Equine Nutrition Tip: Grass Clippings are Not Safe for Horses

Find out why it's not safe to feed your horse grass clippings after you've mowed the lawn.

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Are you tempted to cut your grass, then rake it into soft, fragrant, tasty piles of clippings for your horse to nibble? According to equine nutrition expert, Dr. Juliet Getty, this should be the last thing you encourage your horse to eat. It has to do with that extra step: raking.

Grass clippings that stay on the pasture after mowing, where they can dry in small amounts, are generally not a problem. But never gather them into piles to feed them to your horse. It’s partly because clippings are too easy to over-consume, and eating large amounts at one time can lead to excess fermentation in the hind gut, potentially causing colic and laminitis. Piles of clippings can rapidly invite mold to form (especially prevalent in hot, humid environments), which can lead to colic. Finally, because there is no air inside a dense pile, botulism can develop, which turns this “treat” absolutely deadly.

Further Reading
Ten Rules to Feed By

Get more equine nutrition advice from Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Wow. I know of so many people that do this. So can i pick grass from outside the pasture and hand it to my horse as a treat?

  2. Thanks for sharing this with everyone. I’ve known that for years now. But a lot of new comers to the horse world don’t and could really be hurting their best friends with kindness. It’s best to let the horse chew and cut the grass with their teeth, even hand feeding a handful of grass is not that good an idea. Please let the horse pick for him/her self. You could be picking up weeds and other poisonous things that the horse knows not to!

  3. I had read this, but wasn’t sure if it was true. I’ve always fed my horses handfuls of grass and grass clippings and it hasn’t hurt them, but then again they are on pasture all the time and are used to grass.

  4. i give my mare (last week she was a yearling) a handful of hand-cut grass with her afternoon lunch and evening dinner. we are on an acre of land where grass is getting wild everywhere outside her corral. i’ve recently bought a weed-whacker, and was planning to get her bunches of grass. but colic scares me more. in short, thanks for the warning. but is a handful of just pulled grass okay? and she gets it without the roots, too. or hould i stay with her real favorite — carrots?

  5. I agree with Dr. Getty. I knew of 2 horses that a neighbor thoughtlessly tossed grass clippings of the fence, one horse got colic and died even tho they tried to save him, the other horse a beautiful Andulusian stallion fondered, he was never the same, he finally died at age 15 yrs. People that donot know what they are doing when feeding grass clippings can kill a horse. I also think about the oil and gas fumes in the clippings, where as when you mow properly to bale the oil and gas donot touch the grass.

  6. Wow, and my mare thanks you. Our acre is getting weedy with tall grasses a couple feet high. My sister-in-law mowed some and I thought I would mow rest. And collect grasses for my mare. And give her colic or botulism! We are in southeast Texas — VERY humid.
    What I have been doing through now is to give her a treat or “dessert” when I feed her. A couple handfuls of grass that’s been pulled from top and roots picked out. Don’t know why, but her eating the roots of grass is scary. Should it be? And here in Texas, most grass is Johnson. And if not grass, then 2-3 carrots, which she loves like candy! She has been mine sine she was 4 months old (25 months ago), and does not care for sugar cubes or apples. But carrots! -yummm!
    So anyway, thanks for the warning! She might’ve spent most of August eating piles of cut grass. Then being so terribly sick. Thank you!

  7. Treat mowed lawn just like any hay field…mow, let dry (checking often and raking over to continue drying), & then I put in a home built hay press & make small easy handle bales. It all simply takes common sense. Just eliminate bad grasses and watch moisture levels.

  8. I agree. Please guys do not feed you horses grass clippings!!!! I cannot express it enough as five weeks ago, I lost my gorgeous 6mth old colt to grass clippings. The neighbor who chucked the clippings over the fence were told not to, but they did it one afternoon and I found him dead the next morning. My baby did not deserve to die at such a young age, so please do not feed it to your ponies!

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