Should You Reseed Your Horse Paddock
Each year Horse paddock owners are faced with the same question will the grass last another year or do I need reseed it. As follows we have tried to set out some of the questions you need to ask yourself when making this decision.
If you over seed an existing field, to improve it, you need to plan on keeping the horses off for at least one season i.e. plant in the spring put them back on in the autumn. If you are sowing from new ideally you would try and keep the horses of the field for the first 12 months.
Understandably there is always pressure on fields and time. Over time all fields yield and quality will get worse. It is much better to plan when to improve it rather than wait until the field is completely trashed and then find you are forced to change it then.
It is difficult to say that after a certain length of time you should improve your pasture as every field is different. But as a guide if nothing has been done to the field for more than 7 years it will probably benefit from new grasses being introduced.
Quality of field
Several factors affect the quality of grazing in the field.
Weather- Last winter we had more severe weather and many fields, especially those on heavy ground, ended up with little growing on them. The decision then is easy that they need reseeding.
Time- Grass fields are complex mixes of grass species which were originally sown to give the optimum grazing. Over time all mixtures break down. Yields and quality will reduce as less productive grasses come into the field more and more.
Stocking rates- Generally the advice is to work on at least 1 acre per horse. If you can have more acres per horse, then they will only benefit from more extensive grazing. The higher the stocking rate the more likely the field is to get run down quickly.
Our advice is that if you own the field and intend to keep a horse on it for a long time then accept that at some time you will need to reseed it. The key factor is to make sure that you have alternative grazing for the horses when you reseed the field.
Even with a small area you can still achieve this by splitting the field into two. Then reseeding one half in the spring the other in the autumn.
If you rent the field, we appreciate that it is more difficult. But because the field will get worse over time, even if you manage it well, the Landlord should be building in improving it on a regular basis. Or you may end up paying the same rent for a poorer and poorer field.
If nothing has been done to the field for a long time. We always suggest getting a soil sample tested. If there is a problem with the soil, then whatever cultivations or seed you put down may be wasted.
Best planting times are generally Mid March to Mid May or August to September. This is always weather permitting and the main guide is always plant when the conditions are right for the seeds not necessarily when you are ready to plant.
Cut the existing grass back short then harrow hard with a chain or tine harrow. Broadcast the seed about 7 to 10 kilos to the acre then roll afterwards. Keep the ground clear for one season topping it regularly or grazing it with sheep. This will encourage the grasses to tiller and grow more quickly.
New Grass Ley Cultivations
Ideally you should get the field ploughed and a good even seed bed created. It is best to broadcast the seed and roll afterwards. Ideally keep the horses off the field for up to 12 months. Again, you will need to keep it regularly topped or grazed by sheep. As well as encouraging the grasses it will also control the herbs early on.
For more advice and information contact Tim Evans on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0800 085 4399