Just bought 44.5 acres :D - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 11-25-2013, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
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Just bought 44.5 acres :D

Hello everyone,

My boyfriend and I just bought a 44.5 acre property and I've been starting to do my research to get a horse (my plan is to have one next year/spring 2015). The property is 5 acres residential, 26 acres agricultural (has been harvested for hay for the last 15 years) and the rest is considered woodland. There is also 1500 ft of water-frontage. Its a little slice of heaven to say the least. I just want a pleasure horse, no competitions or jumping, just personal trail rides. I was just wondering how many acres of hay would I need for one horse for a year, also is it okay to just let horses out in hay fields? I've heard many mixed opinions on that topic. I have also been trying to come up with how much it will cost a month to keep a horse (I'm a crazy budgeter!) but everywhere I've been looking for that answer doesn't take into account that I will not be paying board and that we have an abundance of hay fields. Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks everyone :)
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post #2 of 25 Old 11-25-2013, 07:51 PM
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QUOTE=ArrowOakFarm;4181089]Hi ArrowOak - welcome to the forum. There is so much to say on this topic - heck people write books on it. To answer your questions briefly:
I was just wondering how many acres of hay would I need for one horse for a year, also is it okay to just let horses out in hay fields?
Quality of soil and vegetation plays a part in this but in general terms 2 acres per horse for summer grazing (and not having to supplement hay); if you're actually going to make hay, then in addition to the 2 acres, its about another 3 acres per horse. I have one fenced hay field that I let my horses onto after I've taken the hay off - I make sure that the horses leave that field at least three months before haying starts to ensure the grass gets good growth and the manure dries out letting any parasites in it kill off.
I have also been trying to come up with how much it will cost a month to keep a horse (I'm a crazy budgeter!) but everywhere I've been looking for that answer doesn't take into account that I will not be paying board and that we have an abundance of hay fields.
If you are buying your own haying equipment, there can be a substantial capital investment there as you would need tractor, mower, rake, baler at the very least. If you're lucky you can pick a lot of that stuff up used from farm auctions but doing it that way does take awhile to get all the equipment. If you are getting someone to cut the hay for you they may want either a share of the crop (typically as high as two thirds in some areas - maybe a half) or paid by the bale which again in general terms amounts to about one-half the cost of buying a bale. A very broad guess at hay production per acre is 1,400 to 1,500 pounds.
Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated!
After you get the haying business in hand, then we can start a discussion on fencing, shelters, companion animals
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post #3 of 25 Old 11-25-2013, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for your reply! We plan to have someone come harvest the hay, there's a few people who are interested. We just have no idea what kind of deal to make, or how much we will need to keep for ourselves. We don't want to get taken advantage of. The man who owned the property before us let someone harvest the hay for 15 years for free and he inturn would sell it, and lets just say he was less then impressed when we said we wouldn't be making that same deal.
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post #4 of 25 Old 11-25-2013, 11:30 PM
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my horses go through 100-125 75# bales each during the winter. we have 5 horses, and got 600 bales total for this winter.

we got about 1000 bales of hay off the hay field we got hay out of. (18 acres) in just ONE cutting. he cut that field 3 times. we paid $5 a bale. you do the math.

I personally would ask for $1.25-$2.00 per bale that they get off the field. Plus your hay free, or something along those lines. It all depends on the quality of hay the fields are producing as well. and the kind. we get alfalfa. its typically more expensive then grass hay.

The other option is to pay a flat fee to have someone come and cut and bale the fields, then YOU sell the hay. Or you pay $2.00 per bale harvested, and then turn around and sell the bales for whatever the market is at that point in time. $4-$8.

as far as putting a horse out on hay fields. If you have someone cutting for you, no, you dont want to pasture them on that land. you'll ruin your profit that way. also they will get fat. incredibly obese and it will cause all sorts of health issues. laminitis, colic (if rich fields), founder, insulin resistance etc.

congratulations and good luck! you just purchased my dream property!
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post #5 of 25 Old 11-26-2013, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks! You mentioned not to put a horse on a hay field, but all the land (26 acres) that's best for a horse (level, cleared, etc.) is hay fields. What would I have to do to make it good for a horse? How much should I designate just for a horse?
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post #6 of 25 Old 11-26-2013, 12:58 AM
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If it's unfertilized native grass hay you can put a horse on it. Alfalfa or clover, keep it off the hay field.

If your future horse is an easy keeper you may need to fence off a small corral to turn into a dry lot so that you can limit the amount of pasture your horse gets. Through spring and early summer mine will only get 5-6 hours out on pasture a day.
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post #7 of 25 Old 11-26-2013, 09:54 AM
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You will have considerably more land that you need for both grazing a horse and producing enough hay. As already pointed out though, if you plan to make your own hay there's a large outlay in cash for equipment (you add on a truck if you don't have one or a trailer....you really don't want to hand carry that many square bales out of a field and you couldn't carry a round bale which will also call for at least a fork attachment for the tractor of some other means of lifting it if you don't plan to just leave it where it is).

