Time4Turn-Out: How To Improve Your Paddock

how to prepare your paddock

Correctly managing paddocks can make a big difference to the amount of grazing/hay available for your horse, and also help withstand the pressures from the multiple demands that are made from it. Alongside low productivity, poorly managed fields can be the source of many internal parasites and poisonous plants.

At least 80% of a horse’s diet should be forage, so the quality and content is very important. By getting the right mix of grass, the goal for your horse is to gain the majority of nutritional requirements from grazing, which of course is the most healthy and natural. To ensure paddocks have sufficient grazing all year round, the grass needs to include species that will complement each other throughout the growing season.

BASIC PADDOCK MAINTENANCE

COMPACTION
Common in equine pastures due to the nature of the hoof conformation. Compaction leads to stressed plants as the roots cannot access nutrients, water or air, all necessary to grow, leading to bare patches. Aerate the soil by sub soiling or using a soil slitter, avoid overstocking (1.5 acre/horse) and include species with deep roots that will help keep the soil aerated.

DAILY
Pick up droppings, rotate grazing where possible and don’t graze grass right down to the ground. Look for bare spots that may be starting to develop that will allow weeds to start growing, especially Ragwort and Buttercups that are poisonous. Either spray or dig weeds out before they go to seed.

SPRING
Remove all dead thatch in the base of the sward with a chain-harrow.  Overseed any bare patches. Roll paddocks to consolidate poached areas and loose soil. Shut up any paddocks that will be used for making hay. In gateway areas that are badly damaged, consider putting wood chip or gravel down.  Before buying fertiliser use the results from your soil test to understand which nutrients your soil needs for optimal health.  Delay nitrogen application if overseeding or reseeding, this will encourage the existing sward to outcompete out new seeds.

SUMMER
Continue to remove any weeds. Top the grass to remove stalky, rough areas (Don’t top Ragwort or Foxglove as these are palatable to horses when dried but also poisonous).

AUTUMN
Keep an eye on drainage, ensuring paddocks don’t start to get waterlogged Continue to control Ragwort.

WINTER
Rotate the paddocks if possible to avoid damage by poaching, using the best drained fields.  Carry out soil testing in Feb-March or Sept-Dec if its over 5 years since the last test.

You need to renovate the paddock when you have 30-50% weed species in the field, by either overseeding or reseeding. Keep a check on the soil status by testing it on average every 5 years: Target pH 6-6.5, Phosphorus (P) 2, Potassium (K) 2

OVERSEEDING

Overseeding can be a very useful, low cost way of improving existing pasture,
which may have become thin and tired with age or damaged through overgrazing. However its worth remembering the existing grasses have a very well developed root system which is in direct competition with new seedlings trying to get established, competing for light, moisture and nutrients.
Avoid long, dry spells, best done April – May, July- August when the soil is warm but not too dry.

  • Cut or graze the field before overseeding and chain harrow to remove any dead thatch in the bottom. Make sure it’s quite bare to allow good seed to soil contact.
  • Broadcast the new seeds and roll to lock in moisture.
  • Once the seeds start to germinate don’t graze the area for 5-6 weeks, then give it a light graze before taking the horses out again to allow the seedlings to tiller out.

Don’t apply fertiliser at sowing because the new plants have no roots and are unable to take up nutrients. All you do is favour the existing sward and provide more competition to the new plants.

RESEEDING

Ensure a soil test has been carried out to check the pH and key nutrients levels.

  • Plough up the existing sward then work the soil into a finer tilth to create a fine, firm seedbed.
  • Broadcast or drill the seed no more than 1cm deep, then roll well to lock in moisture and create good seed to soil contact.
  • Don’t allow the horses in for at least 6 weeks for a light grazing, to avoid damaging the new plants.
How To Prepare Your Paddock
Perennial Ryegrass 70%
Strong Creeping Red Fescue 16%
Meadow Fescue 8%
Timothy 6%

GENERAL PURPOSE 10KG/ACRE

Reseed 0.7 acres, Overseed 1 acre

PADDOCKS, GALLOPS, GRAZING AREAS, RIDING AREAS

Hardwearing mixture designed to withstand the pressures of equestrian use and provide good quality grazing.

