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Horses per acre?

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  • How many pounds of horse per acre
  • Can 2 miniature horses live on 1/3 acre

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    05-11-2012, 05:56 PM
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We have a 35 acre farm with 39 (including three boarders, seperate pens) horses, Ofcourse, 24 of these are under 40" tall (miniature horses, donkeys, and a few ponies/shetlands), and we do not permit them to graze. All of our minis live on a dry lot with free choice hay and grain- and a short amount of grazing time in the summer and fall.

Our farm is divided up into three group pastures, a quarentine stall, and three stud pens. The first group pasture is 3 acres and holds 9 miniature mares. It gets very muddy at times though.

The second group pasture is our full sized horses- its 14 acres and has our ten full sized mares and a filly. Its divided into three and we rotate it weekly. It isnt a dry lot.

Our other pasture is about 12 acres and has our mini geldings and full sized geldings in it. That's seven full sized geldings and ten minis. Part of it is sacrifice lot, part is pasture.

Stud pens (for one jack and two stud miniatures) are each 3/4 of an acre.

It works for us, but remember that one pasture is completely dirt and most of our horses are under 300 pounds. We also go through four round bales of hay a week. If you're wanting grazing land, theres no way that 2.5 acres is going to work. If you're willing to pay a lot for hay, go for it. If not, you need to really rethink this.
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    05-11-2012, 06:12 PM
As far as hay, I feed good quality round bales that are 800 - 1000 lb each. I use a covered feeder to control waste, and from November - March when there's no nutrition in the grazing. I feed one every 10 days. So that's 80 - 100 lbs/day, or the equivelent of 1 1/2 - 2 square bales. For 2 horses and a tiny pony. Call it 2/3 a bale a day for each horse, and 1/3 bale or so for the pony.

So I think you need to seriously rethink your hay estimate as well, unless you plan on feeding lots of beet pulp or some other sort of forage substitute.
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    05-11-2012, 06:52 PM
If the bales are 65 pounds, and the horses average 900 pounds at an ideal weight, then they are being fed approximately 1.5% of their body weight daily, which for a horse that is not a hard keeper is enough, especially as she said she also feeds grain. Without seeing the horses, I don't think its possible to say that she's underfeeding just from her statement.
    05-11-2012, 08:43 PM

Nowhere did I, or anyone else say, that she was underfeeding.

As I understand her original post, she's asking if her hypothetical future pasture and feeding plan were adequate.

Again, as I understood it, she was saying she was planning on feeding *one* 65 -75 pound bale per day for 5 horses turned out 24/7 on 2.5 acres and being fed grain one time per day.

Since 5 horses on 2.5 acres will mean no useful grazing or forage, I am saying that the proposed hay isn't adequate. I stand by that. If she is, in fact, saying she's feeding one bale *per horse per day* then the hay is adequate, but the rest of the proposed situation is still not workable.

If it's the lower amount of hay, and they're only being grained once per day, even with beet pulp or other forage extenders, it's still an iffy plan because you'll have extended periods when the horses have nothing in their digestive tracts.

If I've misread the OP's original post; or if I misunderstood what was being proposed about hay; then I'll revise my opinion.

ETA: Check your math. A 65 # bale is 7% of a 900 # horse's body weight. And the 65# bale divided 5 ways is 13# per horse, or 1.4% of body weight - still not enough forage, IMO and IME.
    05-11-2012, 10:42 PM
How many units per acre you can have is up to the area that you live in.
A unit = a cow/calf or horse.
I do not like to have my horses crowded and allow 2 acres per horse.
That many horses on that small a place will not allow any grazing.
Even dividing it and rotating pens will not allow the grass to recover.
We feed 1 bale of hay per 4 horses of good quality hay from late Nov. To early Mar. Plus grain and our horses maintain thier weight.
The older horses and pregnant mares get more grain. None get more than 3 scoops divided in the morning and afternoon. Good luck Shalom
    05-11-2012, 10:58 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by maura    

ETA: Check your math. A 65 # bale is 7% of a 900 # horse's body weight. And the 65# bale divided 5 ways is 13# per horse, or 1.4% of body weight - still not enough forage, IMO and IME.
Minimum forage requirements on a horse is 1% to keep the gut healthy. Depending on if the horses are easy or hard keepers, quality of hay, and how much grain is fed 1-3% is typically what is required to maintain the body weight of a horse.

This year I fed rounds, but in past years when I fed squares I never fed more than 1.5% per horse unless it was really cold out. In fact, in order to keep my haflinger in ideal weight and not too "fluffy" I really need to keep him closer to 1-1.25% and no additional grain unless he is being regularly ridden.

So without knowing her horses there is no way to say that is not adequate - especially for hot weather forage. Winter time I would suggest feeding a bit more.

BTW - I have 5 acres and that includes the land our house and barn is on. I've had up to 7 horses here. It takes a lot more time and management but it can be done and you can still have grass. And if you have a sacrifice area (i.e. An area of dirt where they can be most of the time and tear up with still room to work up a trot) then there is no reason to stall because the sacrifice area works just as well. And the person before me had 13 horses here. I'm now down to 3 and its much easier but adding a 4th here shortly.

There is also a book out there called Horsekeeping on a small Acreage. Its a wonderful guide on how to do it. Totally different than how to manage a large acreage.
    05-11-2012, 11:07 PM
I don't think you could manage a pasture that size with that number of horses and keep the grass growing strong. I have 7 acres of grass and 4 horses plus 3 miniatures. They stay in a large dirt pasture with free access to stalls but are put out on grass daily. We rotate the four grass pastures.
    05-11-2012, 11:45 PM
Depending on your zoning ordinances, this could all be moot.

Some places will let you have up to 3 horses on 2 acres, but other places require 10 acres for any kind of livestock. There are 5 acre requirements, 3 acre, and sometimes depending on the ag zoning you can have up to 10 units (horses/cattle/sheep/goats) per acre.

Your first step is to check your zoning ordinances. If your area isn't zoned for what you want to do you can always petition for a zoning change, but it'll cost you upwards of $300 just to bring it before the zoning board, with no guarantee of success.

I currently live in a designated agricultural zoning area so can have as many horses as I want on my 5 acre property. However, for various reasons I'm looking to move, so have been trying to find the zoning requirements for horses in certain areas.

It's not just that each state is different, but each county within the state can have differing zoning requirements and restrictions, and you can't count on what one county deems appropriate usage if you're moving to another one.
    05-12-2012, 02:31 AM
Pasture land? Then no. Unless you graze them for 3 hours.. Everywhere I have been if you want to keep your horse out 24/7 you need a minimum of 2 acres. Dry lot? Yes.. And it probably will turn into a dry lot.
    05-12-2012, 03:50 AM
Originally Posted by maura    
And 1 bale among 5 horses per day is no where *near* enough forage, it should be 1/2 - 2/3 of a bale per day per horse.
^This is what I was referencing, but maybe I misunderstood what you were saying, or read something into it that you didn't mean.

The way I read the OP was that she was already feeding this regimen, already had this number of horses, and they were already on this amount of land, I didn't think it was a hypothetical situation.

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