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Sunday, 5 June 2011

Where The Green Grass Grows....

The grass is growing, the cattle and horses are getting fatter and healthier everyday. After a long cold Albertan winter many ranch animals rely on the green grass in the Spring and Summer to give them nutrients that they were lacking in the Winter months. Green Gass is a major health benefit to all animals. They gain extra vitamins that they would not have gotten from hay or other feed sources. Anybody who knows animals would know that they just can't get enough of it! Shoving every mouthful they can get in, cattle and horses go absolutely crazy for it!

It's a nice change not having to feed every animal on the farm for the few summer months. The green grass does not just benefit the animals but gives us a break too! As you can see green grass has many benefits to it for both the animal and rancher, but what many people don't know is the dangers that can come with grass and different types of it.

For instance these past few days my dads horse Sunny has been violently ill with an illness known as "tied up". Tied up happens to most horses with more of a laid back kind of breeding like a Quarter Horse. With all the new grass around we thought it would be nice to put a couple of our horses in a nice lush pen for a couple days. With that Sunny ate all the green grass he could filling his belly right full of it! Sunny being a ranch horse had to go out working the next day with my dad. Green grass is very rich and commonly makes horses more sassy than they usually are making them tougher to control. So Sunny got worked pretty hard in the fields that day with dad. The next day Sunny was not feeling well at all. He could barely move, and muscles were incredinbly sore! All the green grass and excersise can not be good for animals like Sunny making them sick. This is just one common example of how you have to be extra careful with animals on green grass. Sunny is now doing better and will soon be fully recovered. He got to spend a nice couple of days being pampered in the barn. and didn't have to rope any calves branding day!

Another common illness found in horses from to much lush feed such as grass is founder. Foundering in a horse is when inflamation of the delamination of horses wall/bone bond in a horses foot. This meaning that a horses coffin bone in their foot becomes detatched and may rotate or sink, which is extremely painful for a horse. We also have had horses on our ranch that have had this, we were lucky enough to detect it and treat it. In fact this is an illness that ranchers have to be very careful of because a horse can founder in a matter of minutes. Just from pigging out on a lush area of grass a horse or pony can develop a serious case of founder.

A common illness found in cattle and eating to much grass like alfalfa is bloat. Bloat is simply the build up of gas in the rumen. The gas is produced as part of the normal part of digestion. When this gas can not be released cattle bloat. They can die within fifteen minutes of bloating. The most visible sign is an extended left abdomen from the build up of gas. Bloat is very serious and cattle must recieve treatment fast to survive. If you ever find an animal with bloat the best thing to do is keep them moving don't let them lay down. By keeping them moving they will hopefully release some of the gas that they are building up. If the animal is still bloated a tube must be than placed down there throat to release the gas. Bloat is a very painful thing for cattle to encounter. This is a major risk that ranchers must take when releasing there cattle on lush, rich pastures.

I hope this has taught you a little bit about the risk factor involved with grazing cattle and horses on grass. Green grass is a great thing but we still must be cautious when we use it.

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