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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was wondering how many horses I can have on 7 acres I have a lot of grass on it. I already have 2 horses on it, how many more can I have for it to be a decent amount of grass for them?
 

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I was raised on the OH/PA border. The Rule of Thumb was five acres per piece of large livestock.

I called the Ag person in my county in Middle Tennessee when we first retired here. He said five acres per piece of livestock applies here as well.

Meaning you are done adding livestock to seven acres, unless you want to buy Cherry Hill‘s book and learn how to rotate, how to maintain small acreage. Also be prepared to hay them them most or all of the year especially if a drought comes along.

My horses have to be separated. One is on about six acres. Right now, he can’t keep, it eaten down. That will all change around October and by December he will barely have any grazing - all by himself on more or less six acres.

Others who do keep many horses on small acreage may come in and relate how they do it but it’s a lot more work and expense when acreage is over crowded, not to mention the health issue:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was raised on the OH/PA border. The Rule of Thumb was five acres per piece of large livestock.

I called the Ag person in my county in Middle Tennessee when we first retired here. He said five acres per piece of livestock applies here as well.

Meaning you are done adding livestock to seven acres, unless you want to buy Cherry Hill‘s book and learn how to rotate, how to maintain small acreage. Also be prepared to hay them them most or all of the year especially if a drought comes along.

My horses have to be separated. One is on about six acres. Right now, he can’t keep, it eaten down. That will all change around October and by December he will barely have any grazing - all by himself on more or less six acres.

Others who do keep many horses on small acreage may come in and relate how they do it but it’s a lot more work and expense when acreage is over crowded, not to mention the health issue:)
Ok, Thanks for the info! So I can't have any more horses than 2 on 7 acres?
 

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Not if you want pasture to be a large part of their diet.

If you want to supply hay year round you can have more. I know here in Indiana you have to have 1 acre per head of livestock but other states may have different laws. The crazy part about it is the pasture or whatever doesn't have to be an acre per head you just have to own that many acres. For instance, you own 5 acres but only have 3 acres of that fenced for livestock. You can still have 5 head on that 3 acres. I do not know how strict they are at enforcing it, I think not very.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Not if you want pasture to be a large part of their diet.

If you want to supply hay year round you can have more. I know here in Indiana you have to have 1 acre per head of livestock but other states may have different laws. The crazy part about it is the pasture or whatever doesn't have to be an acre per head you just have to own that many acres. For instance, you own 5 acres but only have 3 acres of that fenced for livestock. You can still have 5 head on that 3 acres. I do not know how strict they are at enforcing it, I think not very.
Thank you! I would definitely supply hay in the winter, but do you mean for the summer?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
🤷‍♀️ i have a total of 8 acres but my two are on like 6 acres and im drowning in grass and mowing currently. I feed hay in winter only.
I only feed them hay in the winter also, and summer I just let them eat the grass, actually when I have like 3 horses in 7 acres they usually get too fat.
 

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Was wondering how many horses I can have on 7 acres I have a lot of grass on it. I already have 2 horses on it, how many more can I have for it to be a decent amount of grass for them?
The first question you should be asking is what are you county/state ZONING for how many animals you can have on your acerage. Depending on your area, you may be limited on what it was zoned for. (On that note, is it even zoned for horses in the first place?)

Secondly, it varies greatly on where you live and what your turnout plans are.
If you think you are going to turn out 2 horses on 7 acres 24/7, well, you are going to have a dry lot in a hurry with zero grass.
If you are going to graze them 1-2 hours a day and lock them up and feed hay the rest of the time, then you might be okay.

I haven't measured, but I just put my 4 horses on an area probably about that size (7 acres or so; it is for sure not more than 10 acres). We are in a terrible drought. They are probably not going to be in there more than a few weeks, and then they are getting moved to a different location. There's just hardly any grass. Mine are out 24/7.
 

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Thank you! I would definitely supply hay in the winter, but do you mean for the summer?
Yes. Now if you live in area that has lush pastures, always has adequate rainfall to keep them that way, and you put in the time and effort to keep it weed free, manure free, mud free etc... then you might be able to add a 3rd and still have enough pasture to feed them through the growing season.
 

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A number limit per acres probably depends on your local bylaws. If you have more horses, you will need to provide hay and your grass will be destroyed unless you rotate access to particular areas but seems to me that 7 acres is a lot of space for 2 horses (as long as hay is provided). You could consider a paddock paradise system around the perimeter of your pasture and let them graze at particular times - again hay would need to be provided but if the bylaws allow, you could probably keep more horses that way.
 

