We plan on having 2-4 horses. My horses have been hay-fed up to this point, and I don't mind continuing that. The idea of pasture is nice since they will have more room to run around. However, I'd like to go with the most cost-effective option. If I were to grow hay, I'd have a larger dry-lot to satisfy turn-out needs. If I had pasture, the dry-lot would be smaller. In addition, the horses would have limited time out on the pasture and still receive some hay and supplements in the mornings and/or evenings.
Which would be the most cost effective? I have never grown my own hay before and would hire someone to come do the heavy-machinery work like baling (It's a farming community, so I'm sure I could find someone and we even have a few friends there that grow hay). I estimate getting about 8 tons of hay per acre (4 cuttings @ 2 tons per cutting). With even 3 acres, 24 tons of hay would be plenty for my 4 horses, and any extra bales I could sell, but would it save me any money?
If I didn't grow hay, how much would it cost to make the land suitable for pasture?