Contains varieties that have been specifically selected for roughage and low fructan content

  • Produces a good, springy, dense turf
  • The low fructan content reduces the risk of laminitis
  • Strong grass plant rooting system, making the sward dense, hard-wearing and persistent
Tall Fescue 25%
Strong Creeping Red Fescue 25%
Meadow Fescue 20%
Timothy 15%
Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass 15%

TRADITIONAL MEADOW 10KG/pack

Reseed 0.7 acres, Overseed 1 acre
PADDOCKS, GRAZING AREAS

Ryegrass-free grass seed mixture, the healthiest pasture for your horse

Formulated to recreate the nutritional characteristics of a natural habitat. The mixture is ryegrass free and uses species with a less aggressive growth habit to aid diversity.

  • Varieties in this mixture are likely to be lower in fructans than a ryegrass sward, reducing the risk of laminitis
  • Effective fibre in your horse grass
  • The optimum grass seed for your horse meadow

Please contact us on forage@carrs-billington.com with any queries.
CLICK HERE to download the Grass & Forage Seed Brochure 2022

grass catalogue
time 4 turn out

TIME4TURN-OUT

With winter behind us, the promise of warmer weather and longer days makes spring an eagerly anticipated season for horse owners.

Plan ahead now to avoid spring challenges and spend more time enjoying your horse.

Read More

Time4Finishing: Parasite Control In Finishing Beef Cattle

Parasites in finishing cattle can cause up to 10% body condition loss, increasing the time it takes to reach slaughter weight[1].

Quarantining and treating any new cattle brought on-farm for parasites, as a priority, will help to prevent new outbreaks within existing herds.

In addition, it’s important to remember that lice, mites and liver fluke can affect finishing beef cattle during winter housing so make sure you know what to look for, and how to prevent and treat infestations, by reading our guide below:

[1] Beef Parasites – Westpoint Farm Vets

Lice and mites

The closeness of housed cattle can make mites and lice easily transmissible between animals. Thick winter coats also provide optimal conditions for lice to breed.

There are two types of lice that affect cattle in the UK: chewing and sucking lice, alongside two types of common mites: burrowing (sarcoptic mange) and non-burrowing (chorioptic mange).

Treatment

Ideally, cattle should be proactively treated for lice and mites at housing to prevent outbreaks over winter. However, if infestations are present on one or more cows, it’s important to remember:

  • The type of lice or mites should be identified before treatment
  • There are a range of treatment products available
  • All other cattle within the housed group should be treated to prevent reinfestation
  • Withdrawal periods may be applicable after using treatment products
  • A repeated dose of products may be required for effective treatment

Lice

Pour-on and spot-on synthetic pyrethroids and pour-on and injectable macrocyclic lactones (MLs) are available for the treatment of lice. The injectable treatment is only effective against sucking lice.

These treatments will not be effective against lice eggs and a second course of treatment is recommended if the product residual efficiency is less than two weeks.

Lice infestations can be a sign that cattle may have underlying health issues. Therefore, making sure your cattle are kept in optimal condition through correct feeding will ensure they have a healthier immune system, reducing their susceptibility to infestations and diseases. Read more about feeding finishing cattle here: Time 4 Finishing.

Mites

The pyrethroid permethrin, ivermectin, doramectin, eprinomectin and moxidectin pour-on treatments can be used to treat non-burrowing mites. Burrowing mites should be treated with systemic macrocyclic lactones (MLs).

Treated animals should be moved to new housing that has not been used for cattle in the previous three weeks.

Speak to your in-store or on-farm specialist for advice on the best products to use to prevent or treat lice and mites in your herd.

Liver Fluke

Finishing cattle grazed in the autumn will be at risk of ingesting liver fluke larvae which, if left untreated, could turn into adult fluke during late winter and early spring. Juvenile fluke migrate through the liver, where they cause liver damage and haemorrhage, to the bile ducts where they mature. Once in the bile ducts, the fluke cause chronic disease which can result in a reduction in feed conversion efficiency and poor growth rates.

