Number of Animals for 3 Acre Pasture

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Number of Animals for 3 Acre Pasture

This is a discussion on Number of Animals for 3 Acre Pasture within the Barn Maintenance forums, part of the Barns, Boarding, and Farms category

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    02-26-2013, 11:46 PM
Number of Animals for 3 Acre Pasture

Hope this is under the right heading....

Would this be too crowded:
1 horse
2 ponies
1 calf (to be sold in the fall)
3 goats (pygmies)

I've always heard the 1 horse per acre rule, but I'm not sure how a young cow (2 weeks old until about 8 months old & bottle fed in the beginning) would factor in, and then there's the goats (small, browsers).

The pasture is nice and thick in the summer (fescue grass I think) and there's bushes and trees for the goats. Hay & grain are given as needed.

In the fall, the calf will be sold and a separate goat pasture will be fenced leaving the 3 horses on 3 acres.

Would that arrangement last for about 6 months or would it ruin the grass?
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    02-27-2013, 12:01 AM
On a good year, two horses will do well on a 3 acre pasture here. They won't eat it down completely, but it isn't tall either. I had three horses on three acres before and it was not pretty. It was pretty constantly grazed down. I would definitely not suggest that many animals on it if they are not at least being put in a dry lot area at night/a few days a week.
    02-27-2013, 12:03 AM
As far as physical space goes, the 3 acres should be fine. If you hope to feed all your animals on this space, it depends on much more than just the size of the pasture. Soil quality, native plants, weeds, drainage, erosion, weather and how you manage the land will all impact how many animals a pasture will support. Three acres with the number of animals you have described will need to be managed carefully, but it is doable.
    02-27-2013, 03:01 AM
I have horses and pygmy goats that run together. I don't know if you go out and clean up the horse poop every week or not, but we don't. So, there are clumps and bunches of tall grass/weeds that the horses don't eat. So, the pygmy goats go in and clean that up. So with the horses eating the grass and the goats eating the weeds/tall yucky stuff, the pasture will be even and you wont have to mow it down.

I know that doesn't answer your question really, but I think if you have the horses and the goats together, your pasture will be in decent shape
    02-27-2013, 04:09 AM
Originally Posted by BadWolf    
Would that arrangement last for about 6 months or would it ruin the grass?
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If they have hay available to supplement the grass, they won't ruin it. On smaller places, the grass actually suffers more from the foot traffic than grazing.
    02-27-2013, 09:02 AM
It all depends in how you manage it. If you pick up manure regularly in combination with dragging or harrowing, and mow aggressively during the growing season, yes, it's doable. You would be better off cross fencing the area so you could rotate and rest the grazing. You'd be better off still if you had a small area where you could lock all the animals off the grazing when it was especially wet, or if they were in a stall or shed for part of the day.

This question gets asked often, and in a lot of different ways, but the answer is always "It depends." Depends on the initial condition of the pasture, how you manage and maintain it and a host of other factors. My general rule of thumb is the smaller the area, the more labor intensive and more expensive it is.

I'm not sure I would want to do what you're proposing, I think given the cost of supplementing hay and grain, you'd end up losing money on the calf, as you'll be paying for every pound you put on him. Raising a calf makes sense if you can put the weight on cheaply. And your scheme is a little labor intensive for my taste, you're going to spend a lot of time picking manure, dragging and feeding. Just my opinion, your mileage may vary.
    02-27-2013, 10:51 AM
We have the option fencing in another acre with a few strands of electric.... It wouldn't work for the goats, but if we moved them between the horse pasture & the dog run to keep that grass down and give the new acre to the calf.... That might do it.

Will electric only keep a calf in?
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    02-27-2013, 12:37 PM
If you want to use electric tape or wire for the calf, you'll at least want to put in solid wooden fence posts for it, and use 4 strands.
    02-27-2013, 02:00 PM
We have 15 horses on 2.25 acres split into two pastures and one small pen. There is no grass, hasn't been in 16 years, but they get hay. Granted, nine of them are minis, and it is tight, but doable. We keep manure picked up as best we can in the smaller areas and twice a year the farm down the road comes and takes the manure pile away. We are trying to cut down on bigger horses, though. Two are for sale, one may be euthed in the fall and my gelding is going to the trainer in July.
    02-27-2013, 02:05 PM
What are your local zoning laws concerning acreage requirements for livestock? Until you determine that, all the talk about what kind of fencing and how to manage manure is useless.

Where I live, the requirements are 3 acres for the first animal and 1/2 acre thereafter for each additional animal. Which means on my 5 acre place I can have 5 livestock animals.
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