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When I lived in east Texas I could keep one per two acres. West Texas it was one per 150 acres. Up close to the Oklahoma border it was 1 per 5 to 10 acres. Depending on your rainfall znd soil conditions which could and often would be dramatically different place to place you can find recommendations for any number. Laws in Texas for the most part said one per acre but again that all depends on zoning and is no reflection on carrying capacity. Carrying capacity gets you through a good season but you will have to feed through a not good season. Some areas if well managed and climate allows can have two seasons of grasses grown (warm and cool) but there still will be points you are feeding AND your second season is one that you are buying seed, fertilizing, putting that seed out, and keeping animals off until well established. Your area will be affected by seasonal norms. Heavy snow there will be no winter grazing. No rain in winter? Cold, freezing conditions, pastures are dormant. Drought conditions in spring or summer then no pasture at a time you would normally have pasture.

The law says how many you can keep. The land tells you how much management and money it will take to keep that number. General rule if the law allows is 1 per 2 acres. Input (time - physical input, money and material) changes based on your local conditions and seasons.

There is a woman here where I currently live in the coastal south that has one horse for every acre. 15 horses on 15 acres. She has a covered arena (full dressage) and stalls along with her house and a shop on that acreage. Those things take up space. There is no grass. She feeds year round and has to pay to haul off manure. Another has 18 to 20 on 20 acres with a barn, an outdoor arena and ring. A couple of sheds for equipment and leases another 20 acres. All grass areas are intensively managed and she has grass year round but they are supplemented hay and a varying amount of hard feed depending on workload and time of year or they would not have enough to eat for the amount of work they do. She has enough room to spread her manure from the barn and uses a drag to spread what is in the pastures which double as cross country and stadium jumping courses. Her farm is a jewel. She spends most of her time intensively managing that acreage including mowing. She also spends quite a bit in money to make sure everything is running equipment wise and kept fertilized, seeded and sprayed for weeds in areas they get out of hand. There are 5 main areas she rotates through and one large dry lot that the all spend at least part of the day twice a day in.

First answer what are your laws then ask yourself how much time and money do you have to manage that acreage as well as what are your goals for providing forage. Do you want pasture or do you want to feed year round. Realize it just isn't managing for forage you have to manage your manure as well. Have enough acreage and you can rotate grazing areas letting some rest while manure is spread around and grass recovers. Don't have enough and manure becomes a nightmare that could get you in big time trouble with authorities ranging from local to state to even federal in some cases.

Getting 3 fat on summer grass won't carry them through winter. I'd say two is plenty.
 

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Your question isn't clear to me. Are you asking how many horses you can have as per zoning laws? That depends on where you live. Are you asking how many you can sustain on 7 acres? Two is probably your max then, but lots of people have more and just supplement with lots of hay.

Also, when you say 7 acres, is that 7 acres of pasture? Or is the entire property (house, barn, yard + horse space) 7 acres? That is really very different.

For reference, I have 2.5 (two small horses and a pony) on about 5 acres of pasture (my entire property is 13 acres). These are maintained pastures. I have to supplement with additional hay and be very aggressive with pasture rotation to keep them from killing it all. It's a never-ending, exhausting job. They spend no more than 3-5 days in one area. I have 5 areas in total. After a few days, I move them to a new area using temporary fencing inside a big, solid perimeter fence line. This gives the grass a chance to grow back. It works, but my life would be easier if I had 40 acres. Then again, at least one of my horses would be very fat if I didn't manage grazing aggressively, so there are benefits as well.
 

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Call you local Ag Extension office. This is a loaded question and really depends on where you live and how well established your pasture is, if you will rotate, will you mow and fertilize? There is a lot more to keeping horses on pasture than putting up a fence and throwing your horses out. A pasture may look like it has a lot of grass left but a horse will not eat where it poops and they may create quite a few bathroom areas that always look like they have tall grass but the animals will not eat there. 7 acres in my area would support 2-3horses from Spring into late summer at which time the grass would be dried up and stressed from over grazing and the heat of summer. I live in NW IL and keeping a horse on pasture from May until the end of October requires lots of land and pasture management.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The first question you should be asking is what are you county/state ZONING for how many animals you can have on your acerage. Depending on your area, you may be limited on what it was zoned for. (On that note, is it even zoned for horses in the first place?)

Secondly, it varies greatly on where you live and what your turnout plans are.
If you think you are going to turn out 2 horses on 7 acres 24/7, well, you are going to have a dry lot in a hurry with zero grass.
If you are going to graze them 1-2 hours a day and lock them up and feed hay the rest of the time, then you might be okay.

I haven't measured, but I just put my 4 horses on an area probably about that size (7 acres or so; it is for sure not more than 10 acres). We are in a terrible drought. They are probably not going to be in there more than a few weeks, and then they are getting moved to a different location. There's just hardly any grass. Mine are out 24/7.
Thanks! So your saying I can't have 4 horses on 7 acres 24/7, correct? I live in Oklahoma so I'm not sure if you have a limit of horses. I tried looking it up and not seeing anything about it.
 