Treatment

Liver fluke risk is farm-specific, and if present can either cause chronic or acute disease. Flukicides can be used to prevent liver fluke larvae from developing into adults or to treat those that have already developed over winter.

To help determine whether your cattle are at risk of liver fluke consider the following environmental factors:

  • Pasture and weather conditions – cattle grazed on wet, low-lying pasture or near a water source will be more at risk of contracting liver fluke
  • Regional risk – the NADIS parasite forecast provides useful area-specific alerts

Your vet can also conduct:

  • Faecal egg counts – treatment may be required if more than 5 eggs per gram are found
  • Blood tests

Make sure you seek advice from an on-farm or in-store specialist, or a vet, to determine the risk level of liver fluke on your farm. If your herd is found to be at risk, they will also be able to ensure the right flukicide is used at the right time and in the right way as part of your herd health management plan.

Different products will treat the fluke at different stages. Some treat larvae, while others are effective against adult fluke. Additionally, withdrawal periods following treatment may be applicable.

Remember:

  • Generally, if sheep are found to have fluke on a farm, cattle will be affected too
  • Pasture management measures such as topping rushes, reducing poaching and improving drainage will reduce the herd’s exposure to liver fluke larvae during grazing

Feeding For Breeding

feeding & breeding

Horslyx provides all breeding stock, including broodmares, foals and stallions, with optimum levels of vitamins, minerals and trace elements to balance the deficiencies in forage and grazing, whilst also including biotin, chelated zinc and methionine to encourage healthy hoof growth for the years ahead.

Foals and youngstock need the correct levels of protein to build up muscle mass, ensure a healthy immune system and support their growth. Horslyx provides the correct ratio of calcium to phosphorus and contains amino acids – the building blocks of protein – in the form of prairie meal which when combined with the fat from the mare’s milk – or when they are older high quality forage – provides the perfect foundation for healthy development.

Modern day forage and grazing does not always contain the ideal levels of vitamins and minerals, so supplementing a high fibre diet with free access to Horslyx helps ensure optimum amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium and vitamin E are incorporated. Horslyx includes copper and zinc in a chelated form – as they would be found in nature – making them more efficiently digested and the nutrient rich lick is weatherproof enabling it to be used all year round at grass or in the stable.

Offering inquisitive youngsters a palatable, easy to digest product such as Horslyx will help promote the natural trickle feeding pattern – aiding in encouraging a healthy digestive system and keep them out of trouble for longer periods of time! The high oil content ensures a healthy, glossy coat leaving them blooming with condition and ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.

Horslyx XL (40kg) and Horslyx XL+ (80kg) are very cost effective due to the larger size and ideal for feeding to herds in the field.  Horslyx XL is available in Original, Garlic and Pro Digest while Horslyx XL+ is available in Original and Garlic. The Horslyx XL will last one 500kg horse a massive 160 days when fed at recommended levels of 250g per day.  All Horslyx products are weatherproof and the smaller 5kg and 15kg sizes are also available in Mint, Mobility and Respiratory.

If you’re wondering which one to choose, then Garlic is an ideal choice for Spring to help repel those pesky flies, Pro Digest is great to support optimum gut health which can help to support milk production in mares and Original is a cost-effective option to ensure that all mares and youngstock get their vitamins and minerals.

Horslyx Balancers are available in 650g, 5kg, 15kg, 40kg and 80kg sizes.  For more information please visit www.horslyx.com.

proud to be stocking horslyx
horslyx feeding for breeding

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Time4Accuracy: Improving fertiliser use efficiency

Improving fertiliser use efficiency

Experts indicate that around 40% of nitrogen fertiliser that’s applied to agricultural land isn’t utilised because plants aren’t able to use the available mineral nutrients.

As fertiliser prices remain high, read our reminder guide for helpful tips on how to improve nutrient use efficiency, without compromising yield.

Soil analysis

Soil sampling provides a representative view of soil fertility and condition which will help to improve nutrient use efficiency. It will also inform accurate fertiliser calculations and costings by ensuring the right fertiliser is spread at the right time, in the right amount.

