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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
Nope, not much grass there given that there are only two horses on it. Any more, and you'll start to have bare patches. I would have expected to see much taller grass.

It can be done, you will just have to feed them hay.
Ok, I'll think about adding a 3rd, only reason not a lot of grass is because It was just recently mowed the back of the field comes up to my waist.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
I also did not get the whole field in the pic. I have another 1.5 acres that I could keep em on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
How about if I fertilized it? Even though that big field would take me all day...
 

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How about if I fertilized it? Even though that big field would take me all day...
Yes, but it's not that simple. You have to know what the soil needs. You may have to add lime to adjust the PH. Nitrogen is usually needed. But a simple soil test can tell you this. Others know far more about this than I do, but I can tell you that the longer you keep horses in an area, the more it is going to start to go downhill. I don't mean that you should have lush, rich pastures, not at all. But if you wan to avoid going to war with weeds, or having it turn into a mudhole in rainy season, then a dry desert in dry season, you will have to manage the grass. First you start with a soil sample, figure out what is lacking, and add that. And you will have to keep doing this probably every year. The horses will have to be removed from the field to give a chance for the grass to grow and if you use pelletized nitrogen (that's what I did, and I had to keep the horses off for 14 days). A one-time application of a generic fertilizer isn't going to fix the grass - it needs to be approached strategically and it will be an ongoing struggle. The thing about horses is that they are picky eaters. They only eat what they want and leave the rest to get overgrown. So when you say parts of your field are much taller, that tells me the horses aren't interested in eating what grows there. Therefore, it is useless to feed them if they won't eat it. Weeds left uneaten grow, and spread, and outcompete the good grasses. This is why ongoing management is the only way to keep a pasture productive. It might be ok for the first year, maybe even the first two, but it will eventually degrade and then you'll have a real uphill battle on your hands to try to rejuvenate it. When you get into plowing and re-seeding, that's when it becomes a big endeavour (not to mention expensive) so you want to try to avoid that by being proactive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
Yes, but it's not that simple. You have to know what the soil needs. You may have to add lime to adjust the PH. Nitrogen is usually needed. But a simple soil test can tell you this. Others know far more about this than I do, but I can tell you that the longer you keep horses in an area, the more it is going to start to go downhill. I don't mean that you should have lush, rich pastures, not at all. But if you wan to avoid going to war with weeds, or having it turn into a mudhole in rainy season, then a dry desert in dry season, you will have to manage the grass. First you start with a soil sample, figure out what is lacking, and add that. And you will have to keep doing this probably every year. The horses will have to be removed from the field to give a chance for the grass to grow and if you use pelletized nitrogen (that's what I did, and I had to keep the horses off for 14 days). A one-time application of a generic fertilizer isn't going to fix the grass - it needs to be approached strategically and it will be an ongoing struggle. The thing about horses is that they are picky eaters. They only eat what they want and leave the rest to get overgrown. So when you say parts of your field are much taller, that tells me the horses aren't interested in eating what grows there. Therefore, it is useless to feed them if they won't eat it. Weeds left uneaten grow, and spread, and outcompete the good grasses. This is why ongoing management is the only way to keep a pasture productive. It might be ok for the first year, maybe even the first two, but it will eventually degrade and then you'll have a real uphill battle on your hands to try to rejuvenate it. When you get into plowing and re-seeding, that's when it becomes a big endeavour (not to mention expensive) so you want to try to avoid that by being proactive.
Thank you! If I cut the weeds in the back part of the pasture would grass grow or just weeds again?
 

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So along with what everyone else has said it also depends on the horse. If I put my QH on a grass pasture he doesn't eat as much as my mustang does. This also would be the same for the hay bales, it would depend on the horse as well as the work the horse was doing. Honestly, I'd suggest cross fencing and sectioning off an area that you don't mind being a dry (no pasture) lot so that when it is really wet or really dry you can keep the horses off the main pasture and let them back out into it when conditions are better. Ideally you would make multiple pastures in it and rotate the horses through so they don't eat everything in their favorite areas and completely ruin the field.
 

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Weed management in the pasture is a whole different ball game. Depending on the weed and how much is present and whether it has seeded (and next year you will have even more) or not, or does it also spread under ground. That will determine what you have to do to control it. If you have to apply chemicals then the horses will need to be removed for a time. If you are disking and burning then you have to allow time for reseeding and new grass if a large area or surrounding grass to fill in in small areas. Some areas you may be able to hand pull. Again it all depends.

I get the feeling you are new to all of this. I'd suggest you find a copy of Cherry Hill's book about keeping horses on small acreage and get to know the county extension agents. They should be a wealth of info for your specific area.

Same with fertilizers and same with overseeding. Dividing the pasture helps 3 to 4 sections with a dry lot is a good place to start.

Number of bales would be an estimate based on the weight of your horse/s and the weight of the bales. Then you adjust for how much they actually consume.

For every 1,000 pounds of horse I expect to go through 20 pounds of hay a day if there is no grass. Some of mine eat more, some less and amounts depend on how much grass is actually available that they are eating.

