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Top tips to prevent poaching in wet weather

Top tips to prevent poaching in wet weather

The wet weather is firmly here and with it comes a whole host of mud related problems. How many times have you slipped in the mud on your way down to the field to bring in your horse and questioned how mad you are to have horses in winter?


Besides the obviously unfavourable conditions that winter brings from our perspective, persistent wet weather can be hard on horses, causing conditions like mud fever. And of course, you cannot miss the glaringly obvious problem it causes in the paddocks.


Unfortunately, there is just no getting away from mud in winter. You can’t expect the now very soft ground to survive a 300kg+ animal trampling all over it without a bit of damage - but do not fret - there are many things you can do to protect your paddocks from poaching. Here are just a few:


  1. Protect the gateway - Acting sooner rather than later with this will make your life so much easier. You do not want to spend all winter battling through excessively poached gateways. What’s more, once the damage is done there is little you can do until the days get dryer and warmer again. Things you can do to protect your gateway include laying down field mats, wood chips or using electric fencing so that the same area is on repeatedly used, you can then move your paddock entrance around based on poaching.

  1. Use a plastic hay feeder - Using a hay feeder will dramatically reduce the amount of hay waste. This is particularly important in winter as wasted hay gets trampled into the mud which suffocates the soil, making it even harder for the paddock to recover even when the weather dries up. This is because the build-up of trodden down hay prevents light and oxygen getting to the soil. This in turn prevents germination, so the grass won’t grow as the weather warms. The durabale hayfeeder is lightweight and easy to move around your paddocks - a massive reason why plastic hay feeders are so great for winter. You should move your feeder about the field to prevent poaching around specific feed areas. The durable comes in three relatively lightweight, easy to join sections, meaning one person can comfortably move the feeder. Our plastic feeder has no sharp edges and will not degrade over time either as it is UV stabilised and frost proof. Over time metal hayfeeders degrade often exposing sharp edges which may cause injury to horses. The durabale is a Tombstone design which also helps to prevent bullying and is suitable for horses of all sizes including foals.

  1. Prevent access to some areas - Sectioning off areas before they become too damaged is really beneficial to the speed in which the paddocks will recover in spring. If you wait until the paddock is a sea of mud before you move your horses off that area, it will be much harder for grass to come back though. Using the duracorral is a really easy and safe way to create segregated areas for your horse. It is lightweight, tall fencing with smooth rounded edges. It’s great for creating a space for grazing that can easily be moved. While certain areas are resting, it’s also a great idea to seed these patches to give the grass the best chance at rejuvenation. The duracorral can either be used to keep horses in a restricted area or to restrict their access to a re-seeded or recovering area of ground.


  1. Use boredom breakers - What do you do with the horse that always stands by the gate (and contributes to the poached gateway…even though you’ve moved it three times)? - tempt them with treats! Using moveable boredom breakers field licks (is an excellent way to prevent your horse standing in one area of the field. You can use things like Likit, that can be hung on the fence, or a drip feeder ball that they can push around to get out the treats. These boredom breakers have the added benefit of mental stimulation if the paddock is looking rather bare and bleak. The Farm & Stable Flexiliks are also a great way to give your horse vitamins and minerals that may be missing from forage during the winter months. They also come in convenient bowls that you can simply move around your paddock to further relive the poached areas.

  1. Consider harrowing the field - If, despite your best efforts, the field is badly damaged, harrowing the field can be hugely beneficial. Harrowing helps to aerate the ground which encourages grass growth as well as removing moss, dead grass and weeds. Harrowing should then be followed by rolling, which will flatten the ground and firm up the soil structure around the roots of the grass. If you do not have the equipment for this there are many companies that can do this for you. Before harrowing you must make sure the field has been poo picked so that parasites are not spread in the soil.


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