WINTER PADDOCK CARE AND PREPARATION

Keep your fields in the best condition possible over the winter.

Rest or Rotate
 
It is important to preserve and maintain fields correctly during the winter months, if not come spring and summer there will be no grazing. We all need to find that balance between turning your horse adequately and saving our grazing as much as possible. If you have the space to split your grazing into separate paddocks with temporary electric fencing then this is ideal as it will give you the flexibility to rotate your fields and save them from over use, resting certain areas permanently over the winter months will give you a better chance of good grazing for the summer.
pasture-management-1 
When the ground is really wet, the best ideal would be to try and avoid turning out and where possible give your horse time out from the stable by turning out into a school, walker or menage for an hour. Please note if you are in a position to use a school to stretch your horse's legs it is important to ensure it is safe and that your horse can not jump out. If your horse does get fretful try adding a hay net as this might help. Always monitor your horse and how he reacts for the first couple of times in the school and don't leave him too long as he could get board.
 
When the weather is really grim and there is little grass to eat some horses will just stand at the gate causing the ground to churn up, if this is the case try turning your horses out twice daily for shorter periods of time. If grazing is poor add piles of hay to the field, remembering to increase and space out the number of piles so allowing your horses to move from pile to pile and keep grazing on the move. If you are lucky to have horses that don't need to go out every day, alternate the days or put your horses out for shorter periods of time, some horses actually prefer this to being left out for long periods.
Many horse owners are time short and simply don't have the time to bring horses in and out, so try and section back a temporary gate which can be moved regularly to avoid the ground in this area becoming too churned up. 

Maintaining fencing
 winter paddock care
Wooden fencing can be damaged by a lot of rain, especially if not treated properly. Treat the wood prior to the onset of winter with an animal safe wood treatment to maintain the wood over the wet and cold season. Repair any broken or loose fence panels as soon as possible, ensuring that all nails and any other harmful areas such as splinters are removed. If you have horses that chew your wooden fencing, then you should be more aware of how vulnerable these areas are to the wet and winter seasons - these areas can become unsafe very quickly and often these panels will need replacing, there are many safe wood treatments that now deter a horse from fence chewing which can help save you time and expense during the winter months when some horses get board whilst waiting to come in and start chewing at the fences.
 
 Drainage Systems
 The drainage of your field is important especially if you have wet ground which adds additional problems in the wet and winter seasons.
Really wet ground will need additional drainage to help pump excess water away from the ground. Drainage options can vary and some can be expensive, however as a long term investment they really can save you money, time and worry. 
If you are already using a drainage system on your fields, now is the time to get it checked or serviced, there is nothing more frustrating than finding when you need o get the most from your system that it is not doing the job and the land you thought was going to be OK is now a bog of churned up water logged pasture that is now a danger to your horse.
Preparing your drainage in advance is essential if you are to avoid a much larger job once your felids have lost their battle with excess water.

It can be difficult to manage grazing over the winter months but by taking as many steps as possible to do what you can; you will help your grazing for the future seasons.

READ TOP 10 TIPS TO KEEPING ON TOP OF YOUR PADDOCK THIS WINTER CLICK HERE  
 
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