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Extension > Agriculture > Livestock > Horse > Research updates > Continuous vs rotational grazing

Continuous vs rotational grazing

Rotational grazing has benefits for pasture yield.

This research was summarized by Kristen Cleary, University of Minnesota undergraduate equine intern

The use of land for horse pasture must be balanced against the negative environmental effects caused by potential mismanagement of these areas. Many opinions exist about whether horses benefit more from continuous grazing of one area or from rotational grazing of many areas, but little research exists detailing which approach results in an improvement in horse health. In an effort to begin to address this issue, researchers at Missouri State University conducted a two-year study, during the summer of 2007 and the summer of 2008, comparing continuous and rotational grazing and evaluating the amount of forage that each method made available to the horses.

In 2007, 8 horses were used, and in 2008, 9 horses were used, to equalize stocking rates based on weight. The researchers found similar changes in body weight for the continuous and rotationally grazed pastures, but the average available forage was significantly higher for the rotationally grazed pastures. Not only does rotational grazing result in less detrimental effects on the environment, but this study concludes that it has additional benefits for pasture yield as well.

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