Newbie from Brenham TX

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slightsey

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Hello everyone, I realize this is a cattle forum, but I was hoping to gleam information from those who have pastures for horses. We have been living in Brenham for 5 years now and our small 17-acre property has black gumbo soil. These last two years of drought have been really hard on our pastures, not to mention the huge holes and cracks in the clay and the danger of horses breaking a leg. We have 5 horses and a standard donkey.

We tried several years in a row to improve our pastures but two draughts in a row did not help. I had the soil analyzed recently by Texas A&M and the results came back with a deficiency in nitrate and phosphorous. With the addition of those two minerals and weeding, certain parts of the pastures are doing much better but we still have areas that are bare here and there.

For those who have horrible black gumbo soil, I would love to hear from you as far as suggestions on how to improve my pastures are concerned. I dream of green luscious pastures, but they may very much be just a dream. Thank you.
 
Old saying around here is "Stick with it when it's dry and it will stick with you when it's wet." Pretty much true. About all you need to know is keep weeds under control and don't overgraze it. It will respond nicely to fertilizer if you have pockets deep enough. Doesn't sound like it's going to need much. Nothing you can do about the cracks when it's dry. That's God's renovator at work.
 
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With 5 horses and a donkey on 17 acres, you are fighting a uphill battle. If they were cattle, I would tell you to cut back to two, maybe three. With horses, it is worse than that. The truth is they will eat everything before it has a chance to get big and seed out. Horses are very hard on pasture and your bare dirt problem will not go away and probably get worse.
About the only thing you can do would be to pen them off so you could limit graze your land.
 
Welcome.

Have yall been getting all the rain this year? I know a little north of yall and east of yall has.

This is not what you are going to want to hear but you are likely over stocked. No amount of improvement can change that. Fert, herb, grasses, etc all just help an already strong process, they won't turn the tide from bad to good.

Think of grass like a bank account. Rain is you income and your animals are you expenses. In a normal income year, normal rain, if you only have a little grass, then you are kind of living paycheck to paycheck. But, if in a normal year the animals are wading in grass, you have a lot better odds of making it through a dry year.

You might check with the extension agent or A&M for help with stocking rates. 17÷6 is 2.8ac per head, assuming all is grazable and some is not being used for a house. That is going to be a very high stocking rate for most people, even in a good year, much less a drought.
 
Thank you everyone! Sounds like reducing the herd is the best solution and I will definitely consider that especially as only 1 horse out of the 5 is mine. The rest belong to my tenant. Brute 23, yes we got a lot of rain so far, not as much as Houston/Cypress/Magnolia, etc. but nevertheless a lot more than the past 2 years. With a large backyard, the house and areas where there is only black gumbo soil, I do not have 17 acres for grazing. Good idea to check with extension agent. Thank you once again.
 
Thank you everyone! Sounds like reducing the herd is the best solution and I will definitely consider that especially as only 1 horse out of the 5 is mine. The rest belong to my tenant. Brute 23, yes we got a lot of rain so far, not as much as Houston/Cypress/Magnolia, etc. but nevertheless a lot more than the past 2 years. With a large backyard, the house and areas where there is only black gumbo soil, I do not have 17 acres for grazing. Good idea to check with extension agent. Thank you once again.
Good luck. I would like to say this is just a cycle but these drought years seem to be more and more frequent. We have had to adapt and cut back a lot just in my short life here in Texas.
 
Hello Twisted. Yes they get fed and have free access to hay. Thank you. PS: they do prefer grass right now
 
The last thing you want to do, is keep your horses in knee-deep,. lush pasture. Horse's evolved to constantly graze low-quality, marginal pasture. My vet has been named Ga Equoine Vet of the Year more than once. He was one of the pioneers in embryo transfer in horses. For years, the orthopedic surgeon for the Atlanta Falcons, would come to his clinic and sit in with him on surgeries. He told me he does this to see what procedures and protocols he as a medical doctor would be using in the next 5-10 years. I havce been at his place when some woman had brought her pregnant mare in, and I have heard them ask him if he wpould be onb caall the week she was due, to come out to the stables if the mare had problems. Every time he would say " Honey, best thing to do is put her in a pasture by herself, and then one morning she will show up at the gate with a 3 day old foal. You lock her in a stall, and sit up in the barn with her, she is gonna do everything she can to hold that foal as long as she can." I have heard him give talks, seminars, etc. and he would say " I am a wealthy man today, because of heated barns, blankets, enclosed trailers, and damned horse feed". He would say "maybe...just maybe.. if you saddled one in the morning and ran it til dark, like the Pony Express, then maybe that would warrant giving them a little grain . Other than that, free choice marginal pasture and grass hay. Leave the alfalfa for the dairy cows." He would say that horses evolved in the Ice Age, and have been having foals for thousands of years before man even came on the scene. They don't need help. And he would say "never, EVER, has it ever been cold enough anywhere in the continental US, to ever put a horse in a stall. He would say, " Don'tt belive me? Open up your barn doors and leave the stalls open., The horse will make a bee line to get outside in a blizzard. They will stand with their back to the leeward side of the barn. Keeping horses in stalls causes colic. And cribbing. He would say the same thing about enclosed trailers. He said that was the main cause of respiratory diseases in horses. Don't need blankets or enclosed trailers...the key is to keep them as cool as you can, with plenty of air flow. He had $100k calf horses, $100k heading horses, and his wife had $150k barrel horses, and they lived outside, and he hauled to rodeos in a 7'tall, 7' wide, aluminum stock trailer.

Tall, lush pasture will cause founder, especially early in the season. Fertilize your grass to specs, and spray for weeds, and keep free-choice minerals and free-choice grass hay in front of them, and they will do fine. I have had horses for 62 years, and the longest mine have ever spent in a stall, was just waiting their turn for the farrier or vet, or to be tacked up. I give them a coffee can full of oats, with biotin crumbles, corn, wheat germ, and rice bran oil in it. The oats are just a delivery system for the biotin and oils. My horses have excellent feet, shiny coats, great manes and tails. I give them this feed every day in their stall, just so they will come to the barn every time I walk down there, and they get in their own stall to wait on it.
 

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