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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - April 02, 2008

From: Beeville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native, invasive King Ranch bluestem and Coastal bermuda for horses
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is blue stem grass mixed with coastal good for horses?

ANSWER:

We hope we intepreted your question correctly; that you were, indeed, referring to King Ranch bluestem grass and Coastal Bermuda grass as being good for horses. For starts, we're into horticulture, not agriculture, and really don't know much about feed for animals, except maybe how to keep deer out of the garden. This AgriLIFE Extension-Texas A&M website gives you contact information for your Extension agent, and you can get better information from that source.

However, we do want to deal with the two grasses you have mentioned. Both Bothriochloa ischaemum (King Ranch bluestem) and Cynodon dactylon (Coastal Bermuda) are non-native and have become invasive in many cases. KR bluestem originated in Mediteranean Europe and South Africa, while Bermuda grass is native to North Africa, Asia and Australia. If you already have these grasses available to you, then you should depend on the Extension agent's information for their use as horse forage.

If you're planning to plant grasses for horses, you might consider native grasses. Native grasses are good for horse forage and are usually managed without fertilization. Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), and Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem) are all native grasses that should do well in your area. You might be interested in reading this website Are you feeding your horse like a cow?

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

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