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Discussion on Clover in Pasture

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jacque
New Member
Username: jessam

Post Number: 4
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2008 - 7:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Our pasture is becoming overgrown with white clover and patches starting of purple clover. I cant seem to keep up on all the nutrition news of what is too much or not enough. How much harm in too much clover is there? Ive been limiting their time on this pasture, but dont have the funds to spray it all just yet, to get rid of it. There are other grasses, but I have noticed they spend time in one spot. Mostly all clover! I have 2 aged horses and 2 younger ones. Anyone knowledged about this?
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jos
Member
Username: paardex

Post Number: 769
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2008 - 1:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Nitrogen fertilizer or mowing short a few times should give the grasses a headstart on clover.
In the Dutch situation[here in Normandy the same] 30% clover is thought safe 24/7 for normal horses.
I don't know if the 30% applies to your soil and climate but the mowing and fertilizing should.
Hope this helps
Jos
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jacque
New Member
Username: jessam

Post Number: 5
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2008 - 2:35 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you for your advice. We have mowed it, but it keeps coming back up. Guess we have to do the fertilizing.
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Imogen Bertin
Member
Username: imogen

Post Number: 1118
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 4:13 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

What happens if there is too much clover, Jos? We are all being encouraged to put in more clover to the sward here to reduce the use of nitrogen fertiliser...

Imogen
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 2228
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 5:50 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Around these parts clover is considered a legume and puts nitrogen back in the ground....I think I got that right. Regardless clover tends to take over pastures, the only way I have found to get rid of it is 2-4d. 2-4d won' kill the grass but knocks back the clover.

My horses love clover, but seem to get fatter on it. I don't like a lot in my pasture and it does tend to spread, especially when the pasture is kept short.
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jacque
Member
Username: jessam

Post Number: 6
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 6:06 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Now Im confused again. (Doesnt take much to do that). Should the pasture be kept mowed to keep the clover down, or let it grow to keep it down? If too much nitrogen is causing it to grow, I wouldnt think fertilizing with it would be a good idea? Am I reading all this wrong???
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jos
Member
Username: paardex

Post Number: 772
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 6:15 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

The clover puts nitrogen in the soil yes and so has an advantage on grass [if you want the grass to grow fast you need nitrogenfertilizer: more production]
Back to basics taught us to put in clover[in Holland it has completely disapeared in a lot of high production farms]and it's as far as I know the only legume that does well in Holland [and Ireland?]
Legumes up the protein amount in the diet so for 'normal'[not lactating not fast growing] horses 30 % was supposed to be safe to keep the protein percentage at a good level. But I think apart from that as only one sort of grass isn't really healthy and balanced for a horse I suppose only clover wouldn't be either. The cows eating the modern grass are supplemented heavily with pelleted complete food to get a balanced diet.
The amount of nitrogen in the rain in Holland was already so high it stayed difficult to keep enough clover even without fertilizing!
The above is what was told me by the agricultural advisers in Holland so if I misunderstood please correct me.
Jos
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jos
Member
Username: paardex

Post Number: 773
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 6:32 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sorry if I confused you Jacque the clover needs to be mowed or eaten as short as possible as that will eat up it's inbuild nitrogen OR you should add nitrogen on the grass to give them the same advantage as the clover.
Jos
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 2229
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 6:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm pretty sure the only way to eliminate clover is to spray it out. My pasture has way more than I like. I asked my husband how I could get rid of it and that was his ans... (spray it). I left it alone for the fact clover seems to take a beating well, from mud. horse hooves, flooding, over grazing ect. Once it heads out it doesn't seem as (sweet) and the horses can graze it more....I don't know if that is fact...just my observation.

The horses graze the pasture right to the ground and their pasture has way more clover then our "taller" pastures, that was the reasoning behind my short pastures comment. Our short pastures tend to have more clover. The grass don't get a chance to head out and I guess? that would hinder it from spreading. This is from my observations...don't know if it is fact
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 20820
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 6:54 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello jacque,
We have information on horses grazing legume pasture in the article Horse Care » Equine Nutrition, Horse Feeds, Feeding » Forages for Horses, an Overview. Horses have done well on all legume pasture but this needs to be judged by the horse's body condition score. Strengths and weaknesses of such a diet will be covered in both Nutritional and Forage overview articles.

A downside to a high clover diet are some of the endophyte toxins that may be present in some stands. Slaframine is a common one who's main symptom is drooling. In concentrated amounts it has produced mild colics but I have never heard of a naturally occurring case.

