Horse care on small acreage
My 3 horses have about 1 acre for grazing plus a dry paddock that I use when the pasture area gets low. I would like to divide up the acre in order to rotate. How large or small should each paddock be for grazing and how long should each area be grazed? I do not expect the horses to get their nutrition from this area, just want give them an area to graze on.
Unfortunately, three horses will graze down one acre in no time, pawing at the ground and turning it into a dry lot, no matter how you divide it.
If you want two even paddocks, then half an acre per side will give that to you. In a couple of days, they will have one side almost bare and it will take more than a couple of days off it for it to grow back.
I already have a dry lot for them that I rotate them into. I just wanted to know if I should divide up their grazing area and rotate that as well. Thanks.
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You should actually get the book "Horse Keeping on a Small Acreage" by Cherry Hill. It is a really good book and very helpful.
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I have a horse on half acre (we own more than a half acre but I only have use of a half acre). In your position I wouldn't divide it into an less than two half acres, and only let them graze for a few hours no more than 3 or 4 hours a day. If you want grass to live that is, even than it probably is pushing it. On my half acre, my mare grazing 6 hours every day that the weather is good not to wet, or during drought. The grass just stays above four inches tall, but I let it grow to five or six before letting her graze on the same spot (I use temporary fence and a series of gates around her dry lot). She also has hay out when she is grazing, and I let her eat hay before turning her out so she is already some what full.
Horse Keeping on Small Acreage is a great book.
If I divided it it would be in half. Keep them in the dry lot with plenty of hay and then let them out on one half for 1-3 hours. Rotate between the lots frequently and if its wet at all they shouldn't go out so they don't tear it up.
On the other hand - how large is your dry lot? If its not large you might want to keep the one acre whole so they can have a bit of room to actually run and stretch. 1/2 acre really doesn't give enough room for a good frolic. You'll just have to limit their time in there and maybe use temporary fencing at some points to get them to eat at the fringes of the pasture than always picking their favorite areas in the middle.
you could divide it into half acres, but how the grass grows is dependant on how often do you irrigate and fertilzer? do harrow the pastures to break up the manure piles? You dont put horses out on wet grass. You need rotate at least once a month. It also depends on the type of pasture grass.
I used to keep 2 horses on less than two acres. I had a quarter acre dry lot and only let them out on the rest for 2hrs per day. At that the pasture was stressed by summers end. They were left to the dry lot during winter to keep them from turning it all into a mud lot.
With 3 horses on 1 acre you will have a very tough time maintaining any kind of pasture without heavy care. I wouldn't put them out for more than an hour/day, irrigate, fertilize and pick up the piles. Trick is to keep your grass healthy and weeds out.
What Cat said.
Divide up the pasture evenly in to two or three parcels. Let them graze for a set time period per day, and when the grass gets to be around 3 inches in height take them off of it untill it grows back to 6-8 inches tall.
Heres a really good PDF from my local Conservation District that explains it well:
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