. Nutrition: Pastures offer a natural source of nutrition, including essential vitamins and minerals that are vital for horses' health.
    1. Exercise: Horses thrive on movement and pasture grazing allows them to engage in natural behaviors while staying active.
    1. Cost-effective: High-quality pasture can reduce the need for supplemental feeding, which can be expensive.
    1. Prevents overgrazing: Proper management prevents overgrazing, which can lead to soil degradation and reduced pasture productivity.
    1. Supports environmental sustainability: Well-maintained pastures help prevent soil erosion and improve water quality.

    Now, let's explore the best grass varieties for horses in Australia.

    1. Couch Grass (Cynodon dactylon)

    Couch grass, also known as Bermuda grass, is one of the most common and widely adapted grass species in Australia. It is hardy and drought-tolerant, making it suitable for the country's variable climate. Couch grass provides excellent grazing for horses and is known for its palatability.


    - Drought-resistant

    - Palatable to horses

    - Low maintenance

    - Stands up well to trampling


    - Can become invasive if not managed properly

    - May require regular mowing to maintain quality

    - High in oxalate so horses will require calcium supplementation

    1. Kikuyu Grass (Pennisetum clandestinum)

    Kikuyu grass is another popular choice for horse pastures in Australia. It is known for its rapid growth and ability to withstand heavy grazing. Kikuyu grass offers good nutrition and is ideal for high-traffic areas in pastures.


    - Rapid growth

    - Tolerant to heavy grazing

    - Good nutritional value

    - Thrives in various soil types


    - Can become invasive if not managed

    - Requires regular maintenance to prevent it from becoming too dense

    - High in oxalate so horses will require calcium supplementation

    1. Rhodes Grass (Chloris gayana)

    Rhodes grass is a warm-season grass that is well-suited for horse pastures in northern Australia. It offers good nutritional value and can thrive in a range of soil types. It is especially valuable in regions with hot and dry climates.


    - Tolerates drought conditions

    - Nutrient-rich

    - Suitable for hot climates

    - Low maintenance


    - May not perform well in cooler regions

    - Can become invasive if not managed properly

    1. Phalaris Grass (Phalaris aquatica)

    Phalaris grass is a cool-season grass that is well-suited for southern parts of Australia with cooler climates. It provides good nutrition for horses and can be an excellent addition to pasture mixtures.


    - Suitable for cooler climates

    - Good nutritional value

    - Tolerates heavy grazing


    - Can become toxic if allowed to seed, so it requires careful management

    - Not as drought-tolerant as some other grasses

    1. Buffel Grass (Cenchrus ciliaris)

    Buffel grass is a warm-season grass that is commonly used in arid and semi-arid regions of Australia. It is known for its drought tolerance and can provide adequate forage for horses in areas with limited water availability.


    - Excellent drought tolerance

    - Good forage quality

    - Thrives in hot and dry climates


    - May not perform well in cooler or high-rainfall areas

    - Requires careful management to prevent overgrazing

    - High in oxalate so horses will require calcium supplementation

    Couch grass, Kikuyu grass, Rhodes grass, Phalaris grass, and Buffel grass are some of the best options to consider for your horse paddocks, however it is important to consider your region's climate and specific needs. Further, if choosing grasses that are high in oxalate, remember that your horse will need to be supplemented with calcium to ensure that it is receiving the required amount of calcium per day.

    Key Aspects of Pasture Management

    Once you have chosen your grass varieties, then it is important to understand how to maintain your horse paddocks and encourage growth. In this section, we will explore rotational grazing, soil testing, weed control, mowing, and fertilizing,which are all important aspects for maintaining healthy pastures for your horses.

    1. Rotational Grazing:

    Rotational grazing is a pasture management strategy that involves dividing a large pasture into smaller paddocks or sections. Horses are rotated through these paddocks periodically to prevent overgrazing and give the grasses a chance to recover. Here's how it works:

       - Benefits:

         - Prevents overgrazing: By allowing rest periods for each paddock, you prevent horses from continuously grazing on the same area, which can lead to soil compaction and reduced grass growth.

