Herd of horses
From time immemorial, horses gathered in herds in order to ensure safety, communication and procreation. In the conditions of domestic horse breeding, the ancient instincts were not forgotten. Below we consider the features of herd horse breeding as the oldest method of keeping horses.
What is a herd in domestic horse breeding?
In horse breeding this term refers to a group of horses that are kept together. The composition of the herd is formed based on the goals of the horse farm, by such parameters as gender and age.
In horse breeding there are such herds:
- young animals;
- manufacturing stallions.
Herd animals differ from those contained in the stables with better health and stamina, less susceptibility to diseases, uneven growth of young animals, and externally with denser skin. Like any animal community, the herd is characterized by the presence of subordination relations, that is, hierarchy.
Did you know?In horses, as in humans, there are 4 types of temperament: sanguine (strong, balanced, motile), phlegmatic (strong, balanced, inert), choleric (strong, unbalanced) and melancholic (weak, with reduced working capacity).
By nature, their horses feel comfortable if they clearly know their position in the social structure. For some, submission is more convenient, while someone needs to be a leader.
If a horse (without leadership inclinations) finds himself in a situation where she has to assume the leading role in the herd (for example, due to the temporary absence of a real leader), then she experiences severe stress, performing an unusual role for her.
The dominant position in the herd is occupied by the most experienced and wise animal, which maintains order among the congeners.Horses often have a non-linear hierarchy, when, for example, an old dominant mare surrenders, transferring the “reins” to a younger and more energetic, but at the same time, in some extreme situations (when the new leader lacks experience) leads a herd behind him, and in a calm atmosphere he obeys again.
Important!Aggression is not related to maintaining a hierarchy. Lower-ranking horses themselves follow the higher ones and yield to them. The dominant is usually calm and confident.
Unlike wild herds
In the wild, the stallion is the undisputed leader (he usually follows behind everyone, ensuring safety), and the alpha mare is the leader leading the herd. A person intervenes in the order of domestic herds, dividing animals according to the principles he needs (often mares, geldings and producers are kept separately from each other).
Mature males never graze with uterus and foals.
Accordingly, unlike wild herds, both a mare and a gelding can act as a leader at home. Wild herds are usually smaller in size, and the mares in them can become pregnant only in the spring (while the domestic ones give birth out of season).
Advantages and disadvantages
Herd content has both positive and negative features, compared with stable.
- The pros include:
- the presence of animals in the natural environment;
- communication of horses among themselves;
- health promotion, in particular of the musculoskeletal system due to constant movement;
- lower financial costs for feed (due to grazing in the pasture);
- the rapid pace of development of young animals;
- greater resistance to diseases and environmental conditions.
- Nuances of herd content, which can complicate the work of the horse breeder:
- extensiveness (herd demand for large land areas, from 35-50 ha per uterus with litter);
- the need to choose the right field and fence, to clean the pasture from poisonous plants;
- if there is no reservoir in the pasture, you need to bring enough water to the horses yourself;
- weather dependent.
Features of herd horse breeding
The technology of this type of home horse breeding includes:
- picking herds;
- livestock accounting;
- control of feeding and watering;
- catching horses;
- stretches to other grazing;
- reproduction of livestock.
Special structures are being created to improve the conditions of detention (lulls to protect from adverse weather conditions, bases for inspection and veterinary measures, sheds for weaning foals and sick animals, watering places).
When year-round grazing is used, only grasses are grazed during feeding, animals are fed only in extreme weather conditions.
The cultural and herd form provides for feeding with concentrates, hay, and root crops with a decrease in pasture productivity, including in winter. Consider the characteristics of pastures depending on seasonality.
- In the cold season you need to be especially careful about the process of bleeding. At the beginning of winter, preference is given to beams and valleys, which will be the first to be covered with snow and will be inaccessible, then go to areas farther from buildings, and at the end of winter, when snowstorms become more frequent, the herd grazes closer to lulls and wintering. With ice and long snowstorms, hay is fed.
- In the spring grazing occurs first in more elevated areas where snow has already melted, and then in pastures near water bodies. Spring herbs that prevail in the herd's diet: dandelion, sow thistle, knotweed, bulbous bluegrass, alfalfa, coaster, fescue, plantain.
