Last Updated: | By Forageplus Team
A common question is if I test minerals in my horse pasture won’t it change over the year so that it is different in summer and winter. Many people want to know if they will have to test minerals many times each year.
If you want to test minerals in your horse pasture, grass, hay or haylage then Forageplus™ can answer your questions.
The answer is that most major and trace minerals for horses and especially the ratios do not change enough over the seasons to be significant. It is an overall picture of the ratios and levels that you want to gain so that you can match minerals to the grass your horse eats. What will change greatly are the nutritional elements of the grass your horse eats – digestible energy (calories), sugar and starch and the protein level. This is why we do not routinely advise testing grass for nutritional value.
Rainfall can affect levels of minerals like iron and manganese and a cold spring can affect the levels of phosphorous in summer grass. Potassium can be a bit higher and magnesium lower in new shoots of grass. However these differences are not enough to need to carry out testing more than once or twice every couple of years. An analysis to test minerals in horse pasture will indicate the amounts of minerals that need to be supplemented to make up deficiencies and correct imbalances and this can be used year round.Test the minerals in horse pasture once or twice every couple of years - match minerals to the grass your horse eats.Click To Tweet
As the seasons change, the digestible energy (calories) will go up and down and that is where the art of feeding comes in. If there is less energy value (calories) in the grass then you will need to feed more so that your horse can maintain a good body condition score. On the other hand, with the flush of grass in spring you will need to feed less but the mineral mix which balances to the grass your horse eats can stay the same. The advantage of this type of approach means that your horse receives the nutrients needed matched to grass at the same time as being able to get more or less calories through the feed fed in a bucket.
The only time you would definitely have to retest your pasture regularly would be when you were improving it with the addition of fertilisers, minerals or lime.
Remember when you test horse grass, hay or haylage samples they have to be representative. If you can’t do this then consider using one of our ‘forage focused’ horse feed balancers which have been formulated against statistical analysis of the hundreds of forage samples we tested for our clients. Our balancers are nutritionally focused supplements rather than broad spectrum, cover the usual deficiencies in UK forage and are matched to NRC minimums and ratios.