Trees that are okay to plant in/around horse pasture

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Chick_a_dee, Jul 9, 2008.

  1. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Songster

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    A few of my paddocks have almost no shade in them, and I want to plant some young trees so that in a couple years they'll be big enough to give at least a little shade to the horses. The trees will be fenced off, and guarded against unwanted chewing/eating of bark but I'm not sure what trees are alright to put around horses, which are poisonous, which are not etc.

    I was hoping to plant Willow, but I've been told it's poisonous...
  2. trailhound

    trailhound Songster

    Mar 7, 2008
    I seem to remember that about willow also, but also know some people that planted willows in a wet spot in their pasture. I think they fenced it off though.

    Wild cherry is the big one to stay away from- the wilted leaves are very bad, and I think red maple. I think, but not positive that they are not poisionous, oaks might be a good choice for you for shade.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2008
  3. farmgirlie1031

    farmgirlie1031 Songster

    Apr 26, 2008
    Black Walnut is toxic also. There's a list somewhere but I can't remember where it is at the moment.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I am rather curious where you read that willow is supposedly bad for horses -- I have always been told by vets and extension agents that it is a SAFE pasture tree, and a quick google seems to bear that out.

    Willow does have a small amount of salicylic acid, related to aspirin, in the tissues, but not to the point of bothering a horse. OTOH the horse may bother the willow a bit, esp. in the sense of pruning low branches. But that's all. In my experience horses mainly graze willow branches in late winter when there is nothing else to do, or in an Aug-Sept drought if you haven't got sufficient normal grazing in your pasture and they're bored with hay.

    All you can really say against willow as a pasture tree is that they have really crappy wood and catch every disease and pest coming thru the neighborhood, and therefore they tend to self-disassemble in every good storm or blow, and you don't want large chunks falling on fences. (You may not like the cleanup chores associated with large downed limbs even if they're not near any fences).

    Unfortunately this is true of pretty much all other fast-growing trees as well (poplars, basswood, manitoba maple, etc). So if you want shade in any reasonable time frame you are probably going to have to accept the likelihood of frequent fallen branches, and just pick whatever tree best suits the soil, exposure, etcetera.

    Trees to avoid with horses (in Northeastern north america anyhow) are:

    --red maple (leaves can be toxic at some times of year, and after symptoms appear the horse may not be able to be saved) - I have heard it suggested that any maples that may hybridize with red maple, such as silver maple, should be avoided as well, although I do not believe there is empirical evidence that *typical* silver maples cause problems and I do have them in my own pastures)

    --any kind of cherry, including black cherry, pin cherrry, chokecherry, etc. Compounds in the wilted leaves convert to cyanide when eaten (fresh leaves can be eaten without general harm, but you never know when a branch will blow down or etc and produce wilted leaves that some genius horse decides to eat...)

    --black locust; the seeds are poisonous but I've never head of horse poisoning because of them - the main issue is those horrible long steel-hard thorns which can go through feet and hide and so forth and make really nasty wounds

    --really, fruit trees should not be around horses, as you can get various colic etc problems if they consume to much fruit, esp. if it is underripe. Also of course horses are not good for the fruit trees, either <g>

    --black walnut should *probably* be avoided too - I am not aware of conclusive PROOF that it is a danger in pasture (as opposed to in bedding) I have heard enough vets say they suspect it as a cause of pastured horses' colic and laminitis that I'd stay away from it, as well as related trees such as butternut and heartnut.

    (edited to add, for completeness: you also prolly don't want significant numbers of acorns, or any fruits of things from the horsechestnut/buckeye family, getting where horses can eat them -- although AFAIK it is rare that a horse will eat 'em and in most cases not actually fatal).

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2008
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    btw, here is the OMAFRA bulletin on the subject

    (while their technical bulletins are not always the final word on every single thing, it is always worth looking at what they have to say, and they have releases on a LOT of horse and farm management topics that are likely to be of use to you...)

    Good luck,

  6. SamG347

    SamG347 Songster

    Mar 4, 2007
    Apple TREES!!
  7. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Songster

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    Quote:Oooo... that made me rather happy, I love Willows and they seem to thrive here, we have a lot of Oak on the property... and by a lot, i mean A LOT, the larger trees are shooting saplings every which way, im sure we could start an oak tree farm just from saplings!

    I'd just heard somewhere Willow wasn't great for horses, but now I'm pleased as I love willow and I think it'd just look gorgeous in the field as well as serve a purpose... All the trees will be fenced off, and I don't mind clean-up as we clean our fields anyway. The Oaks we do have here, are outside pastures and the biggest are by the house so there isn't much of a chance of them getting anything from them...
  8. goldensunriseranch

    goldensunriseranch Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Mays Landing NJ
    We fenced existing woods for our horse paddocks about 10 years ago, the trees that are in there are mostly oak and hickory. They LOVE the mulberry trees. They eat all the leaves that fall. They also like the sasafrass though I've found they aren't a very strong tree and are the first to fall over in a storm, weak surface roots. The best shade is from the hickory and oaks. And the mulberry trees provide nice shade but are kind of a messy tree from all the branches that fall, and if they have berries they can get messy also. But the horses don't seem to mind that at all. They leave the black cherry and walnut trees completely alone, they are toxic but don't taste good to them at all apparently which is good. They are tagged for removal but aren't harming anything in the meantime. My horses don't seem to have a taste for acorns or hickory nuts either and leave those alone as well.
  9. lorieMN

    lorieMN Songster

    Apr 19, 2008
    birch are nice,river birch can stand a lot of water...I dont like willows as they really messy when they die off,and they seem to die off at young ages..aspens might be another good choice for you,not sure of your zone so look into that and I would say go with more native trees,you will have better luck.

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