Ideal size acreage? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Pacific NW
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Ideal size acreage?

My husband and I are looking for a lot to purchase next year that we plan to put a house and a horse set-up on. I'm not sure how much land would be ideal... Obviously, there's the idea of "the bigger the better", but that also comes with a bigger price tag and more maintenance that I don't think we necessarily want or need. However, I do want it to be big enough for a permanent home that can grow with us.

Here's what we plan to do with it:

Medium manufactured home - probably in the range of 1500-2000 sq ft.
Small home/yard area (I'm thinking 1/4 acre tops)
3-4 stall horse barn with tie/saddling area, tack room, and 24 ft. runs
Hay shed
Medium arena
Medium Round Pen
Pasture with shelters

Right now I have 2, possibly 3 horses. I may eventually take on 2-3 more horses, which might be mares I someday breed, but that's a VERY long shot. There's always the lure of boarding a few horses for extra income, but I may not want to ever take on that responsibility either.

Most of the acreages we're looking at are about 4-5 acres. I'm thinking this will be more than enough room for the 2-3 horses that I know I'll have (and with one acre per horse, my pasture should be self-sustaining!), and may even be enough for me to expand to a few more horses if I feed hay. I don't EVER anticipate having more than 10 horses on the property.

This will be our first time owning horses on our own property (though I grew up with 3 horses on 2 acres), so what are your thoughts on the size? What is your ideal horse property size? And is there anything I'm completely overlooking?
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post #2 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 06:33 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New Mexico
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Get as much acreage as you can afford. We have a draught, so one acre per horse as self sustaining is wishful thinking at best. If you have too much grass you can make hay, so no waste here.
If you want several pastures and pens don't forget to plan for alleys and accessibility with equipment.
Think well if where to put the barn and make sure you can add on easily without having a major construction site. You also need hay and feed storage, with easy access for heavy vehicles.
If you can, place all buildings strategically so they are easy to reach and SEE from your house.
There is so much more, but I can't think of it right now.....
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post #3 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 06:37 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: BC, Canada
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One thing you may be overlooking is, I believe that individual areas have laws about how much livestock is permitted per unit of land. If your area states that you need 1/2 an acre per horse, you're probably good with 5 acres. If your area requires more space per horse, you'll need more acreage particularly if you ever expand.
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post #4 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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I am familiar with the limit - we were only allowed to have 3 horses on 2 acres because each acre allowed you 1.5 horses lol. This is a rural area, though, and I don't believe there are livestock restrictions (I've tried to find it online, but haven't come up with anything). We'll be sure to double check that if we do decide to move on one of these properties.

I'm assuming normal circumstances on the one acre per horse statement - in rare cares, or of I decide to add more horses, i have no problem buying hay. However, it'd be nice to know that, in normal circumstances, I may benefit from having that land area.

Thanks for the comments on accounting for alleys/roads and suggestions on where to place buildings. Part of the reason I'm uncomfortable with more land is because my horses could be out of my sight! It seems the 4-5 acre lots are about at our budget limit. There is one 12-acre lot we might be able to afford for 20k more, but it's swampy land (though it has horses on it right now) so I don't think I could harvest hay. I don't intend on having a large operation worthy of heavy equipment - most of the things I plan to accomplish can be done with a 500 ATV ;) - with more land comes the possibility of overwhelming responsibility, and it's a very fine line between "fun" and "work". If 5 acres is reasonably enough to accomplish what I want to, then I think I'll want to stick to that size.
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post #5 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New Mexico
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The heavy equipment I am talking about is trucks....hay, bedding and feed.
Since you're planning on buying, its well worth thinking about before.
Btw, hubby is trying to talk me into Idaho......since Cali will be getting worse and worse.....
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post #6 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Alberta
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Not having enough acreage is potentially more work than having too much. When you have limited space, your work goes into pasture management and manure removal. It is a huge chore to have to load, haul and find a place to dump your manure every few months. Smaller pastures are easily overgrazed and then overrun by weeds. Horses also tend to be much harder on the fencing in smaller parcels, especially if the grass is greener on the other side. If you get significant snowfall in the winter, you need to have enough space to allow access to your barn and space to pile the snow.

My first property was 3 acres, upon which I kept two horses. It took a lot of maintenance, both summer and in winter. Now, I have 8 acres, which is much less work, even with 4 horses. The larger parcel is enough space to rotate grazing and ride in. The smaller acreage didn't have enough space for these things.

Layout and land use are also important. Look for something with a manageable non-horse yard space, good drainage, good water and decent soil.
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post #7 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 08:21 PM
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Around here we consider 5-10 acres the typical "mini horse farm". Big enough for your horses to have room and graze, but small enough to manage the work/maintenance.

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post #8 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 09:16 PM
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I agree with Koolio, we have 3 horses on 2 1/2 acres and it is way more work with manure removal and trying to get pasture to grow. Our pasture isn't connected to the barn which is a pain and we don't have water running to the pasture either. Alright I have to stop now I'm depressed!
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post #9 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 09:19 PM
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Personally, I have 44 acres and would happily double that if I could. The key to maintenance is to set up the acreage to require the least amount of work possible.

My entire property is fenced and within the perimeter fencing it is all divided up. The chickens have their space, the goats have their space, same with the pigs, turkeys, cows and horses. I only have to mow around the house/buildings/garden and leech field. The rest is set up for optimal animal grazing and if I have more grass than mouths, I "borrow" a herd of cows.

I actually plan the herd borrowing into our grazing schedule because the cows come with a bull and that gives me free breeding of my cows. Its a win, win... our friend gets several months of free pasture, I get my place mowed and my cows bred.

I hate poo picking, so I want BIG pastures so that all I just run the atv + drag through them. Obviously I have to poo pick the shelters though.

It's work but I have it down to where I single-handedly run our place, work nearly fulltime AND care for an 8 stall barn elsewhere.
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post #10 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 09:36 PM
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If you're talking about having up to 10 horses then, IMO, 20 acres is the minimum acreage for proper grazing. You need to be able to fence, cross fence and rotate your grazing areas so the horses don't destroy it. I currently have 5 adults and 3 youngsters (not quite yearlings) on 10 acres and because of 2 years of severe drought, there is no grazing at all. I have to hay year round now, which I have not had to do in the past. You need to buy acreage for the worst, unforseen things, rather than for optimum times.

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