STOP! Why Feeding Horses Bulk Grass Clippings Causes Gastric Distress

Feeding horses fresh grass clippings is a mistake that could cause your horse serious pain and cost you an arm and a leg in vet bills, and that's if you're lucky.

It’s tempting, isn’t it? You’ve just mowed your lawn for the first time this spring, and the bag of oh-so-green grass would surely taste good for your equine partner. What could it hurt to just dump that bag of clippings over the fence, anyway? 

The answer, of course, is that feeding horses grass clippings, usually dumped in piles of wet, fermenting grass, can lead to gas colic, laminitis, and even impaction colic, says Joe Stricklin, DVM, of Greeley, Colorado. 

[MORE ABOUT: Equine Gastric Ulcer Prevention

“The problem with feeding horses fresh grass clippings is that there’s usually wet, and horse owners often dump a hole pile of clippings from the lawn mower into their horses’ pens,” Stricklin said. “The grass clippings are wet and fermenting, and horses will gorge themselves. That fermentation is what leads to gas colic, and it can lead to laminitis and even impaction colic, too.”

If you really don’t want to see those grass clippings go to waste, Stricklin says, you can spread them out away from your horse pens to let them dry before feeding them to your horse in small batches. 

“I don’t know how many times I’ve had a horse come in showing signs of colic and the owner said, ‘I don’t know what happened! I just gave him some grass clippings!’ It’s just a bad idea and can lead to big problems,” Stricklin said. 

Fresh grass clippings can also cause problems to cattle, so practice the same caution with your bovine stock. H&R

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