Is there a difference between Australian and NZ grass?

Yes there are differences.
In other words is the information on this website equally relevant to Australian horse owners?

The answer is yes the information is very relevant. Most of the problems are seen equally in Australian and NZ horses plus there are some additional concerns for Australian horse owners.

 It is vital to understand that the basic physiology of grass growth is the same everywhere on the planet. For instance all grasses and forage are high in potassium relative to sodium and whilst horses, like humans, are adapted to this with inherent self-regulating mechanisms to offset this problem, in many horses they fail to do the job adequately and the various weather conditions which cause potassium/nitrogen ‘spikes’ in the grass will cause health and behavioural issues in many horses.

Irrespective of grass type or species, the mineral balances or nutritional profile (and consequent effect on the horse grazing it) is influenced by a combination of the local soil, fertiliser regime, season, weather, pasture management and other feeds and supplements going into the horse on a daily basis.

As emphasised throughout this website the grass in your horse’s paddock is not a constant. It is a commonly made big mistake to ignore this fact when working out a ‘balanced’ diet for your horse.


Changes in the grass make changes in the horse.

The key is to
  • know what grasses make up your pasture and understand what happens to that grass at various times of the year and under various weather conditions.
  • Not add to the problem by feeding high potassium feeds
  • Do feed plain feeds with supplements which best dovetail with the grass (GrazeEzy, XtraCal Supreme Vit & Min)

All of the problems covered on this website under Behavioural, Neurological, Musculo-skeletal, Metabolic and Other Problems occur equally in Australia and some - Like the ‘Queensland Itch’ and ‘Big Head’.

The purpose of this website is to make this whole new learning curve easy for you. Don’t spend years stressing out and battling various issues with your horses like myself and many of my friends have, only to find out that some simple diet changes would have solved the problems after all.

About the Grass...

New Zealand’s temperate, overall cooler climate favours ‘Cool Season’ grasses with some ‘Warm season’ grasses like Kikuyu and Paspalum becoming more predominant in the northern half of the North Island.

The cooler regions of Australia are similar to NZ with rye-grass, usually Perennial or Annual, some brown-top, cocksfoot, sweet vernal, Yorkshire fog, Phalaris, Paspalum, Kikuyu and various ‘couches’ and clovers. The further north you go the more tropical the climate and the more the warm season grasses predominate. Red grass, couches, Parramatta grass, Rhodes grass and Setaria, with the latter being one of the dominant grasses of Queensland, Buffel and Flinders grass are more common in Central Australia.

The more frequent occurrence of extreme weather conditions in Australia makes it more of a challenge to keep horses healthy and well. There are far more potentially harmful pathogens:  bacteria, viruses, bugs, flies, ticks, insects, and fungi/moulds and poisonous weeds in the Australian horses’ environment than in New Zealand.


Identify your Pasture

For identifying good and bad grasses and toxic weeds:  “Poisonous Plants in the Pasture- A Horse Owners Guide” Dr Deb Bennett PhD