In winter I typically go through two 1,200 pound round bales a week when I am at maximum capacity for my pastures. That would roughly be 50 squares a week. That drops in the spring once grass starts coming in and depending on temps and rainfall I may not have to start putting out bales until November. Some years it is October. In a drought year it may also be all summer.

Rounds are cheaper but storage and moving can be an issue if you dont have the equipment to haul and put out as well as store.

If I have a good cool season grass established I can cut that in half. Here rainfall is abundant in the winter so establishing a winter pasture is not a problem. All of your costs are mostly up front as opposed to hay which is purchased as needed. But that can also depend on your area. Some places if you don't buy to fill all your needs you risk not having hay. If you buy for the entire season you have to have a place to store it.
 

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Yes, to reinforce what QtrBel said, you'll need to store hay somewhere. You can't just buy it and leave it in the field. Depending on where you live, some farmers will deliver regularly. But if you leave hay out, it will get wet and moldy. Quantities depend on the type of horse. Quality is really important too.

I also agree that the most efficient way to manage a pasture like this is to divide it into sections. That way, you can let the grass rest, fertilize, seed, etc. without horses on it. However, I may have missed it, but are you thinking of just leaving these horses out 24/7, 365 days a year? Because if so, they'll need shelter and clean drinking water. This includes a heated water trough in winter.
 

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Depending on where in Oklahoma a protected trough may be ok and no heating necessary. Being able to get out and break ice in a hard freeze though would be a consideration. Shelter could be trees and a good tree line a windbreaker. I see no trees in that pasture. If the tree line is thick and blocks prevailing winds it will be a help. The pond may of may not be suitable for year round drinking depending on size and source of water.


I get the impressions from pictures this is unimproved acreage meaning no access to water or electricity. I may be wrong though.
 

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I think the picture already shows an over grazed pasture - I would be interested to see what that pasture looks like in late August. How long has the pasture had horses on it? Why do you want another horse? Is it just to manage your pasture. When you say your pasture is wrist high keep in mind that horses should (ideally) be kept on pasture that is 6 inches high or taller in order not to stress the plant. My pastures are mowed and drug about every 3-4 weeks and rotated every 2 weeks. I also do not let me horses onto a really wet pasture so they do not tear up the roots of the grass. We lime and fertilize our pasture each year as well.
 

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I have three on nine acres. I live in Central Texas in a rural area where there’s no limit as to how many I can have. I even supplement that with hay/pellets though. We recently took over management of this property and it hasn’t been maintained for over ten years so we’re having to re-seed, fertilize, etc. There’s “stuff” for the boys to graze on, but according to our county extension agent, what’s there has little to no nutritional value.


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Wow, I didn't realize the numbers varied that much depending on area. I have 4 horses on 10 acres (no rotation) and they can't keep up with the grass. DH needs to bush hog about every other week. I only feed hay about 3 months a year, and even then the horses often eat the green scruff around the pond instead. One mare lives in a grazing muzzle 24/7, two others will be getting muzzles soon, and the 4th is old and needs all the grass he can get. I could double the number of horses and not run out of grass, but manure management would become an issue. I realized not everywhere could support as many horses, but I didn't realize areas like this were that rare.
 

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I would think I'm feeding them the right amount since they're so overweight and their stomachs look they're about to pop, do you think I should put on a grazing muzzle?
That does not necessarily mean fat. A hay or grass belly is often seen on a horse with poor nutrition and indigestible fiber. Not all grass is good grass nor does all grass digest well.
You can have a horse that looks like it swallowed a whale and it not be fat. Fat is cresty neck, fat pads in places, a crease down the back. Most horses that I have seen people call fat were actually under weight and skinny except for the huge belly which made people automatically think fat. Weight held and hanging in their digestive tract may add to the total poundage of the horse but it isn't weight that would go toward determining score on a body condition score.
 

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Friesians, I think you are feeling slightly ganged up on but none of the contributors responding is doing that...
You asked, they/I responded and you've now posted a picture of what you have....now seeing what you have just concerns those of us with years of owning and keeping our horses on pastures knowing how fast what appears great suddenly is not.
A quick education in pasture management and now to gauge weight and quality of weight on a frame is all part of that pasture management and horse thriving we all have had to learn and are trying to share our years of accumulated school of hard-knocks with you.
Your picture shows a lot of very short pasture grass, already eaten down by 2 horses, weeds that are very invasive and already started to choke out your grass growth all over the place.
Weedy grass my horses would not eat is very apparent.
The "watering hole" also used for storm run-off to me means you lose potentially a significant space to heavy rain flooding.
If you just cut that field then you need attention from your ag management people as your grass is noticeable showing fennel and a host of other nasty grass choking weeds in abundance. All of that brown wispy background is thin growth and if like our grasses those brown appearing wisps are weed tops flowering = more weed to come.
I also look at your fence and catch my breath at the amount of rusted barbed wire....
I don't like barbed wire for my horses to be fenced with, period. But adding rusted wire is a recipe for some nasty tears of more delicate skin of a horse by brushing into it as they mosey around in their wandering ways.

