Pasture management

Asked April 4, 2016, 12:16 PM EDT

We are trying to establish good pasture grass for a horse on three acres in Elbert County Colorado - north of Elizabeth. The pasture currently appears to have been overgrazed and has a lot of weed pressure. Please recommend how to to get a good pasture established i.e. recommendations for killing off existing weeds, drill seeding, when to kill or plant and what type of seed mix you recommend.

Saunders County Nebraska

1 Response

Early spring and seeding with frost in late fall are the best times. Right now works if weeds are controlled. Consider using a selective broad-leaf herbicide which will leave grass alone. Drilling grass seed is more effective and uses 40% less seed. You can broadcast seed and then harrow to cover with soil (if not rodents and birds will eat large amounts). The site must be seeded with different amounts depending on grass type. We recommend a mixture of cool-season and warm-season grasses to endure Colorado shifts in seasons. The site need a minimum of 14-15 months of rest after germination to remain stable and then wise use with no over-utilization. Unless you have irrigation or want to reseed regularly 3 acres will only provide about 3,000 pounds of "usable forage each year". An average horse will eat 30 pounds of grass per day for nutrition meaning your site probably only has about 100 "horse days" of grazing each year IF you allow the grass to stabilize before turning out (say June1). If you want the grass to persist this means that 200 days each year you will need to drylot and feed hay. An average horse on the Front Range (dryland) needs about 20-40 acres and you still have to keep them off until grass is stable.