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If the law allows it you can have as many horses on 7 acres as you want. The point everyone is trying to make is that your inputs whether it be extra forage and/or food year round or seasonally and management of the pasture (poo picking/spreading/removal from the property, dragging, mowing, fencing, fertilizing, overseeding...) will be determined by the number you have. It is a balance. More horses and you are buying feed and have manure and mud to manage because your grass may potentially be destroyed.

I think you are looking for some type of blanket permission from this forum to convince someone you need more horses or you are trying to see if you can turn 7 acres into a business and make money.

Several have asked you questions you haven't addressed. Is it truly 7 acres of fenced pasture? Are there buildings or driveways on the property that would mean the property may be 7 acres but the actual.pasture area is not. What is your general location and climate? What are your soils like? That will affect amount of grass and when available.

There is always going to be an ideal carrying capacity for any pasture. Even then it doesn't mean you won't have added input at certain points of the year. Ideal carrying capacity adequately feeds the number of animals on it during your growing season.

Others have mentioned manure because a horse won't eat where it poops unless it has absolutely no choice. How are you currently managing poop? More horses results in more management. If there isn't enough acreage to spread it on you will have parasite problems and hoof issues. Weeds will become an issue if you don't mow or manage the grass growth. If there are too many horses there won't be grass. Or you may have enough for spring and summer but not fall and winter. Yes if your climate allows you can overseed but where will you put the horses until that grass is established? What will you do if adding more destroys the grass there during the dormant season?

The answer is not 7 acres = a specific number of horses because every situation is different. Laws are different depending on your location and what your actual property can support will be different depending on all those things mentioned.

Is the property on incorporated or unincorporated land? Is it zoned residential or Agricultural? How close are the fences to any residential housing not on that property?

Look at a typical house. Number of bedrooms typically determines number of people. Put that house on a septic system. Now put three people in the house - three bedrooms (one person per bedroom) with one bathroom. Works fine. You could even add another person and if all got along and had different time schedules for the bathroom it could still work. Size is a factor. Say two of those are children (reduced needs) and two are adults then even better than 4 adults. But let's put 2 adults in every bedroom and you are now overloading the system. Add a couple more on the couch and another two each in a recliner..... or as I saw commonly happen in one place I lived - each family had a bedroom with the odd ones out (non married without kids) in the combined living areas and you could have 12 or more people in a three bedroom home. Do they fit? Sure. Is it sustainable? No. Is it allowed by law? No. Do people try to get away with it? Yes. Eventually it all comes crashing down for a variety of reasons.


ETA: From what I remember when I did consulting work Oklahoma carrying capacity (in general as it is rarely more and frequently less or to put it in acres more typical is one animal per a greater number of acres in some parts of the state) is a one livestock unit (horse) per 5 acres recommendation IF you are bringing in forage from offsite. You are already over capacity based on that. Law though says as long as you meet specific requirements and have a minimum of an acre and a half you can put what you want on it. So unless limited by specific laws for your city or county you do what you want until the neighbors complain.
 

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I read some but not all the comments...

Sure you can, but should you is a better question...
First off to me, you live in the US so your seasons are "the same" summer, winter, fall and spring but depending upon where you live depends what kind of native grass you have in those pastures, the length of year for growth and good nutritional content had and...how much of your pasture is not-edible by picky animals you have.
Because its green doesn't mean they will eat it and that is what many just not understand.
7 aces, all grass and more than 1/3 they won't touch unless starving is a good ratio of honest assessment.
Now, how long is your growing season?
When do you truly have growth good with decent rainfall, warm days and cool nights?
There is only a short period of time where nutrition is premium for our horses.
Snow coverage, drowned fields in mud and rain or drought in hard-baked grounds occurring.
So much depends upon your location and how much effort you put in time-wise and financially to allow you to graze longer months but controlled exposure so you not over-tax the ground and ruin your fields.

I live in Florida, land of horses and very populated with livestock.
Behind my land is a dairy farm... = pampered cows!
The cows are only in the last 3 weeks not being supplemented with hay rounds to eat and only on grass with daily feed of minerals/vitamins for increased milk production. Seen yearly the rounds will again start to be fed about mid-August to September when the nutritional value of the grass dumps and so could the milk production if not "helped"...But the cows "graze" year-round on "busy-food"...
So for horses to truly thrive from pasture...no matter where you live you need to feed hay at least 3 months of the year minimum faithfully.
Even though green our picky connoisseurs do not eat every blade and often over-graze and can ruin the roots of the favorite areas to much...
So 7 acres of grass to me... 3 maybe 4 horses at most and yes you will still need to rotate where they eat, tend to the fields by mowing and doing manure pick-up or dragged and weed & feed or lose the good grasses to inferior and weeds.
🐴... jmo...
 
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