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4 acres - hay or pasture?

This is a discussion on 4 acres - hay or pasture? within the Farm Forum forums, part of the Barns, Boarding, and Farms category
  • How to divide 4 acres converting wooded area into pastures
  • Renting out acreage for horses as well as letting them use hay from other pasture

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    12-04-2012, 05:16 PM
  #11
Green Broke
The field is going to grow X amount of hay, whether you let them eat it as it grows or cut and bale it, your production will be about the same. Using it for hay will incur the additional expense of harvesting.
More cost effective to let em eat it in place.
Sayign that. 4 acres is gonn aget mowed down pretty good by 2 horses, 4 will over graze it. Id also look into zoning laws. Many places are putting acreage and setback limits on horses. If I knew I wanted to keep 2-4 horses I wouldnt even consider less than 10 acres of grass. NOT buying hay all year is a big money saver.
     
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    12-06-2012, 07:45 PM
  #12
Green Broke
Need to log off here, but it sounds like you're thinking and planning everything very well - my only little bit of advice is to buy (mine was a few dollars on Amazon) or check out @ your local library the "bible" per say on this topic titled, "Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage" by Cherry Hill. It's quick, easy reading and chock full of excellent advice. Best of luck! :)
     
    02-19-2013, 07:55 PM
  #13
Foal
I'm in the same boat. Trying to decide if I want to find somebody to hay half of my property.

The first thing you need to look at is: is there anybody close by that does hay in the area? A lot of people won't haul all the tractors over to do just a tiny portion of hay. I know a lot of people who do hay, and they say if it's less than 4 or 5 acres, it's not worth it for them, or they charge a lot more.

The other thing to keep in mind, I hay my folks property, which is just under 5 acres of hay. I get 230 bales (50-60lbs each) off of it. Due to our grow season, and since we don't irrigate it, we get one cut only. That's plenty for my 3 horses to winter on, and I sell some. But that's 5 acres. Does your property grow densely? If it's thin grass, or sparce, then you might find it not worth cutting. It's hard to say though for sure.

Maybe try it one year, and decide from there?
     
    02-23-2013, 02:06 PM
  #14
Foal
Jillybean,
We are in the Pacific North West also. We bought a little farm that is 11 acres. We have about 6 acres that we could have turned into hay. I was looking into getting USED hay equipment.
A used rotary hay cutter attachment would cost about $3000.
A used hay rake to wind row the hay are about $1500.
The baler, used is about $3500 to $5000.

So already I was way up there in price. $9000 would be a LOT of hay just bought from someone. So I asked a friend that is about 11 miles down the road about if he would hire out to cut our hay. And he has all the equipment - he grows oats and barley and bales the straw. He has hired out before to hay other people's fields, but they have a bunch more acreage than we do, making it much more cost effective for him to do it.
He said, that with the cost of fuel, time, etc that it wouldn't be worth the outcome for us to have him do it. And he didn't know anyone else right near us that would want to do a little field for us either.

So I decided to just divide up the pasture we have and rotate the horses so a couple paddocks get a rest and grown while one or two others are being grazed. That way I don't have to feed a stem of hay, unless we go over night camping with the horses.
I can often find hay for $3.50 a bale near me. So I am just going to stock up for the winter and call it done.

Now when we lived in Northern California, The *real* Northern part, like almost to Oregon, we had a 6 acre irrigated hay pasture. We had the guy a mile down the road come with his combine and cut, flip, and bale it. He would even gather it up in a hay buggy and put the stacks of hay in our hay barn. He would charge us $200? I think we got three cutting and they were about 2 tons each cutting. But the growing season there is about to start in April. And it lasts until around October sometimes...
     
    02-23-2013, 08:03 PM
  #15
Foal
Gosh, that sucks. We are in northern Washington. Lots of farm land around us. The property at my moms that I have cut for myself cost me $3.25/ bale this year. Lucky for me, it was recently seeded by the guy who used to cut it for himself (before his doc told him that age 85 is too old for haying as many fields as he does, lol) so I turned around & sold my hay for $6 a bale. Lol. My total overhead for 3 horses hay this winter was about $250. Score!
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    02-23-2013, 08:49 PM
  #16
Cat
Green Broke
We are in Kentucky. Have 5 acres w/ house, barn and small arena on it. Everything else is in pasture and we buy hay. Found it is much more cost effective that way. Even if you get farmers to hay it for you they either want 1/2 or charge you for their work. Might as well put that money towards purchasing extra hay and let the horses use the fields. And no matter which way you go you still need to fertilize, lime, and weed control.

We have a dry lot that connects to a tract around our pasture. It lets the horses get a lot of movement while dry lotted but keeps them off the grass when we don't want them there. The term paradise paddock I think is what a set up like this is called - you might want to look it up.

We have our pastures divided into 2 pastures, and a smaller 3rd side pasture due to how our land lays around the house. We rotate the horses on these lots for best maintenance of grass.

Here in KY - I can maintain 4 horses on 4 acres (about what we have in pasture) from May - November with no extra hay. As long as its not a drought year. The rest of the time time I supplement with round bales. It takes managing the land, but it can be done in the right locations. I've even had more equines on this land and been able to maintain with just minimal hay supplementation through the summer as well. But the more animals per acre - the more work it is to keep usable pasture.
     
    02-23-2013, 08:51 PM
  #17
Cat
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d    
Sayign that. 4 acres is gonn aget mowed down pretty good by 2 horses, 4 will over graze it.
Depends on location and management of the land. I have 4 horses and own 5 acres - including house and such. For 8 years now the only time I've had to buy hay in the summer is during a drought year. Otherwise with rotational grazing I have had good grass for them until late fall.

On the other hand when I was looking at possibly moving out to Wyoming I was being told at least 10-20 acres per horse!
     
    02-23-2013, 09:07 PM
  #18
Showing
If you can find someone to cut and bale the hay, that will cost you 2/3 of the hay crop. That's only if that person needs hay. You are anticipating four cuttings. That requires a lot of fertilizer. Someone has to put it on the fields, another expense. If you opt to pastue 4 horses on it they will make short work of the grass once the growth slows down. You don't want them on it during the day during optimal growth because of the founder factor.
     

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