Where has all the grass gone?...

18 May 2022

“But there isn’t any grass on the field…”

We hear these words a lot at this time of year, from the exasperated owners of fat horses fighting what sometimes seems like a losing battle with their horses’ weight.

Have you ever wondered why horses on a seemingly bare paddock can still gain weight?

It is worth keeping in mind, the picture of the un-grazed side of the field below. Of course, it can be very difficult for owners to monitor what a horse is taking in, but one thing is certain: when that side of the field is full of horses, it won’t look like this! That grass would be nipped off as soon as it poked up high enough to be nibbled!

Sarah Stoneham BVSc Cert ESM MRCVS gives this very good explanation of the problem which helps us to understand and monitor the amount of grass that the horse is consuming.

UK grass growth figures (grass check GB) indicate that over the last week (ending 16.5.22), average grass growth in the north west has been high. At the moment a small well-managed paddock, the size of a 40x20m dressage arena will be producing an average of 22.5kg of grass per day. The dry matter content of grass is currently only 20% which means it is 80% water, so a 40x20m area produces 4.5 kg of grass on a dry matter basis each day.
This has a calorie content similar to 4.5 kg of a conditioning hard feed. The grass is also high in sugar, 17.1% on average last week. So, the 4.5 kg of grass on a dry matter basis will contain approximately 770g of sugar! If your paddock is still looking as bare as it did earlier this year it is because your horse has eaten all the new grass each day.

So, where has all the grass gone?... it's inside the horse!

Bare Paddock V Grassy Copy