Managing winter grazing - what would you do?

Perissa

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Both horses are very good doers so I have been strip grazing them. For the first time ever I have had standing water in my winter fields due to this lovely weather we are having.

The problem is that they are spending all their time grazing the 2ft strip that I have given them so turning the ground where they are standing into mush. But, at least, this way they are getting some fresh grazing daily but seriously trashing the field.

Or do I remove the strip grazing fence allowing them access to a much larger area so they are roaming and grazing and aren't standing in the same area and turning it into mud? But they will get through the grazing a lot quicker this way and I could end up feeding hay. The ground won't be so poached and recover quicker.

The ground is totally waterlogged and is clay.

What would you do and why?
 

touchstone

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I use a track/strip graze during the summer, but open up the whole area in winter, it means the poaching tends to just be around the trough/stable/gate areas.
 

katie_southwest

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Iv opened my field right up for my 2, yes they ate all the grass quicker...but it's hardly trashed at all. Just where the shelter is , and that would of been anyway.
 
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OP - I was doing the same with my 2 up till around 12 days ago when I then took up the tape, the field has been better since as they have been like free-range fuzzies & picking their way across instead of line-munching-trashing.
However from yesterday, I have now put my 2 into a small half acre paddock with hay instead in daytime (6am to 6pm). Reason being its a lot drier & has a shelter in too.
I shall put them back in the proper winter field as soon as we have had a couple of nights of frost to harden it up a bit.
 

Perissa

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They are in roughly half an acre each (seperate fields but same problem). They fields are rested for about 8 months of the year. Because of the drought the last few years I actually fertilised my fields this year and it hasn't really stopped raining since! Because of this there is a LOT of grass in them, standing 2-3 ft high where the rain hasn't lashed it down.

They could both do with losing weight really and already have 12 hour soaked hay at night - they come in at night, and very small feeds just to allow supplements.

I have 6 and a half acres all together and 3 of those have not been grazed at all this year due to the amount of grass I've got!!!
 
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Adopter

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Mine have run of field and paddocks, the paddock nearest house they only had access two this month so still grass on it and has stables in for them to retreat into if they wish.

Although I am at 1000ft with moorland grass, it is still growing so yearlings are really not bothered with hay when offerred getting plenty off the grass. Although the field has been a water course and had standing water in recent weeks it still looks good and is not churned up. I had hardcore put down in gate ways many years ago so it is grassed over now and takes the weather and use really well.

I will have to restrict grazing in summer but in winter I like the ponies to have as big an area as possible to keep moving and find best shelter depending on direction of wind/weather etc.
 

Honey08

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I wouldn't strip graze per se, but section the field up into two, let them eat one half down (the bit with less grass on) and save the untouched field until later in the winter and the bad weather.
 

MillionDollar

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I would always make sure you don't use a portion of it, so you save it for summer (probably 50%). I prefer giving them a larger area, especially if it has good grass coverage. Strip grazing really doesn't work when it's this wet.

However, I went to a Grass Management course a year ago and the guy who was running it said the best way to manage small paddocks is to strip graze BUT you also move a back fence too. So everyday you move a few posts a few feet onto new grass, but you also move a fence behind them a few feet. That way you constantly moving up and down the paddock, resting it as you go along behind them. I haven't tried it, but it does make sense.
 

giveitago

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Yep, we're waterlogged too!

Im having to keep one in overnight so his feet dont disintigrate.

If you have enough fencing, I'd break it into quaters and let them trash in rotation.

This summer we shall be putting better drainage in the paddocks so fingers x for next year.
 

Perissa

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I would always make sure you don't use a portion of it, so you save it for summer (probably 50%). I prefer giving them a larger area, especially if it has good grass coverage. Strip grazing really doesn't work when it's this wet.

However, I went to a Grass Management course a year ago and the guy who was running it said the best way to manage small paddocks is to strip graze BUT you also move a back fence too. So everyday you move a few posts a few feet onto new grass, but you also move a fence behind them a few feet. That way you constantly moving up and down the paddock, resting it as you go along behind them. I haven't tried it, but it does make sense.
I have seperate fields for summer and winter grazing, they all get rested for at least half a year.
 

BBH

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Personally I'd open up more, I don't think you need strip graze and trash with the amount of land. The grass may be ok at the moment but not nutritional for much longer. You have enough land to put them elsewhere for the spring / summer and allow this winter paddock to recover.

You will probably hay them outdoors soon anyway.

PS

I am in a similar area to you and although I don't have clay land it is the first year I have had pools of water lying. Never known a year like it for rain.
 

spotty_pony

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If they are in eating hay all night and need to lose a bit of weight ideally, then I wouldn't bother sectioning off the field they are in as it it is only half an acre - let them have it all so t o save the ground as much as possible. The grass will hardly be growing now anyway now it has gone colder so there isn't much point in strip grazing. When the field is really muddy, rest it and fence off a small section of some of your other grazing. Ideally, if you have so much extra grass you should have got a cut of hay off it before it got too wet but as it is now too late, I would just let them eat it down (in half acre sections) as grass won't have much nutritional value at all at this time of year so it is a good time to get on top of it before next Spring when it grows again! I would seriously consider using some of it for hay next year though to prevent this problem again, or why not rent some of it out as Grass Livery and earn yourself some extra cash?
 

Mongoose11

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Definitely open up the paddock and stick a muzzle on each of them? Mine needs to keep her weight down and colics easily on long wet grass so she will have her muzzle on all winter. Unfortunately due to an abundance of grass at this yard (which we love) she will also wear it for the rest of the year :rolleyes:
 

Jericho

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I wouldn't strip graze per se, but section the field up into two, let them eat one half down (the bit with less grass on) and save the untouched field until later in the winter and the bad weather.
I do this too. I was gradually opening the field up by strip grazing but it was getting trashed so I just moved the fencing halfway across. My grass is high as well but its really not great quality so not too worried about them putting on weight. The good thick sward stops too much poaching and less skdding around. The part of the field they were on was very short grass - is very slippy and very muddy. The part of the field with the thick grass in seems to be better drainage too and their hooves are just wet and cleanish rather than wet and muddy.
They are ignoring any hay I put out and am hoping that this year I will actually get by with just grazing and a smaller amount of hay if they want it!
 

Jesstickle

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I wish I had some field rotation. Ours is bare as bare, tiny and trashed and it's only December. We have to use the same one all year too so no chance of it recovering.

I hate being at livery :(
 
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