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Discussion on Freshly cut grass or hay

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Carolinamom
Member
Username: Sailor7

Post Number: 7
Registered: 3-2006
Posted on Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 - 10:38 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

We are new horse owners, and I wanted to check this out since we have been told conflicting information by our various neighbors who own horses.

Is it harmful for horses to eat grass that has been freshly mowed or cut? Some neighbors say it causes horses to colic because the freshly cut grass releases a substance that is toxic to horses. Others laughed in disbelief and said they never worry about it and have been doing it for years. They couldn't believe we believed that there could be a problem.

The reason I ask is that we have a field that needs to be cut, so we can put up new fencing. I wondered if the horses should not be allowed in that field after it is cut...and whether we should rake it up.

If horses are not suppose to eat freshly cut grass or hay, then how long should the horses be off that pasture?

I did try to look for this answer among the posts, but couldn't find it. Thanks for any help.
Dee
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Ann
Member
Username: Dres

Post Number: 758
Registered: 10-2000
Posted on Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 - 11:36 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dee.. I know what works for us.. my pastures are underwater and marshy for a long time, while drying out the grass becomes thigh high and very lush.. what we find works for us.. is the time put in weed whacking it down, giving each horse a wheel barrel of raked up clippings per day.. when i can open the pastures, they are used to the lush grass and i don't worry much .. all tho, that being said.. they are only allowed on the lush grass the first few weeks on hourly times.. to make sure..

NEVER LAWN MOWER CLIPPINGS.. oils and such from the power mower can leak onto the grass cuttings.. weed whacking is just pulled grass..

On the first day God created horses, on the second day he painted them with spots..
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: Mrose

Post Number: 1304
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 - 1:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've always heard that if a horse is to eat freshly cut grass, it needs to be fed right after cutting. If it sits even a few hours, it can start fermenting and can cause severe colic. I know of two horses that died from eating clippings. I always keep the horses off a mowed field until the cut grass dries out.
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Susan Jeys
Member
Username: Sjeys

Post Number: 29
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 - 2:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I wonder if the horses died from something else in the grass? Like Oleander leaves or another highly toxic plant that gets chopped up really small? A few leaves will kill a full grown horse.
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: Mrose

Post Number: 1305
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 - 3:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

No, it was just grass. These horses lived near my in-laws, and when we drove by one day they had a huge pile of grass clippings their owner had given them. I commented as we drove past that I'd always heard that was dangerous to feed clippings to horses. Later I learned that two of the horses had colicked and died. The owners left the clippings instead of hay for the horses, and left for the night. When they returned, two of the horses were dead.
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Ann
Member
Username: Dres

Post Number: 759
Registered: 10-2000
Posted on Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 - 3:30 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

hum.. that is interesting.. I sometimes will weed whack the night before .. the next day will rake up and feed.. Also there have been summers where the pastures dried quickly, we were able to use a bush hog to cut the grass down.. left lay, and later in the month turned horses on it.. never had a problem at all.

When they cut hay... it sits on the fields to dry before bailing..

On the first day God created horses, on the second day he painted them with spots..
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Little King Ranch
Member
Username: Eoeo

Post Number: 260
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 - 4:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

If you weed whack tall grass, there shouldn't be a problem. It is the grass cut by a lawn mower that is deadly. The clippings are too short, they can get impacted. EO
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Holly Wood
Member
Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1108
Registered: 3-2001
Posted on Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 - 4:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have had a horse choke from lawn clippings that a neighbor threw into my pasture. He thought he was doing me a service, but it was really scary. It all balled up in the horse's throat . . . she was so happy to have them that she gorged on them . . . so, from my past experience, I never feed freshly cut grass to horses.
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Shirley A. Johnson
Member
Username: Shirl

Post Number: 340
Registered: 2-2002
Posted on Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 - 12:03 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I read in one of the better horse magazines, can't recall which one now as it was quite a few years ago, but they said not to feed grass clippings freshly mowed, it can kill. Something about the chemical of the plant and what happens within the plant. Dried it's okay. Not knowing this I tried giving Sierra some clippings once, and luckily she refused them. That was a horse that would eat anything!!
Shirl
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Ann
Member
Username: Dres

Post Number: 760
Registered: 10-2000
Posted on Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 - 1:27 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O , help us out here.. .. cut grass fed to a horse is it dangerous.? Does it depend on how the grass was cut.. or how long or short the grass is.. ?? ..

Ok now you all have me worried.. all tho, i have been feeding my guys weed whacked grass for years..

On the first day God created horses, on the second day he painted them with spots..
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joj
Member
Username: Jojo15

Post Number: 687
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 - 8:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

YES!!! cut grass ferments. it dies. and ferments. I don't know how i know that but don't cut the grass and then let the horse eat it. The first couple of hours i'm sure is fine. but anything after that i wouldn't chance it.

