This is a question I often come across and it is commonly known as ‘Cross Grazing.’
You will find that when you graze horses with other livestock such as cattle and sheep it can be beneficial to both graze down the areas of rough grass that horses tend to avoid, and it will also reduce the weed and parasite burdens.
In the spring and summer months cross grazing can be beneficial in controlling the amount of grass available and will help prevent horses becoming overweight.
Sheep are ideal to use for cross grazing as most parasites are species specific, what do I mean by this? When grazing horses with other animals such as sheep it can help to reduce the pasture’s burden of equine parasites because sheep ingest them whilst grazing and halt the lifecycle of the parasite in question.
Equine parasites do not pose a threat to the sheep that eat them but they can potentially introduce parasites of their own to the pasture and will also need a worming programme for their own welfare.
Droppings should be removed from the pasture on a regular basis, ideally every day. This will help control the parasite burden and prevent the grass beneath the droppings from becoming sour and unpalatable.
A Pony And Some Sheep Happily Grazing at “Slindon Bottom Paddocks”. As a general rule, you will find that the combination of rotating paddocks, regularly removing droppings, using faecal egg counts and having a worming programme will result in effective parasite control. You may want to speak to your vet if you need advice on formulating an effective worming programme for your horse.
If cross grazing is to be undertaken, boundaries must not only be safe and secure for the horses but must also be suitable for the other stock. You therefore may need to add sheep fencing to your post and rail fencing. This is a square galvanised wire fencing, that comes in rolls that can be easily be tacked to your existing timber post and rail fencing. All good farm shops will carry this in stock and may well deliver to your door also.
If you have any experiences that other readers of this article may find interesting, please leave a comment below. Share your knowledge. Thank you and enjoy your horses.
The Stable Doctor
Advice is given without legal responsibility