There is a controversy above about mowing and I suspect this depends on the variety: short varieties may thrive with frequent mowing while taller varieties don't. Nitrogen will suppress clover growth.
DrO
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jacque
Member
Username: jessam

Post Number: 7
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 7:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Wow! Thank you all for enlightening me on this. Its so difficult trying to be knowledgeable in all this kind of thing. I really appreciate all your help. Diane it sounds like your pastures are like mine. I have a top field with very little clover and grows high. But the horses always want to go below where all the clover is growing. It does seem like it gets trampled by mid summer and then seems to stop growing as much. For some reason this year seems like there is way more than last, and I dont like having that with a horse who is IR and another who is possible Cushings. Ive been keeping them off of the clover field and only on it with the muzzles. Now with this heat wave we have had I hope some of it dies off. The fields all around me are full of the purple clover! Dr. O, I havent seen any slobbering yet, but from what I have heard from others, it seems that their horses do that with the purple clover. Dont know if thats the only clover that makes them drool or not. Guess I better get out today and start cutting! Thanks again
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 2231
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 8:03 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

jacque I have an ir horse and cushings horse also, of course all horses are different, but them 2 can't tolerate much clover, that's why they just went to the dry lot. I put up a temporary fence and move it daily, that way they don't "over do it" and still get some grazing, it also forces them to eat what is there instead of all clover.
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Imogen Bertin
Member
Username: imogen

Post Number: 1120
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 8:32 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

As fertiliser prices tend to track oil prices, I suspect that clover may get a lot more attention shortly...

Imogen
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jacque
Member
Username: jessam

Post Number: 8
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 8:56 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Diane, I have done the same thing. Ive sectioned an area off and keep them in there most of the time. Now with the heat the muzzels are not working out with sweat and flys on them. The other 2 horses are a little porky too. What area are you living in? Im in northeastern PA. Must be something in the air here with so many IR and cushing horses.
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Lori
Member
Username: maggienm

Post Number: 686
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 9:17 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well that clears up a bit of a mystery. Around here we know that the clover we call Alsike, and I am beginning to understand there is probably more than one short variety grown here; is bad for horses, yet some horses seemed able to graze it for years with no ill effects.

The taller purple clover is considered safe in small quantities.

I am gleaning that it is because sometimes the clover becomes infected with a bacteria that is harmful.

I understand too much straight clover could also deliver too much sugar to a horse.
please correct me if I am still mistaken.

Oh I learn so much from this forum.
Thank you.
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Angie J.
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 1754
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 10:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I do a frost seeding every 3 years of a clover pasture seed mix. Here, in Upper MI, the clover (Red, 3year) does real well and seems to help the other grasses get started. Right now it's pretty thick with all the rain.

I chuckled at trying to kill it off; I hate the fact that all weed killers do kill clover as I want it to grow!

This fall we plan on doing a heavy dose of the 2-4D as we have some weeds that are threatening to take over. I figure with the clover killed off, my pastures will be pretty thin. I am curious to see what happens really maybe I won't need to do a seeding anymore as the other grasses will take over. I worry about the clover being too rich but I don't see my horses grazing just that.

I was told to let the horses graze the pastures a day or 2, then mow at the highest setting of the mower; 3 1/2 inches. The horses should graze when the clover is 6-8 inches high. I find that humorus as my pastures very seldom get that tall, it's more like the horses graze at 3 1/2 inches, then I mow what's left! This year is an exception with all the rain.
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 2232
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 11:00 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I live in extreme NW IL. Our clover is mostly of the white variety...in the horse pasture anyway. Right now it is heading out and if you are going to get slobbers this is when it starts. Once it heads out it seems my horses tolerate it much better.

Angie my experience with the 2-4D has been that it knocks back the clover but doesn't kill it all.
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Erika L
Member
Username: erika

Post Number: 1264
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 3:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Jacque, I'm in NW New Jersey, not far from you I suspect. Stillwater in Sussex County. Where are you?
Yes, I have and IR and Cushings, too. I grew up in Western Washington State. It was always a challenge to put weight on my horse. Here the challenge is keeping it off! All my neighbors' horses are too fat, too.
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jacque
Member
Username: jessam

Post Number: 9
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 4:31 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

This site is a new found wonder for me! Thanks guys for all your help. I finally found a place to get some answers. Erika, I grew up in Wash. NJ. Know exactly where Sussex is. My old stomping ground as a teenager. Im in Kempton,PA. (Hawk Mountain)
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 2236
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 - 4:59 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lori I think alsike clover is a different beast as far as horse are concerned. If I remember correctly it can cause SOME horses to become photosensitive and can also damage their liver (I think). I researched it years ago because I had a pasture (not here) full of it. I'm sure Dr.O will correct me if wrong
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