On Mythbuster Monday, we tackle a variety of equestrian myths to either bust or confirm. Today’s discussion: Is it safe for horses to eat grass clippings?
It’s Mythbuster Monday, where Horse Nation dives into different equestrian myths and provides research-based evidence to either bust or confirm those myths. Today’s topic: Is it safe for horses to eat grass clippings? How long should they wait before eating them? What are the side effects? Read further to find out!
Myth: Horses can eat grass clippings
Myth or Fact: Myth
It’s pretty self explanatory what grass clippings are. They are the cuttings that are left behind after mowing the lawn or brush hogging the pasture. But, can you leave them laying in your fields for the horses to eat after cutting?
According to an article by The British Horse Society, many horses have died due to eating lawn clippings that owners have thrown into the pasture after mowing the yard. In their article they pose the question, “Horses eat grass so what’s the problem with feeding grass cuttings?” The risks to horses include choking, colic, laminitis, poisoning, and ingestion of lawn products.
RSPCA Australia, in their article, discuss the dangers of the fermentation process of freshly cut grass. They state that because the grass is already chopped up into small pieces, the horses do not need to chew them. This means the horses are not mixing the clippings with saliva so they reach the stomach fermented without being diluted from the saliva. The gas they then give off in the stomach can cause severe bouts of colic.
This article also brings up the inability for the horses to smell and pick out plants in the pile that are poisonous to them. Also, many lawn care products are deemed unsafe for horses and with the grass being so chopped up, the horses won’t be able to detect them in the pile.
Kentucky Equine Research put out an article titled, “Lawn Clippings and Horses.” In this article they state that consistency is key with horses. For many horses, eating the same diet daily and at the same time allows their digestive system to adapt and perform well. When you add grass clippings to the diet, even if you know what’s in them, you could cause upset to the horses gastrointestinal tract. This is because it can cause an upset in the balance of the microbes in the hind gut. Also, grass clippings are highly fermented. When ingested, this produces increased amounts of volatile fatty acids.
In the article, they also discuss the possibility of chemical exposure. Some fertilizers and weed-control products are not safe for horses. The article suggests feeding horses apples and carrots as a snack instead of throwing horses bagged grass clippings.
Overall, research shows that you should refrain from feeding horses grass clippings. Horses could colic, choke, or show signs of toxicity. Even if you think the clippings are safe to feed, changing a horse’s diet suddenly could create complications in the horses gastrointestinal tract. If you want to treat your horse, give them an apple or carrot instead.
Do you have an equine myth you’d like us to tackle? If so, send it our way! Email your suggestions to [email protected]. Put Mythbuster Monday in your subject line.