Most horses have been on the grass for a while now. At the moment, the grass has grown a lot (if not mowed) and the horses find the long grass less and less tasty. But that longer grass is healthier for the horse. Read in this blog why that is.
Grass that continues to bloom is also known as overshot grass. Long grass contains less leaf material and more stem material.
The more overshot the grass, the more fiber gets into the grass. The grass becomes a bit woodier, so the horse has to work harder to grind and digest it. The grass also becomes drier and browner in color as opposed to juicy, short green grass. The nutritional value of grass also changes during growth.
Fiber is extremely important to horses. A horse gets the most energy from fiber for all its body processes. A horse’s ration should consist of at least 50% fiber, but preferably much more.
Long grass contains more fiber than short grass. As a result, the horse should chew much more on long, overgrown grass. Chewing starts saliva production, which has a positive effect on neutralizing stomach acid. The digestive system of the horse also has to work harder to digest this stiff grass. Fiber digestion is done with the help of bacteria. So the more fiber, the more good bacteria in the digestive tract.
Short grass, on the other hand, contains little fiber, the horse does not have to do much for it, so that there is a lower production of saliva and the digestive system of the horse does not have to work as hard.
Horses do not have a full feeling in their stomach as people know it. Horses feel full because of the chewing movements. The more chewing movements, the fuller the horse will feel.
Young, short grass is richer in nutritional value than older, overshot grass. Of course, the nutritional value depends on the type of soil and fertilization.
Most of the nutritional value is in the blade of the grass. Long grass contains less leaf material and therefore less nutritional value. Long grass also contains less sugar than short grass.
Therefore, be careful with horses that are sensitive to laminitis, summer tickling or insulin resistance on short grass. A poor pasture with short grass is often considered ideal for these horses. But the fresh blades of grass that are growing abundantly are real sugar bombs. Long grass through strip grazing is often the best option for these horses.
On the other hand, an older horse, who falls in easily and / or has difficulty chewing, is more interested in a pasture with shorter grass. These horses can use the higher nutritional value and grass that requires less chewing. Therefore, take a good look at your horse’s nutritional needs.
A good way to protect horses from overeating and an abundance of sugars is strip grazing. With strip grazing you limit the amount of grass that the horse can eat because, for example, you add a small amount of grass daily. Strip grazing is also important for long grass. Eating excessively long grass is not recommended.
Strip grazing often also means that the grass is eaten tidier, so that the entire grassland is better utilized, rather than just the tasty pieces of grass being eaten.
For the majority of horses, long, pasted grass is better than short, young grass. Most horses do not need the high nutritional value and benefit from the many fibers and the low nutritional value of long grass. Because older grass also contains less sugar, this is also safer for horses that shed in the summer or are sensitive to laminitis. Older horses with dental problems often benefit more from shorter grass because these horses have difficulty chewing the stalked grass. In short, long grass is better than short grass, for almost all horses. It is recommended to use strip grazing.