How Do Grazing Muzzles Help Pasture Management?

Pasture management isn’t much of an issue for horse owners who are fortunate enough to have between 2 and 4 acres per horse in their herd. Even more fortunate are those who have several fenced pastures that can be rotated to allow a rest period. These are ideal conditions for maintaining healthy pastures.

However, the vast majority of horse owners must rely on careful land stewardship to maintain the resilience of their more limited acreage. The costs of pasture management are varied, including fencing, seed, fertilizer, tractor maintenance, soil enrichment, mowing, and most of all, time. Most horse owners keenly feel the pressures placed on land by the trampling of horse hooves, waste accumulation, and the demands of regular grazing.

Grazing muzzles protect young and short grass from being stripped 

Grazing muzzles help horses and pastures

Not only do grazing muzzles minimize the health risks of overgrazing in horses, such as obesity, colic, and laminitis, they also help ease the burden of pasture management when land is at a premium. Grazing muzzles restricts a horse's grass intake anywhere from 30-80%, which means that more horses can graze on fewer acres and over a longer period of time.

From a farm stewardship perspective, using a grazing muzzle helps preserve grass, retain better soil quality, and discourage the growth of weeds. And a muzzled horse cannot strip grass to the root, thus a muzzle can improve pasture resilience and recovery time.

The Wyndham Oaks experiment

Stables and other boarding facilities are taking notice of the usefulness of grazing muzzles in pasture management. Located in Boyds, Maryland, Wyndham Oaks is a facility that has 80 acres and houses 70 horses. As picturesque as the landscape is, beauty doesn’t feed horses. According to barn manager Sarah Borns, one of the greatest challenges they face is finding time to rest pastures.

Already using grazing muzzles on several of their horses for health reasons, Wyndham Oaks wanted to find out if there were any differences between pasture grazed by muzzled and non-muzzled horses. They turned out two sets of horses on identical 1.3-acre paddocks. One set of horses wore GreenGuard Grazing Muzzles, and the other did not. 

Wyndham Oaks Farm in Maryland

Borns reported that the paddock with muzzled horses maintained noticeably higher-quality grass and forage variety. As a result, the farm now rotates their muzzled horses through different paddocks as a pasture management strategy.

A useful tool for pasture management

From mowing and weed control to soil nutrients and seeding, there are a number strategies necessary to keep pastures healthy. Most people know about grazing muzzles for equine weight management, but they can also be a great tool for pasture management as well.

Compared to the costs of typical pasture management practices, grazing muzzles are a comparatively minor expenditure that can make a massive difference to horses and pastures. Fit your horses with a quality grazing muzzle and you'll be investing in both the health of your horses and the land they graze on. 

*This essay originally appeared in the 2020 Ohio Equestrian Directory