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Feed the Natural Way with Eco Nets

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   June 30, 2011 08:07

Feeding horses the way nature intended…

Eco Nets are ‘Small Mesh Hay Nets’ (SMHN) or restricted free-access feeders.

Using an Eco Net challenge’s the horse to engage his brain to get the hay; this creates curiosity and less boredom. The benefit to the horse owner is that it extends the feeding time, without using more hay. Horses in nature browse and graze throughout the day, best utilizing their digestive system. Horses in stalls or pens are usually fed 2-3 times a day and this taxes their digestive system. By using an Eco Net, you extend the time it takes to consume their ration, thus feeding in a more natural way.

Use Eco Nets to offer ‘restricted free-access’, where they learn that they will never run out of feed (similar to horses on pasture). Provide more nets than there are horses (or use our round bale nets) and never let them run out of feed. The horses will learn that their food is always available and the stress associated with getting or guarding food will go away.

Shod Horses: fill and securely close the Eco Net using clips or the cord provided. Please hang the Eco Net, with the bottom of the bag at least chest high on the horse.

 Barefoot Horses: fill and securely close the Eco Net using clips or the cord provided, then toss into their pen. They really enjoy pushing the net around and picking up any hay that may fall out. After eating the hay the Eco Net becomes a play toy, when you go to refill you never know where you’ll find it!

our website is underconstruction so please check out our facebook page.... 

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eco-Nets/208301222548353

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Healthy Horses Make for Healthy Watersheds

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   June 29, 2011 08:45

Image of a Watershed

 

By Patricia Lowe, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority

 

What do healthy horses and healthy watersheds have in common?  More than you think, when you look at the natural environment that hosts equine businesses in rural communities across Ontario.  One way to better understand that environment, which is made up of land and water resources, is to divide it into geographical units called watersheds.  A watershed is simply an area of land upon which melting snow and rainwater drain into a common body of water like a creek, lake, pond or river.  Homes, businesses, farms, forests, hamlets, towns and cities are all an integral part of any given watershed.  What happens on the land associated with those types of activities, can have a negative or positive effect on the health of the environment and its associated watershed.

 

The equine industry relies on local land and water resources within a watershed to operate their hobby or business.  Those resources are well protected by landowners who take action through positive stewardship activities.  While the benefit of these activities ensures livestock health, it also creates a healthy network of wetlands, creeks, forests and meadows found in our watersheds. 

 

Just what are these positive stewardship activities you ask?  These are simple steps taken by landowners like you, to improve land management practices. A stewardship project, depending on the location and existing natural features of a property or farm, could involve fencing off a local water course, providing alternative drinking water sources for livestock, employing good pasture management practices, storing manure properly at a safe distance from wells and creeks and finally, planting native trees and shrubs along waterways and pastures to filter, recycle and trap nutrients before they enter the water.  The benefits to your horse from these actions, as well as you, your family and your neighbours “down watershed” of your land, are significant.

 

Stewardship projects typically require a small financial investment on the part of the landowner.  Additional or matching funding and free technical expertise are available from a variety of local stewardship programs including Conservation Authorities.  Conservation Authorities (CA’s) are in the business of managing watersheds and may offer financial incentives to equine owners to encourage and support the implementation of stewardship projects on private land.  Not sure which of the 36 Conservation Authorities you should contact to begin a stewardship project on your property?  Check out the provincial map and contact listing on the Conservation Ontario website at www.Conservation-Ontario.on.ca. 

 

This article has been prepared by the Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Ontario Equestrian Federation’s Horse Facilities Council, Uxbridge Horseman’s Association, Ontario Trail Riders Association, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and various Conservation Authorities. Funding for events organized by this committee has been provided by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association from the Nutrient Management BMP Demonstration Grant funding project.

 

For more information please visit: www.equineguelph.ca/healthylands.php

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Healthy Horses and How to Protect Water Resources on Your Land

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   June 29, 2011 08:32

Buffer Project Before

 

Buffer Project After


Livestock Fencing and Vegetation Buffer

 

By Patricia Lowe, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority

If you are fortunate enough to have a creek, wetland or seasonal water course running through your pasture, you likely have already taken steps to fence out your horses, provide an alternative drinking water source and naturalize the ribbon of land along it with native trees and shrubs.  By taking action and stewarding your land in this positive way, you are ensuring your horse has a safe clean source of drinking water, limiting the risks associated with walking up and down unstable creek slopes and of course, protecting the natural environment. 

 

The natural vegetation along a creek or waterway contributes to the healthy watershed guidelines targeted by Conservation Authorities across the province.  Science tells us that having 75 percent of a streams length naturally vegetated with a 30 metre wide buffer, is ideal for watershed health. If the majority of plant species in this buffer are native, it will attract birds that will consume nuisance insects.  In addition to the birds, you will also attract beneficial insects to pollinate yours or your neighbours crops.  Some of those insects also provide sustenance for the fish found in your local creek or waterway. 

You could stop right there with an impressive list of environmental benefits from stewarding and maintaining a natural buffer on your land, but there is another very important service it provides to watershed health.  Horse urine and manure can contain a variety of synthetic and natural medications that horses receive as part of their general health care.  These end up in manure piles, pastures and other areas of your farm and are eventually carried by surface water to your local stream or water course.  While the research on the effects of those medications on aquatic communities is in the early stages of development, fisheries biologists are reporting significant concerns. Common de-worming medications may pose serious health threats to aquatic species. Vegetation buffers along a watercourse provide a natural solution to trapping those contaminants and contributing to improving overall watershed health.

To find out more about stewardship programs available to help you improve the natural buffers around water features on your land, contact your local Conservation Authority.  Not sure which of the 36 Conservation Authorities you should contact, check out the provincial map and contact listing on the Conservation Ontario website at www.Conservation-Ontario.on.ca. 

This article has been prepared by the Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Ontario Equestrian Federation’s Horse Facilities Council, Uxbridge Horseman’s Association, Ontario Trail Riders Association, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and various Conservation Authorities. Funding for events organized by this committee has been provided by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association from the Nutrient Management BMP Demonstration Grant funding project.

For more information please visit: www.equineguelph.ca/healthylands.php

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