Next Article in Journal
Clinical and Immunological Response in Dogs Naturally Infected by L. infantum Treated with a Nutritional Supplement
Next Article in Special Issue
Eye Blink Rates and Eyelid Twitches as a Non-Invasive Measure of Stress in the Domestic Horse
Previous Article in Journal
Effect of Acute Heat Stress on the mRNA Levels of Cytokines in Broiler Chickens Subjected to Embryonic Thermal Manipulation
Article Menu
Issue 8 (August) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Impact of Year-Round Grazing by Horses on Pasture Nutrient Dynamics and the Correlation with Pasture Nutrient Content and Fecal Nutrient Composition

Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden
Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(8), 500;
Received: 26 June 2019 / Revised: 17 July 2019 / Accepted: 19 July 2019 / Published: 29 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
PDF [1369 KB, uploaded 7 August 2019]

Simple Summary

Horse grazing may benefit biodiversity. This study compared the effect of horses grazing year-round to that of mowing on pasture quality in a forest-grassland landscape in Sweden. Twelve Gotlandsruss stallions were kept in three enclosures (~0.35 horse/hectare) without supplementary feeding for 2.5 years. Each enclosure contained three exclosures where pasture was not grazed, but mown monthly. Horse grazing increased the diversity of pasture nutrient content. Moreover, energy and protein concentrations and grass availability increased in areas grazed by horses, but decreased where grass was mown. This indicates that year-round grazing can be used to increase biodiversity, a suggestion supported by botanical observations. Nutrient content in horses’ droppings was found to correlate with nutrient content in pasture, so analysis of droppings may be used to roughly estimate the quality of pasture consumed by horses. Under the conditions studied, pasture protein content was sufficient to meet horse requirements year-round, while energy content and pasture availability may have been limited in winter. Monthly data presented here on the nutritive value of pasture can help guide the management of year-round grazing systems in the Nordic countries.


Horse grazing may benefit biodiversity, but the impact of year-round grazing on nutrient dynamics has not been evaluated previously. This study compared pasture quality in a forest-grassland landscape grazed year-round by horses with that in exclosed mown areas. Twelve Gotlandsruss stallions were kept without supplementary feeding in three enclosures (~0.35 horse/ha) outside Uppsala, Sweden, from May 2014 to September 2016. Each enclosure contained three mown exclosures, where grass sward samples were collected monthly and analyzed for chemical composition and vegetation density. Fecal grab samples were collected and analyzed for crude protein (CP) and organic matter (OM) content. There were no differences in exclosure pasture energy or CP content between enclosures (p > 0.05). In grazed areas, there were differences in grass energy and CP content (p > 0.05) between enclosures. During the three summers studied, energy and CP content increased in the enclosures, but decreased in the exclosures. By the end, biomass content/ha was greater in the enclosures than in the exclosures. Fecal OM and CP content showed moderate to strong correlations with pasture nutrient content (r = 0.3–0.8, p < 0.05). Thus, in contrast to monthly mowing, horse grazing diversified pasture chemical composition and increased its nutritive value. View Full-Text
Keywords: pasture; horse nutrition; crude protein; exclosures pasture; horse nutrition; crude protein; exclosures

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material


Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Ringmark, S.; Skarin, A.; Jansson, A. Impact of Year-Round Grazing by Horses on Pasture Nutrient Dynamics and the Correlation with Pasture Nutrient Content and Fecal Nutrient Composition. Animals 2019, 9, 500.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Animals EISSN 2076-2615 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top