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Prevent equine laminitis – opt for native grasses

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article image Native grasses prevent equine laminitis, which can lead to Founder
The team at Native Seeds explain that native grasses are ideal for horse pastures as they effectively prevent the debilitating condition of equine laminitis in horses.

Equine laminitis is a preventable illness whereby the horses hoof separates from the bone, and it can often lead to Founder.

Horses affected by the illness must be removed from pasture, and the condition causes permanent changes to the horse’s foot anatomy.

The presence of high levels of non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) in the introduced grasses present in pastures causes this condition in horses.

While sheep and cattle are able to digest NSC compounds, which include simple sugars such as fructose and glucose, horses cannot.

Native Australian grasses are high structural carbohydrate grasses that stores excess carbohydrates as starch rather than fructose and glucose, and they are thus ideal for horse pastures as they cannot cause equine laminitis.

There are various types of native grasses suitable for horse pastures, including:

  • Weeping grass: a cool season, tufted perennial grass that produces green growth all year and does not grow tall but is very dense. Have a high frost tolerance and drought resistance, medium salt tolerance, shade tolerant.
  • Wallaby grass: erect, tufted cool season grasses with fine leaves that grow to heights of 30-80cm. Have a high frost tolerance, high drought and heat tolerance, high acid soil tolerance.
  • Wheat grass: an all year green grass with a tussock habit and narrow leaves that are rough along the edges. These native grasses are extremely tolerant to frost and drought.  
  • Redgrass: a warm season grass with green and/or red leaves that can withstand long periods of drought, is dormant in winter and grows again in spring and is thus has a low tolerance to frost.
  • Kangaroo grass: warm season grass with an erect or sprawling tussock and long, thin leaves that turn from green to red/brown/purple as they mature. Have a high drought tolerance and low to moderate frost tolerance. 
  • Spear grass: cool season grass, with foliage growing from 10-30cm high, most flower in the spring, however some will flower from late winter to early summer. These grasses have a high drought resistance, low fertility tolerance and they are frost tolerant.

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