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busysmurf 05-11-2012 09:45 AM

Horses per acre?
What are peoples thoughts on how may horses can realistically be kept per acre. I know that one horse per 1.5 acres is ideal.

What are thoughts on having 5 horses in a 2.5 acre pasture. Horses are given @ a 65-75# bale of hay per day & once a day grain. None of them are stalled overnight. The 2.5 acres is divided into 3 pastures @ 95' x 350' and we've typically rotated.

Any ideas for a rotation to keep each area decent? One of my thoughts is keep the smaller of the 3 as kind of a "junk" field (not as worried about grass regrowth) and always have a group in that field & rotate the "good" fields.

If I REALLY sweet talk my dad, I MIGHT be able to squeak out another 1/2 acre. Maybe I'll have my daughter give him the puppy dog eyes and the "pleeeaaaase Papa", LOL

We've had as many as 6 on the farm, but they were stalled at night so the fields had a "break".

wetrain17 05-11-2012 11:21 AM

Wow. My county requires 1.5 acres for one horse and one acre for each additional horse. Personally, I dont put more than 4 horses on my ten acre field, and have one dry lot for the "easy keeper" I wouldnt put 5 horses on 2.5 acres, but I've seen a lot worse. My friend kept her horse at a place that had 16 horses on about 2-3 acres. The BO's hay bill was outrageous. For me, its just not worth it. I think they should have room to move and run around a little. 5 horses on 3 acres is doable, but practical/worthwhile? To each their own!

PaintHorseMares 05-11-2012 11:38 AM

I see no problems...more horses just means more hay and mud. We have 3 pasture areas (5 acres total). The main one has their round bale and the associated foot traffic/mud around it. We turn our 4 mares out, morning only, in one of the other 2 in order to keep the grass going.

Cat 05-11-2012 11:42 AM

The horses per acre differs per region - if you want the land to maintain the animals for part of the year. Some regions can handle more horses per acre than others. Also sometimes county laws come into play as to how many horses per acre are allowed.

If you are not restricted by your county and you don't plan to use grass as a main food source then 5 acres per 2.5 acres is doable. In fact - that seems about norm (and sometimes worse) at boarding stables.

If you want any grass at all you will need a dry lot/sacrafice area and only allow them out on the other pastures for part of the day and rotate. This will allow you to maintain some grass, but you will still have to have their main feed source being hay. On the other hand if you only had 2-3 horses on 2.5 acres then the grass could be a larger portion of their diet due to less stress on the land.

Its doable but the more horses per acre you have, the more time and maintenance is requuired.

maura 05-11-2012 12:36 PM

I don't think this is workable.

The zoning in my area is 3 acres for the first horse, an acre for each additional horse.

I have 5 and a half acres split in two paddocks and 2 1/2 horses (the half is a 10.2H pony who weighs aprox. 350 pounds, he's really 1/3 of a horse), animals are out 24/7 and I rotate and drag pastures. I consider this the minimum to keep decent grass and not to have to pick manure, and I am in a warmer climate with a longer growing season than you.

5 horses out in 2.5 acres, no matter how you rotate, are not going to have any grazing and are going to reduce each section to a dirt lot pretty quickly. And 1 bale among 5 horses per day is no where *near* enough forage, it should be 1/2 - 2/3 of a bale per day per horse. Or did I misunderstand and are you giving *each* horse an entire bale?

Also, that number of horses in that small of an area will produce more manure than can be managed by dragging and rotating, you will have to pick manure out of the paddocks.

To make this workable, you will either need to decrease horses, increase pasture acreage, stable the horses at night or all of the above. Even with intense pasture management, meaning "sacrifice" area, rotating, removing manure, seeding and fertilizing, I'm still not sure you'll end up with any grass with this many horses on that acreage.

Country Woman 05-11-2012 12:58 PM

I would love to have room for a horse
I would say 1.5 acres for 1 horse

Saddlebag 05-11-2012 02:51 PM

Even if one has to feed year round, the area should be large enough that a horse can outrun, outmaneuver dogs that opt to give chase. Dogs allowed to run loose can be the greatest danger to horses in a semi urban setting.

PaintHorseMares 05-11-2012 03:04 PM


Originally Posted by maura (Post 1495665)
And 1 bale among 5 horses per day is no where *near* enough forage, it should be 1/2 - 2/3 of a bale per day per horse. Or did I misunderstand and are you giving *each* horse an entire bale?

With 5 horses you're much better off feeding a round bale free choice....less expensive and easier to manage the grass available.

Corporal 05-11-2012 03:06 PM

Your 5 horses will turn your acreage into dirt in about 30 days. EVEN in a good year, where I live where every seed dropped in the topsoil sprouts, you can't do it.

Rancher 05-11-2012 04:32 PM

I'd say at least an acre a horse with good fodder...but they'll tear it up near the gate no matter how many acres they're on. Rotational grazing if possible.

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