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MahoganyBay 11-21-2011 04:06 PM

management of a few horses on 40 acres
Ok, I find a lot of info on managing horses on a small acreage, but nothing on larger areas. Is it just a matter of letting them range where their stomachs take them or is there some management practices required?
We will be moving to a 40 acre parcel and I presently have two horses (may expand to a total of four) that will be on that land. There is a large corral with a shelter, but the rest of the property is fully fenced in and I would like to run the horses on it. The land is mixed, ranging from flat to gently rolling to steep, but nothing you can't walk on (no drop offs/cliffs) and is mostly wild grasses with some sage and juniper trees.
Other than fencing off areas I don't want the horses to get into and supplementing with hay over the winter, what sort of management is required for an area this size for a few horses?

Joe4d 11-21-2011 05:54 PM

With 4 horses ? I block off 5 acre sections and put run in shelter and water in each. Rotate them around. Thatway the not so choice weeds and grass get ate too. Your out of action fields can be limed, fertilized, weed sprayed, seeded, etc, depending on what it needs. I have no idea what your climate or soil is like. In VA, my land initially needed some fertilizer as it had been cotton farmed , I seed winter rye grass in the fall, skip a year and throw some K31 drought resitant seed in the spring. So basically some seed every couple years as long as it isnt over grazed. You may or may not need weed killer, dont go overboard as some weeds never hurt anything. SOmething else you could do is find a nearby hay farmer. Lease some of the land. Let him farm it seed it harvest it and pay you with a percent of the hay.

MHFoundation Quarters 11-21-2011 06:00 PM

I have 11 on 42 acres of pasture. I've got it split into 3 main pastures for the herd that are 10 acres a piece, 3 stud lots of 3ish acres each and a 2 acre dry/sacrifice lot. That way they can be rotated and managed (fertilized, limed, reseeded, mowed), they can be moved if fence needs repaired, etc. We're coming into cold weather here and with the rotation there is still quite a bit of grass for them to graze.

MahoganyBay 11-21-2011 07:14 PM

Well as far as cross fencing goes, the landlord flat says no. Maybe I can run temporary, movable, electric fencing by him and see what he says. He's not a horse person, but was stating something to the effect of staking the horses and rotating them around the property that way,:shock: lol.
I was just wondering if I could run the horses on the 40 acres with minimal management/no fencing since it was so large (at least it's large for California horse acreage, :lol:).
I read somewhere (I think it was an article from Montana on managing horses on native grasslands) that ranging horses on native grassland shouldn't be done unless you have a large piece of land (I don't know if 40 acres is large by Montana standards, lol) and there was also something stated to the effect of just grazing them 2 hours morning and evening so as not to damage native grasslands.
My horses are easy to catch and I already have done a similar grazing schedule (release and catch) on 5 acres of seeded pasture where I'm at now, so I thought I could possibly do it on 40 acres of non-seeded native grasslands.
If I don't think I can do it without damaging the land, I'll just keep them in their corral most of the time.

MHFoundation Quarters 11-21-2011 07:41 PM

I'm sure there are some folks on here from your region that might have more insight as far as the grass goes. Sounds like a pretty area! Be sure to share pics with us :)

Joe4d 11-21-2011 09:57 PM

If I turned mine loose on 40 acrers I probably wouldnt ever catch him again. Kinda sounds like an odd situaltion. You are either leasing the land or not. Semms like If I was renting a piece of land I would do what I wanted on it. I wouldnt put concrete in posts, but a hot wire an t post pasture doest change anything.

bubba13 11-21-2011 10:00 PM

There is no reason to cross fence. I have six horses on 20 acres and overgrazing is never a problem, as far as the land is concerned. Weeds sure aren't taking over, either. It's all lush. They do need to wear grazing muzzles to prevent founder/obesity in the warmer months. And it's always good to have a state agronomist out to check for any potentially toxic plants.

MahoganyBay 11-21-2011 11:19 PM


Originally Posted by Joe4d (Post 1240781)
If I turned mine loose on 40 acrers I probably wouldnt ever catch him again. Kinda sounds like an odd situaltion. You are either leasing the land or not. Semms like If I was renting a piece of land I would do what I wanted on it. I wouldnt put concrete in posts, but a hot wire an t post pasture doest change anything.

Lol, My mare is very easy to catch and my daughter's gelding follows her in. I already have a turn out/catch up schedule they followed quite nicely on a five acre pasture we had access to these last few springs/early summers.

The landlord lives on the property too, so we can't just do whatever we want without impacting him. He doesn't want to see the land broken up by fencing and if I think it won't negatively impact the land, I'd rather not restrict their ranging.

Thanks for the reply bubba13. What part of the nation do you live, if you don't mind me asking. Do you need to take them off the land in the winter to minimize impact on the land or do they stay on it year round?
I know I will have to limit grazing or use grazing muzzles during the warm months since my horses are extremely easy keepers :lol:. I'll check into the state agronomist to see about any toxic plants.

bubba13 11-21-2011 11:26 PM

Midwest. They stay out year-round, no problems, and rarely need hay supplementation. But I realize that our pastures are probably better than yours.

walkinthewalk 11-22-2011 07:59 AM

Let 'em Have At It. What wonderful opportunity for your horses!

This is as close to being "natural" as they will ever get:D:D

Growing up, my horses ran on 100 acres with the Beefers. My current horses are only on 22 acres of pretty steep hills, so they stay in good condition, roaming the entire parcel.

I did cross-fence and have five pastures but the gates are always open.

What I would suggest is to ask your landlord if you can fence off a huge paddock area (50' x 100') and a 1 - 2 acre emergency pasture, attached to the paddock. The paddock should be attached to the shed, if possible.

That allows you to bring a horse up close to the barn if it's sick or injured, plus you can close the horses out of the main pasture if you end up with an ice storm.

Last year we ended up with ice so thick (in southern Middle Tennessee) the horses couldn't break thru it. There was no way this side of Hades and Back I was letting them out in the big pasture on that stuff.

They ended up being in the "hospital pasture" for four days, until the ice finally melted to where they could break thru it.

My only warning is if you have easy keepers, be prepared to buy grazing muzzles and make them wear those muzzles from sun-up until sun down.

You don't want to be dealing with metabolic issues.

Our land was an old cow farm - like your pasture, nothing was ever done to it, except keep it bushhogged. It is really high in iron, therefore low in copper and zinc, two of my TWH's ended up with metabolic issues and I have only taken their muzzles off them in the last couple weeks.

Ride them around the fence line before cutting them loose, but let them just run, run, run and be horses. Call them up once or twice a day and give them something, even if it's just a couple hay cubes for treats.

With 40 acres you need to keep them coming in on a daily basis so they don't get to the point where they don't want to be caught.

If you have a 4-wheeler, dirt bike, or just use the pick up, make it a point to drive out to them, often, and give them treats in the field. That also keeps them easy to catch.

Believe me, going to them and handling them at liberty out in the field, will get you a whole bunch more than always trying to catch them to bring them to the barn for work. That way when you do want someone for work, they will allow themselves to be caught.

Teach them all to lead from whatever vehicle you go get them with. Mine will lead from the pick up window, off either of the big tractors, the lawn tractor, the 4-wheeler. If I'm on the John Deere, I can lead two at a time because I can steer that tractor with my knees:-P

I am really excited for you! BIG CONGRATULATIONS! I hope this all works - any chance of being able to buy the land at some point?

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