Avoid overgrazing or overstocking - Overgrazed paddocks have a reduced quality of pasture and as the weeds replace grass they quickly look untidy and unkept. The environment becomes less healthy for horses, the feed value decreases and problems arise. The general rule of thumb with regards to grazing density if 2 acres for the first horse and 1 acre thereafter.
Where possible, it is a good idea for horses to strip graze behind a moveable electric fence, allowing them to be moved strip by strip. Introducing a back fence will allow re-growth on the grazed area. Any weed growth occurring behind can be addressed and all manure removed.
One of the most satisfying aspects of grassland management is keeping weeds in check to give summer pastures a boost. It simply consists of cutting unnecessary seed heads therefore stimulating vigorous growth. Most weeds don't like being cut, so topping in July before the seeds drop will result in them becoming exhausted and perish. Poisonous ragwort becomes more palatable to horses and ponies when cut and dried, so the plants should be pulled up and burnt before the clusters of yellow flowers appear.
Topping by mowing will help give a durable grass sward – this in itself is a most effective barrier to weeds.
Keeping out unwanted weeds is not so hard. Spray with a selective herbicide using a paddock maintenance contractor or use your own knapsack spray. Always take professional advice. Some weeds can be annual so when they have been cut or grazed they will not return, provided that they are cut or grazed before they head to seed.
Use Suregrow Fertiliser/CSM at the start and end of the season to maintain a thick sward.
If you have a greener view a useful tool is a pasture knife which with a regular walk around your pasture will give good control of nettles and thistles (better suited to smaller areas).
Ragwort is best dug out and burned, do not leave any roots and always wear gloves.
Grassland benefits from harrowing early in the season, dispersing mole hills, raking moss or weeds and more importantly letting air and light to the base of the sward benefiting the finer grasses.
This is for appearances, stone dispersal and water damage repair. Rolling should take place immediately after rainfall. Ground conditions should be such that tractor wheels should just leave a mark which will then be removed by the roller.
Heavily poached areas such as gateways and around feed troughs should be re-seeded using an easily established, fast growing hard wearing grass such as FAST GRASS. For larger bare areas or for re-seeding use PADDOCK GRASS.
SUREGROW FERTILISER provides the major nutrients for grazing grass growth – nitrogen, phosphate and sulphur. To optimise quality and consistency grass also needs other minerals in particular sodium, calcium and magnesium and trace elements such as Zinc, Iron, Iodine, Selenium and Cobalt. CSM contains a blend of natural minerals including Calcified Seaweed which provides over 70 minerals and trace elements and is proven to be beneficial for plan health, grass quality and soil structure. A number of these minerals and trace elements enter into the plant and can be beneficial to the health of the animals eating the grass.
We would recommend a tow ball drawn spreader or a 3 point linkage type (although the 3 point linkage type spreaders can only be used with a tractor). The tow ball types can fit onto any vehicle with a tow bar (Gator types, sit on lawn mower, quad bikes, car etc.). The hand push types are hard work and can give an uneven spread pattern on rutted ground.
If you're interested in purchasing a spreader to apply Suregrow Fertiliser or CSM we recommend the following brands.
'Logic' - http://www.logictoday.co.uk/
Logic Manufacturing Ltd has been producing top quality equipment for farming, gamekeeping and forestry for many years and since the early 90's has worked closely with the equestrian industry to provide a range of specialist products to help carry out essential tasks quickly and efficiently.
Fertiliser spreading is covered by a range of models suitable for two to two hundred acres, all of which are designed for the job and built to last. Having the ability to spread fertiliser when you want to, rather than when a contractor or friendly farmer can do the job, is worth a great deal and a lot better for your paddocks.
The range includes mounted as well as ground driven models, all of which are easy to operate and can be fitted to or towed by any suitable vehicle.
Agri Fab - http://www.agri-fab.com/
Fleming - https://www.fleming-agri.co.uk/home
A well maintained paddock will provide you with healthy horses, lower feed costs and a feeling of satisfaction!