This is because soil testing results will show:

  • Soil nutrient level – Basic soil analysis will show magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels. More advanced soil tests will show levels of other elements and trace elements such as calcium (Ca), boron (B), copper (Cu) and manganese (Mn)
  • Nitrogen (N) levels are tested separately from other elements and trace elements. An estimate of nitrogen levels can be calculated from analysing soil type, rainfall and previous cropping
  • Soil indices – Potash and phosphate should be at index level 2 for grassland to ensure nitrogen can be used efficiently, which will drive higher levels of daily dry matter production
  • Soil pH levels –Different crops have different pH requirements but the optimal range for most plants is between 5.5 and 7.0. Soil pH is important for increasing the response to chemical or organic fertiliser as it maximises the availability of nutrients to plants. Apply lime if soils are too acidic to prevent yield losses.

Top tip: Lime applications should only be based on soil tests taken within the last four years. Target the most acidic fields with lime first as they may need more than one application to reach the optimum pH range

Soil sampling top tips:

  • Take samples when it’s dry
  • Test all silage fields every three years and permanent pasture every five years (this can be achieved by sampling around 20% of your farm every year)
  • Avoid nitrate-release tests in grass grazed by livestock because manure and urine can create false readings
  • Take multiple samples within the same field
  • Use soil sample results to inform precision spreading
  • Assess soil compaction and condition when soil sampling. Consider using a harrow, plough or aerator to break up and add oxygen to compacted soil. This encourages root growth, supporting fertiliser uptake and sward health
  • Watch our ‘how to’ soil sampling video here

Make use of slurry or manure

make use of slurry

Organic manure is the obvious substitute to reduce use and reliance on chemical fertiliser. But as stipulated by the updated ‘Farming Rules for Water’, you must plan how much fertiliser or manure to use to not exceed the needs of the soil and crop on the land. This can be achieved by:

  • Analysing slurry or manure before application to understand the nutrients within it to make sure nutrient requirements (based on soil analysis) are met
  • Calculating the phosphate and potash levels to maintain ideal soil indices (as outlined above)
  • Calculating the application rate. Nitrogen application rates should be calculated separately to other elements and follow Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) standards where applicable.

Top tips:

  • Two slurry or manure samples should be taken per year, coinciding with the main spreading periods
  • Stir slurry, or break up any lumps if using solid manure, and thoroughly mix, before taking the sample to achieve representative results
  • Make sure you’re familiar with the Farming Rules For Water
  • Any nutrient shortfalls can be made up with chemical fertiliser
  • Retrofitting a tanker dribble bar to your slurry spreader is a quick, cost-effective, and low-cost method of optimising your slurry application. Contact us here to find out more.
alex law

Seek advice

Our FACTS-qualified advisers can help with creating nutrient and manure management plans. Speak to your local on-farm specialist if you would like assistance with this.

Check the most cost-effective application rates of nitrogen, slurry or manure for your crops by consulting AHDB’s recommendations in the Nutrient Management Guide (RB209).

Top tips:

  • As part of a longer-term plan to improve fertiliser efficiency, consider adding nitrogen fixing crop varieties, such as clover or other legumes, into your rotation. Read our Grass and Forage Guide 2021 to learn more.
  • Calibrating your fertiliser spreader, using dribble bars or slurry injectors will improve accuracy. Contact your local on-farm specialist if you’d like assistance with this and read more on this here: Fertiliser spreader checks should be prioritised to reap financial rewards
time for soil health

Tight supply coupled with rising fuel prices have resulted in unprecedented costs for fertiliser.

To help keep total farm costs down, our complete grassland management programme is designed to help you optimise fertiliser use efficiency and grass growth.

Read More

Laminaze For Seasonal Support

laminaze

Spring is on its way and the warmer temperatures together with springtime showers means one thing – grass growth! Great news for some, but for at-risk equines it can set alarm bells ringing. Not just our natives, but good do-ers of all types may be prone to weight gain, and the associated risks.

What can owners do?

