What Do You Do About Acorns in Pasture? And Ponies that Crunch Them All Day?

I have large oak trees on a small property, so not too many pasture/paddock options. Right now I’m using step-in stakes and “caution” tape around the acorned areas. Otherwise pony will stand and crunch acorns all day instead of graze.

Have you considered collecting the acorns?

They make nut collectors in a lot of sizes from little push ones to something you can pull behind a mower or ATV:


Barring cutting the tree down, or moving the horse(s), that’s all you can do, unless you want to rake/roll them up before putting them out for the day/night (which is assuming they aren’t out full time)

I rake mine up with a bamboo leaf rake-- we have a 100+ year old oak in our sacrifice paddock-- and toss them out of the horse area. A pitchfork actually will scoop them up easily, too. One of my horses loves them while they are still a bit green, the other ignores them. Thankfully, they don’t eat many of them and I can keep up with the nut fall!

Grazing muzzle until they have dropped and been collected? My greenguard would let an acorn in.

Hmmm…I had relatives in KY with huge horse pastures w/ oak trees. I remember the horses gathering under the trees and eating acorns all day long. Never seemed to be an issue and as a kid, I never thought a thing of it. The pastures still had grass, but the horses preferred the nuts. Didn’t seem to bother them and they weren’t kept off of them.

My horses run out to the hickory trees in their paddocks and scarf up any nuts that have fallen overnight. I figure it gets them plump before the cold weather comes in. Come to think of it my terriers are doing the same thing! We have a couple of paddocks with acorns and it seems some horses like them and some don’t. We worry more about them grazing under the ancient apple trees and pigging out on the fruit that has fallen and what they can reach in the trees.

Acorns in sufficient quantity are toxic. Individual horses will vary on how they handle gobbling up troves of them but they are a risk. Some years are worse than others with the windfall of acorns. I’ve always tried to rake them up daily or restrict access.


I have what are traditionally called “hard keepers”.

The more I read COTH, the more I’m convinced that hard keepers are “easy” but spendy.

My horses don’t bother with the acorns or pecans. They are too busy eating their high dollar alfalfa hay.

They occasionally try to get the wild grapevines down out of the trees (they aren’t very successful) presumably in hopes of getting grapes.

Do you have a mower with a low enough deck to kinda smush and scatter the acorns? I dunno if that would be very effective, but might be a bit easier on the back than raking them up.

I have an old snapper mower that will mow dirt with the deck dropped all the way.

Toxic - if enough ingested and can cause Liver Failure !

I know this ^ ! I have witnessed this … pony in 2013.


I use Premier1 Horse QuikFence to keep them away from the oak trees that overhang the sacrifice paddock (it gets smaller this time of year and then expands again later.)

Otherwise my big Irish horse will eat the acorns and colic. And these are the tiniest acorns I have ever seen, they cannot be raked up easily. I used to have an expanded metal sifter scoop that might have worked, but not a regular muck fork.

I scatter the horses’ manure where the acorns drop. Works like a charm.

A grazing muzzle helps too. Acorns may still get through, but it will slow them down.


They aren’t a problem, until suddenly there is severe kidney and liver disease, with little to no warning.

The horses who seem to be fine for years, shouldn’t be used as excuses (not that you’re making excuses, but some do) as to why someone else doesn’t need to worry

Some horses do seem to tolerate them much better than others, but I’d never take the chance mine were one of them.


Acorns caused my pony to colic several years in a row. I know, I know, I was a little slow on the uptake figuring it out but he was only in that paddock infrequently so it took awhile. After about the 3rd or 4th year of him getting colic in the fall, I wised up. After that he was kept completely out of that area and the acorns removed after they were done falling. No more colic after that.

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Not everyone is as crazy…devoted?..nope, crazy as I am, but…I have a persimmon tree in my pasture, and my horses are out 24/7. Persimmons, like acorns, are toxic to horses if ingested in sufficient quantities (though they typically cause impaction colic, not organ failure). So, twice a day, every day, I go out and pick up ALL the persimmons I can find and toss them over the pasture fence. Rain or shine. I’m sure my neighbors think I’ve lost my mind, but better safe than sorry. With acorns, I think a rake would probably be more efficient than hand collection, for what it’s worth.

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