I'm not sure but the word phytotoxin popped up in my head, when i was writing this not sure if that has anything to do with it either. which is a fungus. I gotta go look that up...
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Angie
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 431
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 - 8:42 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've always figured freshly mowed grass was too much like silage to feed to horses so I have never fed the clippings, or let them graze freshly mown pastures. I was told that cattle can handle the silage and even some moldy hay, but horses' digestive system is way too delicate for that, which I agree with.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 15501
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 - 8:54 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Everyone,
Most fresh cut grasses are not particularly toxic but let's put all the qualifiers in:
  • We are talking about the common pasture or lawn grasses. There are some sorgum /sudan grasses that can form cyanides from prussic acid after being cut under some conditions.
  • You should remember there are some toxins and toxin-generators (like fructans) in both regular grass and clovers that will not change when cut.
  • If it has been put in a pile and begun to ferment it may have formed botulinum toxin.
  • If it is tainted with oil and gas that is not so good, but I doubt the horses would eat it.
  • And there is no doubt grass mown with a lawn mower will choke a horse in a heart beat. I saw 2 horses that choked simultaneously on lawn mower clippings. I think the finely clipped grass is luscious to them and they attempt to swallow large amounts without chewing well.
So lawn mower clippings should go on to the fermentation pile but a pasture mown with a rotary pasture clipper (bushhog) is probably safe as long as it does not accumulate in big piles that rot.
DrO
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Stacy Upshaw
Member
Username: 36541

Post Number: 94
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 - 2:58 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

When I had a mare and post-op newborn on stall rest for 2 months, I went out each morning and cut in the bahai hay field with the bush-hog. I fed some grass immediately(it was 12-15 inches long), and bagged the rest in Wal-Mart sacks and put them in the fridge. They smelled fine for up to three days. I fed that way for 2 months without ill affect, except the marital strain from the dead grasshoppers in the fridge!!
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Erika L
Member
Username: Erika

Post Number: 147
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Monday, May 1, 2006 - 8:31 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I, too, had a horse choke on fresh grass clippings--never again!
But I do let them graze mown pastures with no problems. I guess it needs to be spread out to dry properly.
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: Vickiann

Post Number: 217
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Monday, May 1, 2006 - 9:01 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Dr. O -- excellent information!
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Ann
Member
Username: Dres

Post Number: 762
Registered: 10-2000
Posted on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 - 9:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post



This the spring grass i am dealing with.. Some places the grass is even higher..

On the first day God created horses, on the second day he painted them with spots..
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Lilo
Member
Username: Lilo

Post Number: 252
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Wednesday, May 3, 2006 - 10:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

This is a great "problem" to have, unless you have overweight or laminitis prone horses.
Lilo
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Michele
Member
Username: firefly

Post Number: 7
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Sunday, Aug 5, 2007 - 10:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr O,
Is the newly cut lawn mower grass dangerous (such as a release of toxins) because of the metal blade? after discarding the clippings.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 18978
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 - 9:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

No the metal introduced by the blade is not toxic.
DrO
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Muffi Delaney
Member
Username: muffi

Post Number: 160
Registered: 1-2006
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 1:43 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I cut and feed my guys fresh grown wild alfalfa and toss it in the arena at nite as a treat - cut and toss with in 10 minutes - eaten by the boys in less then 15 minutes - I can see them smack their lips in appreciation. I do this cause they look at it all day from the confines of their paddock off the barn that is all dirt.
it also helps me keep the yard looking better as we don't mow the wild flowers.
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Dylan's mom
New Member
Username: purdue77

Post Number: 3
Registered: 1-2009
Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2009 - 1:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


I have been reading the posts regarding horses eating freshly mown grass. Now I am more confused than ever. We have a two acre pasture which our two 6 and 8 year old mares have free access to. The grass was getting very long, so my husband mowed it with our Kubota tractor/mower. He said that he went over the clippings several times to make them smaller, to be safer on the horses. Isn't that the exact opposite from what we are supposed to do? Is it true that the first few hours after mowing it is just fine for the horses to eat the clippings, but after that they could be in the fermentation process and they should not be allowed to eat them? So is it the fermentation that harms horses, the size of the clippings (getting balled up in the back of the throat), or both? We are new horse owners and want to do the best for our horses, but my husband refuses to believe that eating grass clippings is bad for horses. I apologize for making this so long, but I hope you understand my plight and help me find the definitive answer for my know-it-all husband (who has never had anything to do with horses before last fall.) Thanks for any input.}}}}
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Holly Wood
Member
Username: hollyw

Post Number: 465
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2009 - 7:45 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi, Dylan's mom,

I've had a couple of horses choke from yard grass clippings (small from a regular lawn mower).

I would think that the LONG cut grass would be safer as it would require the horses to grind it up.

As for fermenting grass, I would be afraid of feeding it. I'm not sure if that's what qualifies as "haylage," as I know that some "haylage" can be fed to horses. Not sure if long-cut, fresh-cut, and beginning-to-ferment hay is dangerous for a horse, but I know that moldy hay is not good. My personal choice would be to stay clear of it.

I think a good rule with horses is: "When in doubt, don't."
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 23053
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2009 - 7:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dylan's Mom, if what I have already wrote does not convince him I don't know what will. But to reiterate, not only have I seen multiple horses choke on lawn mower clippings, I have seen several horses do it all at one time.
DrO
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Angie J.
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 2607
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2009 - 8:35 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Best to divide the pasture in half, or thirds, mow each section after grazing to keep weeds down, and keep horses off the freshly mown area for 5-7 days. Going over long grass a few times it a good idea, but if you mow on a regular basis you shouldn't have to do that. The only spots I go over more than once are the manure areas.

Advice I gave my (non horsey) husband years ago: "I don't tell you how to hunt, set up your deer blind, clean you guns, what bait to use, that is your thing. I'll take care of what is best for the horses!"
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