  • If restricting turnout, trying grazing at night and bringing in during the day, as horses naturally graze less at night. Alternatively, a grazing muzzle works well for some – though take care not to leave on continually
  • Monitor Body Condition Score once a week, and keep a diary. Unfortunately weight gain is often the trigger for further problems, and sadly excess weight is well-recognised in our horses and ponies. For guidance on how see www.naf-equine.eu/uk/digestion/slim
  • Keep up exercise as much as possible, to burn those calories and maintain healthy circulation. Try lunging, or ‘ride and lead’, if time is tight.
  • Feed NAF Five Star Laminaze daily to give a natural spring in their step. Laminaze provides targeted nutrition, including live probiotics and digestive clay for essential gut support, working in synergy natural herbal support, magnesium for glucose metabolism and bioavailable sulphur from MSM, so important for maintaining the di-sulphide links within the essential laminae.
  • Five Star Laminaze should be fed daily throughout the season to those known to be at-risk, as part of an overall health and fitness regime.
laminaze products

Healthy Gut, Healthy Horse!

pro digest

Some people worry about how their horse will cope with winter, whereas for others it’s a chance to get that summer weight off.  Whether looking to maintain or gain weight then it’s vital that the gut is in optimum health.  If their digestive system is struggling, their coat is unlikely to gleam, their hooves can be in poor condition and weight loss, loose droppings and problems as wide ranging as laminitis, gastric ulcers and even colic can become a concern. These issues can often raise their head as winter drags on and the fresh grass and spring sun seems a long way off.

The horse has evolved to trickle feed for 16 – 18 hours a day on a variety of forages to provide themselves with enough nutrients to survive.  Unfortunately, modern feeding practices are unlikely to follow this pattern and winter routines can make it even more difficult to achieve this.  More typically they provide large irregular meals, based on cereals with restricted access to forages, and in certain circumstances long periods of time with no forages available. This can result in problems directly affecting the digestive system such as colic, digestive upsets such as loose droppings and gastric ulcers, but can include laminitis and EMS, stress, poor performance and stereotypies.

To help improve the digestive health of our equines the most important element of their diet is forage.  Basing the diet on a minimum forage intake of 1.5% of bodyweight, provides the optimum amount of fibre.

In addition to providing enough forage, the diet should be balanced with vitamins, minerals and trace elements and ingredients to support optimum gut health. Key ingredients to look out for include Mucilage, Prebiotics and Probiotics which all help to support the digestive system, read on to find out more…

Mucilage, or soluble fibre

Can be particularly beneficial in a horse with inflamed mucous membranes and absorbs moisture within the stomach and can form a soothing layer, reducing the effect of excess acid on the stomach wall which may reduce the risk of gastric ulcers.  Slippery Elm and Seaweed Meal are two sources of mucilage to look out for.

A prebiotic yeast extract (containing MOS, Mannanoligosaccharides)

Will help to flush pathogens out of the gut and Beta-glucans will help to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria resulting in a healthier balance of bacteria in the gut.

Probiotics are live yeasts based on Saccharomyces cerevisiae which are functional in the hindgut. They pass through the stomach and small intestine and help to maintain healthy hindgut function and reduce the risk of digestive discomfort.  They cannot colonise the hindgut and so need to be fed daily for sustained benefits.

Horslyx Pro Digest Balancer has been formulated to support optimum digestive health from the stomach to the hindgut and includes these key ingredients of mucilage (slippery elm and seaweed meal), prebiotics and probiotics.

Pro Digest Balancer will also balance the nutrient deficiencies in forage and grazing with an optimum level of vitamins, minerals and trace elements plus the above key ingredients in a single tub. The spiced apple flavouring encourages even the fussiest of feeders and the action of licking enhances saliva production which helps buffer stomach acidity. With increased magnesium levels and a low starch content, Pro Digest Balancer is suitable for any equine, but is especially suited for those prone to digestive upsets.  In addition, the free access lick encourages a natural trickle feeding pattern that allows the horse to self-regulate and consume Horslyx as and when they need it leading to better digestion, less stress and a happier, healthier horse.

Pro Digest Balancer is available from selected Carr’s Billington Country Stores in 650g, 5kg, 15kg and 40kg sizes.  For further information visit Horslyx.com