Depending on how much land you set aside for hay, how productive the land is and how cooperative the weather is you have the potential to produce much more hay that you would need. So you could sell some to help with recouping some of the cost, but don't expect for it to pay for itself any time soon (you'll figure that out when you look at the cost of just a good baler, let alone all rest)

I'd recommend getting a pasture mate for your horse. Doesn't have to be another equine (there are less expensive options). Horses are social, herd animals. They feel more comfortable and secure with another herd animal so even a goat will help meet that need.

You'll have enough land that you'll be able to practice a great rotation system that will help keep your animals and pastures healthy.
Keep in mind that even two horses couldn't hope to eat the amount of grass or hay that could come with that much land. Also, horses, unlike all the other domestic grazing animals are best equipped for eating right down to the dirt (because they have both upper and lower teeth not just lower teeth so they can snip it right at the dirt) which is why they have the ability to over graze an area quicker than any other livestock.

Partition your pasture area off. Preferably 3 or 4 sections (about 2 acres each if you just have the one horse). Put the horse on one are until the grass is grazed to less than a couple of inches long then rotate to another sections. Try to keep the grazing you're moving to at about 4-6" long (so you might need to cut them if they get too long between rotations) since you don't want your horse on tall lush grass (want to avoid grass founder as well as other things).

This rotation process will do two things for you.
1. It will keep you're pastures healthy by being grazed without being over grazed and fertile (horses doing a lot of pooping).
2. If you're rotating about every month you'll quickly have no worms to worry about and get just have the Vet do about 3 FEC at certain times during the year (my next one due next month). My horses don't get wormed and generally run between an FEC of 0 - 100 (only had 100 on one of them once). Any count under 150 is considered to low to worry about worming. Ultimately it can result in your horse becoming resistant to the worms (which is much better than the worms becoming resistant to the medication).

I know TMI . Sorry about that. Blame it on all the years I spent in my youth raising stock .
You have the makings for having what some call a nice "gentleman's farm" . I hope it all works out well for you.
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post #8 of 25 Old 11-26-2013, 10:02 AM
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Last time I did a hay cutting deal, It was , The hay cutters got 75% and I got 25% of the hay and the cutters stacked my hay in my barn.

Not stacked in my barn I got 33%
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post #9 of 25 Old 11-26-2013, 10:24 AM
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No idea about the actual haying operation of costs, how to's....

I can tell you as a kid {I am a adult} I had 1 horse, no pasture but a sand paddock attached to his barn.
I {my parents} bought hay by the ton.
My horse I would classify as a pretty easy keeper...so I used 1 ton of hay approximately every 2 1/2 - 3 months. I also fed grain.
My horse was a appendix, 15.3 hand gelding, around 12 yrs.. I rode most every day for at least an hour {trail rode}.

Hope that helps you to figure some things out.

To do a budget of "how much" you need to figure in vet and farrier costs, barn supplies and repair costs, fencing and such.
Once you have all the essentials covered you will barring no injuries or sickness just deal with monthly expenses of grain if you feed it, farrier every 6-8 weeks and vet usually 2x a year for shots and wellness exams.
Depending upon your barn situation...shavings for a stall or some kind of bedding...
Those are basics...expand or subtract as you need to do depending upon your climate and needs.

I am surrounded by hay fields... I never see cattle or horses on them during the actual haying season. Once the farmer is done haying for the year they do let the animals on the fields for a few weeks then they are again removed and many of the hay-men actually appear to turn their fields under and reseed them for the next year if the yield was not a good crop or more weedy than wanted. Horse hay is worth more than cattle hay so not sure how that equates to what you now own...

Good luck in your venture and congratulations on your purchase.

Welcome to the forum.
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post #10 of 25 Old 11-26-2013, 11:24 AM
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There are many options when you cropshare with a farmer. It's however you structure the deal. Most often you will see if the land owner pays for fertilizer, seed and water the split will be:
1: Owner pays a set price for each bale. Owner takes it all. Typically $1.30-1.60 here. Stacking an extra $.25-.50.
2: Farmer charges X per acre to cut and rake. Than charges a set price for each bale. Owner takes it all. This is a fairer arrangement because it will compensate the farmer if the stand is light and if the stand is super thick, you will come out ahead because your yield per acre will be higher.
3: crop is split 50/50.

Some of this is going to depend upon the hay crop and the prices in your area. Most farmers don't need more hay in a bumper crop year but when prices double and triple as they have around me the past few years, farmers want the crop not your money. Big difference if they only make $3 on a bale or that jumps up to $8.

If the farmer has to spray for weeds, fertilize, cut and bale, overseed, water... you might be lucky to walk away with enough for the winter.

What you need for one horse on 100% hay is at least 20# a day or 7,300# (3.6T) per year. You live in a cold climate so I would bump that number up 50% for 5.5T. You will get some grazing for at least 3 months a year so cut that # by 25% so now plan on 4T per horse per year. Always best to go into the winter with extra. You can feed the extra next year but if you have a late spring you quickly start to worry about having enough hay to make it.

We really can't give you a good feel for your yield because that will depend upon many factors. Type of crop, amount of water, fertilizer, growing season, weather, soil, timing of the cutting and baling (did it get a deluge when it was on the ground and ruined most of it?), how many cuts you get (one for sure but maybe 2) Your second cut will only be about 40-50% of the first cut with grass. You should end up with 2-4 T per acre .
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