I have had a fantastic break over the Christmas period with a couple of lazy days catching up on much needed reading – for myself for a change 🙂
In particular I have been wanting to find out more about pasture management and ensuring that what my four-legged feathered friends are offered is exceptionally nourishing and very good for them, but most importantly not going to kill them. So I have been reading about grass.
I must admit though, I really wasn’t keen to get into this. Dreaded it terribly, thinking that it would be like watching grass grow; full of long unpronounceable botanical names etc. I’m not really the scientist type.
It was anything but, so I thought I would share. After reading through these works and chatting with some experts I now feel thoroughly informed and armed with both nutritional and pasture management knowledge.
Feeding Horses in Australia a guide for horse owners and managers by Kohnke, Kelleber and Trevor-Jones.
I have this one in hard copy which is really handy because it is a huge book. You can order the hard copy book online. I have seen it advertised in stores for $100 + but you should be able to pick it up for $45 plus delivery.
If you’re anything like me, it’s not enough for you to just blindly feed hay to your horses. You want to know which hay, and why, what does it contain, what doesn’t it contain, how old is too old, how dry is too dry, and the impact of external factors such as transport and storage on its quality? How are you going to know that they are getting enough, and do you even need to feed hay at all? Why isn’t what’s growing straight out of the good old fashioned ground enough????
Further though, finding local information particular to our unique climate and environment is very challenging. “Feeding Horses in Australia” gives easy to read and practical advice on everything from principles through to rations, supplements and poisonous plants – of which we seem to have an endless supply!
It can be quite difficult to discern between the fancy marketing from vendors and manufacturers designed to make you buy their particular products, and what is really the best nutritional feed for your horse. Reference texts like this one are invaluable and sadly hard to come by.
It contains fantastic information for owners of all types of horses; specific to mares, empty, pregnant or lactating, vs stallions or geldings, horses of all different ages, working horses vs paddock ornaments. An awesome map of Australia indicating where trace element deficiencies in the soil are known to occur is also included, as well as other maps with vital local information.
So, now I had a good idea what to feed my horses, and what was probably missing from their diet from pasture grazing, the next question was what can I do to my pastures myself to help reduce my cost of buying feed for the crew.
I was referred to Jane Myers by the fabulous team at Diamondvale Pasture and Farm Improvements. If you want to chat with professionals about improving your pastures, these guys are the bomb! Diamondvale Pastures service South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Scott and Fiona Edwards know their stuff backwards and you will be in a far better place having them create a plan for your property and if you like, manage the entire improvement for you. It’s a brilliant service for the horse owner who also works full time and doesn’t have the time or experience to really look after their pastures themselves.
Not wishing to venture to the shops with the thousands of sale shoppers, I looked for Jane Myers books online. (Love my iPad!) I was able to buy and download a number of her books from the Google Play site as well as a few of her White Papers from her own site Equiculture in PDF format so I could read them in iBooks. It makes accessing books soooo easy. Also means that I can easily highlight and make notes on bits that I love, read in the dark, or take it with me around the paddocks to help me easily identify weeds or grasses (ha I sound like a right grass nerd now!)
The Jane Myer’s book and White Papers I eagerly devoured were:
Horse Pasture Management (paper)
Understanding Horses and Pasture (paper)
Jane explains in these works in detail the delicate balance of how horses and pastures co exist and how to ensure sustainability through good pasture and waste management. Please be patient if you wish to contact Jane or her husband Stuart. Jane has been unwell and is in a process of recovery at the moment. Her and Stuart will be in Australia in February for some seminars – watch their website for more information.
It is one thing to have years of experience caring for and feeding horses, it is another altogether to have years of informed experience. It is far better for you and your horse to learn from other’s knowledge and mistakes than your own. Arm yourself with this information and you are a long way to ensuring your horses are healthy and well fed!