The Healthy Land, Healthy Horse Field Day was a fascinating day packed with information for horse owners. Geoff and Mark from Manna Park Agistment Center in Bywong provided a beautiful setting for Stuart Myers from Equiculture to share the Equiculture system of horse management. A range of topics were discussed from horse biology to the importance of maintaining a diversity of plant species on farm for grazing.
Some key messages were:
- Horses thrive on a high fibre, low energy diet.
- Encourage biodiversity. Plant and encourage a wide variety of plants and pasture species on your grazing land. Horses are adapted to using various herbs and shrubs in their diet. A varied diet can have medicinal benefits for the horse and helps diversity on the farm. Encourage remnant vegetation by fencing it off and planting shelter belts of native trees.
- Running horses as a herd allows pastures to be managed productively. By using rotational grazing and planning paddock management, horse owners can reduce their reliance on supplementary feeding.
- Focus on ‘grass farming’ by improving your knowledge of pasture species and encouraging them to self seed and proliferate. Horses can be used to spread mulch and beneficial pasture seeds by feeding them on bare areas of soil.
- Use the ‘stubby test’, graze the pasture when it reaches the height of a stubby standing up and stop grazing when the stubby reaches the height of the stubby lying down.
- Native grasses can be very beneficial to horse health and provide the low energy diet they need.
- Concentrate key activities in specially designed areas eg. covered feeding areas and multi-use surfaces (grassed arenas that can be used for training and grazing). Watering points at a central site can reduce set up costs and encourage horses to get more exercise.
Some useful links and resources:
This field day is made possible with funding from the Australian Government. We also thank the following for their contribution:
- ACT Regional Landcare Facilitator and ACT NRM with funding from the Australian Governments National Landcare Programme.
- Future PLANS and Small Farms Network Capital Region – volunteer committees.
- Geoff, Mark and volunteers from Manna Park Agistment Centre.
The Small Farms Network will be hosing another horse field day in 2017. Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know about our events.