The Buckeye State is home to more than 11.6 million people, which puts us as the seventh highest state in population. Ohio is ranked 34th in land mass with 40,948 square miles within its borders. We were surprised to learn that Ohio has a horse population of more than 300,000, with many of these located in suburban areas, contributing to the bucolic charm of counties such as ours.
In an ideal world, horses would range free, exercising far and wide while getting food and water. In reality, horses are restricted by fences, neighbors and roadways.
According to the Rutgers University Extension, a 1,000-pound horse defecates four to 13 times a day, producing approximately 37 pounds of feces and 2.4 gallons of urine daily. Horses can chew forages down to the ground and cause soil compaction. Hard, bare soil is susceptible to erosion by rain water and snowmelt. The runoff water can carry soil along with nutrients and pathogens contained in the manure to our streams, rivers and lakes.
Proper and diligent management of horses, pastures, and hayland are critical to horse health, happy neighbors and a clean environment. And just like everything else in life, it saves so much time, energy, and money to be proactive rather than reactive.
Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is hosting a one-day Horse Forage Management workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29. The workshop fee is $25 per family, which includes lunch and a notebook of excellent materials. It will be held at the Scioto Township Hall, 3737 Ostrander Road in Ostrander.
The workshop will feature an on-farm visit and pasture walk, along with the following topics: soil fertility, understanding plant growth, forage species selection, horse nutrition, pasture management and design, poisonous plants, and hay quality and storage. Whether you have one horse or a stable full of horses, this workshop promises to be packed with valuable information as well as plenty of time for participants to share their questions. The workshop will provide you an opportunity to evaluate your current operation with a fresh eye, discover options and explore ideas.
Visit the Delaware SWCD’s website for a workshop flyer at www.delawareswcd.org. The deadline for reservations is Sept. 26. Remember, we are here Helping You Help the Land.
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Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.delawareswcd.org.