Local News

April 9, 2014

Do you know what this is?


This past week's artifact from the Nelson Pioneer Farm is a grazing muzzle.

A couple people submitted their guesses as to the identity of the artifact.

Dorothy Vos wrote in an email: “The artifact in today’s shopper is a wire guard that was placed over the nose & mouth of the work horse when the farmer was shucking corn or harvesting grain & hay.  This was put over their mouth to keep the horses from eating too much of the grain which could cause foundering.”

June Van Haaften also wrote via email: “Yes, I know.   It is a muzzle to put over a horse's nose so theycan't eat an ear of corn or  other kind of grain while harvesting.”


Nelson Pioneer Farm Curator Kelly Halbert did some research on the artifact. She wrote: “GRAZING MUZZLE

This vintage horse grazing muzzle was very common when the farmer drove his team through crop on harvesting day. The conical design, according to all of the farmers I talked with, was very common on their farms when they used horse-power to harvest the crops. The muzzle kept the animal from eating the crop. It is made of a gridded wire mesh wrapped over a conical wire frame, and top open edge stitched with canvas or leather.  It would have been fastened over the nose of the work horse. This helped the farmer in three ways – first, it kept the crop from being eaten, second, it kept the horse moving and not grazing, and third, it protected the horse from over grazing and over eating.

Modern grazing muzzles are used to limit grazing of fresh grass by on new pasture by horses and other grazing animals. Today’s muzzles resemble a tub-like basket that allows the horse to drink and eat, but limits the amount of fresh grass by blocking the amount available to the animal. The old wire muzzles also allowed the horse to drink and eat some grass, but the grain and ears of corn were too big to get through the mesh to be eaten. Many of these rusted muzzles are forgotten in barns all across Iowa.”

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