         - Maintains grass quality: Rotational grazing helps maintain the quality and nutritional value of the forage, as horses are not allowed to consume it down to the ground.

         - Improves soil health: Resting paddocks allows for natural regrowth, improving soil structure and reducing erosion risks.

       - Implementation:

         - Divide your pasture into sections using temporary or permanent fencing.

         - Rotate horses through the paddocks based on grass height, weather conditions, and your horses' nutritional needs.

         - Adjust the rotation schedule seasonally to account for variations in grass growth.

    1. Soil Testing:

    Regular soil testing is important for understanding your pasture's nutrient levels and pH balance. In Australia, soils can vary significantly from one region to another, and soil testing helps you make informed decisions regarding fertilisation. Here's how to conduct soil testing:

       - Benefits:

         - Customised fertilisation: Soil tests provide data on nutrient deficiencies, allowing you to apply specific fertilisers to correct imbalances.

         - Cost-effective: Soil testing prevents overuse of fertilisers, which can be both costly and harmful to the environment.

         - Improved grass growth: Properly balanced soil leads to healthier, more productive pastures.

       - Implementation:

         - Collect soil samples from various locations in your pasture, following recommended guidelines for depth and frequency.

         - Send the samples to a reputable laboratory for analysis.

         - Based on the results, adjust your fertilisation plan accordingly.

    1. Weed Control:

    Weed management is essential to maintain healthy pastures, as invasive weeds can outcompete desirable grasses and reduce forage quality. Here are some weed control strategies:

       - Benefits:

         - Protects pasture health: Eliminating or controlling weeds prevents competition for nutrients and space, allowing grasses to thrive.

         - Ensures horse safety: Some weeds can be toxic to horses, so removing them helps prevent health issues.

       - Implementation:

         - Regularly inspect your pasture for weeds.

         - Identify the types of weeds present and their growth patterns.

         - Use appropriate methods such as hand-pulling, mowing, or herbicide application to control and remove weeds.

         - Monitor and re-treat as needed to prevent weed resurgence.

    1. Mowing:

    Mowing is an essential maintenance practice for horse pastures, helping to control grass height, reduce seed head production, and maintain even grazing. Here's how to incorporate mowing into your pasture management:

       - Benefits:

         - Controls grass height: Mowing prevents grass from becoming too tall, which can make it less palatable to horses.

         - Reduces seed heads: Mowing reduces the production of seed heads, which can lead to unwanted weed growth.

         - Promotes even grazing: Mowing can help maintain an even pasture height, encouraging horses to graze more uniformly.

       - Implementation:

         - Set your mower at the appropriate height to achieve your desired grass height, typically around 3 to 4 inches for horse pastures.

         - Mow during periods of active grass growth but avoid mowing too short, as this can stress the grass.

         - Remove clippings or disperse them evenly to avoid creating piles of decaying organic matter, which can attract pests.

    1. Fertilising:

    Fertilisation is essential for providing the necessary nutrients to support healthy grass growth. Proper fertilisation helps maintain pasture productivity and nutritional quality. Here's how to approach fertilisation:

       - Benefits:

         - Enhances grass growth: Fertilisers provide essential nutrients that may be lacking in your soil, promoting vigorous grass growth.

         - Improves forage quality: Adequate nutrient levels in the soil result in more nutritious forage for your horses.

       - Implementation:

         - Apply fertilisers based on the recommendations from your soil test results.

         - Use organic or synthetic fertilisers as needed, following manufacturer instructions.

         - Apply fertilisers during the growing season, typically in spring and/or early fall, but avoid over-fertilization, which can lead to nutrient runoff.

    At Oakford Stockfeeds we stock a range of pasture seeds, including those specific to equine pastures. We also stock fertilisers and paddock graders that can help you manage your pastures effectively. Come in-store and visit us today!

    Leave a comment

    Comments will be approved before showing up.