- In the summer heat due to grass burning out, the horses ’diet is impoverished, so for grazing you need to choose areas in floodplains of rivers, grassland meadows, in places of drained lakes. In the first half of summer, alfalfa, ryadvin, meadow rank, melilot, astragalus, sage, and meadowsweet serve as food. In mid-summer, grasses stop vegetation due to high temperature and horses switch to shrubs (chytnik, blackberry) and sedge from riverine slopes and moist meadows.
- After the autumn rains the vegetation comes to life, the aftergrowth grows (grass is the field of the first mowing or grazing). Horses are transferred to cereal and wormwood pastures.
The average horse feed requirement is 20 kg per day.
Most often, herd mating is used in herd horse breeding (a jamb is selected for the producer stallion - a brood group of 20-30 mares, and he spends the entire random season with them, usually lasting the entire period of good herding, that is, April-July).
The advantages of this method in saving labor and higher fermentability. The disadvantages are the strong fatigue of the stallion.
Two other methods - cooking and hand mating - are not so energy-consuming for a stallion, but for them it is necessary to erect additional structures, in addition, they do not give such a high fertility as a mowing.Producers in a random period need to be fed to maintain strength, giving up to 6 kg of oats per day. For mares, they are chosen for at least three years old. Basic rule: the stallion must be a class higher than random mares. All dates and transactions must be strictly recorded in special statements.
Pregnancy (foal) in a horse lasts about a year. The foal usually occurs in the pasture, and in bad weather in special sheds.About a month before the foal appears, the mare becomes apathetic, does not tend to other animals, and, at the same time, can be aggressive if they get too close to it.
A few hours before the birth, the mare separates from its group a fairly large distance (about a kilometer), lies on its side and produces a foal. Most often this happens at night.
Usually the whole process takes about half an hour. Medical help to the mare is not required, except in very severe cases. The umbilical cord is cut in the foal and the cutting edge is sanitized.
Grazing herds with young animals
Foals graze with a herd of flocks. It is advisable to choose for them areas with the most lush green grass (cereal meadows, lowlands, wormwood pastures), since males need especially nutritious and vitamin fodder when feeding.
Important!It is necessary to ensure that the uterus drink clean water at least twice a day, because a lot of the liquid goes to the formation of milk.
After 9 months, the foals are weaned from their mothers, form heterosexual herds and place them on special bases so that they get used to people and to each other. During this period they are given hay, concentrates. Sometimes several old mares are launched into the base so that the youngsters behave calmer.Immediately after weaning, animals cannot be released into the pasture, otherwise they will scatter in search of mothers.
Spring and autumn bait, or, as it is usually called, feeding is an active fattening on grazing with the most juicy and nutritious green grass (alfalfa, sweet clover, ryegrass, fescue) to increase meat productivity.
After winter and summer drought, horses usually lose weight, so feeding schools are distinguished within the herd (to simplify monitoring of body weight and feeding progress). In terms of feeding, it takes from 1.5 to 3 months.
It is best to graze a feeding stock on pastures near a watering hole, changing plots after etching 50% of their area and controlling the drinking regime. With a deficiency of fresh juicy herbs, the school is also fed with silage, hay, root crops and concentrates. As a mineral additive, lick salt is used.
How to frighten off a herd of horses?
In a relaxed state, pinching grass surrounded by relatives, the horse seems indifferent to the world around him, its sensory receptors, it would seem, do not focus on anything specific. But this is a misleading impression, the animal is always on guard.
Predators in her genetic memory attacked from shelters on the ground, so any rustle in the grass can frighten more than the roar of the engine or the sound of thunder, and then the horse will take flight, and after it, it is very likely that everyone else will.This is a vivid illustration of the innate communication within the herd: if one horse feels the danger, others also begin to get nervous and neigh. Tension and sudden movements make the whole herd run.
Did you know?Horses have an acute sense of smell, which allows the rider to feel nervous. In ancient times, the owners of a slow-moving bucephalus rubbed their hands with incense. The sense of smell also helps blind horses to orientate themselves in space.
For successful interaction with such sensitive and demanding animals, a person needs to understand their hierarchy and social structure. Horses have a highly organized nervous system and excellent memory.
It is important for them to maintain a high level of emotional and psychological comfort, which is facilitated by the constant communication of animals with each other through sounds and gestures.