You asked how long a round roll will last....
For 3 horses allowed access about 18 hours a day free choice you might get 3 weeks on a 1000 pound roll...maybe.
You must factor in the loss/waste of a roll just set out for them to eat.
Those who just place it and do not daily cleanup and placing shelter over the top and a ring around it will lose near 300 pounds to waste from feces/urine, dragging through dirt and standing on it, etc...and could be more depending upon how wet and how it molds or not occurs.
There is no way to determine how much each horse will eat or not as some will eat and walk away to come back later, others will eat and never stop and some will just rip it apart making a mess as they search for select morsels...
It is cheaper to feed rounds providing you not have immense waste.
However...If you not have a way to move a round roll and a way to clean up and dispose of the waste from it then...think carefully of how you will address those things if you plan to put in your pasture cause you just lost a very large area of grass growth ruined. Even in a dirt paddock it is something you need to address before bringing in those rolls cause stench from that area, continued buildup of placing in the same location and no cleanup between placings also soils the bottom of and the loss starts as soon as you place...
I write from my heart as I do feed rounds and can tell you it is much work to keep the loss ratio low...
If you are asking about square bales, average of 50 pound bales and for 1000 pound horses... you should feed 1 1/2 bales every day for the 3 animals.
2% of their combined weight is 150 pounds = 1.5 bales and then segregate them from each other so they eat their amount and not gorge on others too.
Quality of those bales also is important as feeding better hay quality may allow a bit less fed, but you can't feed top-shelf and not also have adequate exercise or risk some health issue to show up possibly.

I live in Florida where it is now rainy season.
Between my and my neighbor we have 5 horses on 4 1/2 acres and currently I just finished the back field to cut it 6 - 7" high and am cutting the front field same height but the horses are out eating it...
Where they like the grass most is being fenced off cause in 2 days they have it to the roots = waste soon to happen if not controlled.
We have weed problems being addressed tomorrow with a sprayed weed & feed product the truck operator knows what mix we need as he walked the property 4 days ago and will have on the truck to add to the mixing vat then to be applied.
Once applied the horses are restricted for 24 hours off....so will be drylotted and on hay they will give nasty, dirty looks to eating.
Seeing what you have shown... no more than 3 and please get some help with the weed growth/suppression and improving your root system with correct fertilizer will give increased positive yield off your field.
And indeed, some new fencing "horse" safer, a sectioning/fencing off that pasture if mine would be done as rotational grazing would help you.
You mentioned OK as your homestate to me means you have very flucutating weather conditions of drought, torrential rains, snowstorms and with brutal wind-driven to all of them. You did not mention shelter and not seeing large stands of trees in your picture I would caution you to please consider some shelters placed so all the animals can benefit from wind-blocks and roof overhead to aid in them thriving during all kinds of weather present...if you section those pastures then providing shelter to each section needs to be figured out is my thought too..
Best of luck in your decisions
🐴... jmo...
 

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A big round will last 3 to 4 weeks if netted for three horses. There will be almost no waste also.

Horses up here are surviving on short grazed grass no supplemental hay being fed. We're in drought too. OP pasture is in better condition then most up here. Sorry horses don't need to be in 6 inches of grass stuffing there faces 24/7.

No way that 7 acres will be turned to dirt with just two horses. On a good rain year, 2 an half acres of pasture my 3 horses when I had 3 horses couldn't keep up with it had to mow it 3 different times.

Here's what my horses are surviving on and only give 1 pound of hay cubes once a day. Horses are fat so no they don't need knee deep grass to survive.

1115435
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@rambo99 I understand what you are saying and am not trying to start an arguement as I have seen how nice your horses look - but the field in your picture is unhealthy and very over grazed. The plants will be stressed and producing a lot of sugars to stay alive and that makes for a disaster if feeding a horse at risk to any health issues. I mention 6 inches of grass because that is the ideal in order to have a healthy plant and keep your fields from turning into weeds. You say you mow but I am guessing it is in the bathroom areas and where the grass is so undesirable the horses will not eat. University of Minnesota has a great Facebook page and gives a lot of tips on acreage. I studied grasses and did soil testing as my first job out of college (many years ago) and test my own fields yearly. My degree is in Animal Science with a focus on feed formulation for ruminants.

None of live in an ideal world and have perfect pastures but the OP asked what her pasture could safely carry and she has gotten a lot of good advice. The truth is that it really depends on how much work she wants to put in keeping her field as healthy as possible. Can a horse look good and be ridable on an over grazed pasture - you bet! Is it getting all of the nutrients it needs - Nope - could it cause a borderline IR horse to tip over into full blown laminitis - yep.

There is so much more to a healthy pasture than mowing it and letting the horses eat it. And maintenance depends on the persons willingness to educate themselves or to just let the horses live on it.
 

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Well said carshon and mimics my thoughts.
I erased before posting seeing yours is so much more to the point... (y)
🐴...
 

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@rambo99 I understand what you are saying and am not trying to start an arguement as I have seen how nice your horses look - but the field in your picture is unhealthy and very over grazed. The plants will be stressed and producing a lot of sugars to stay alive and that makes for a disaster if feeding a horse at risk to any health issues. I mention 6 inches of grass because that is the ideal in order to have a healthy plant and keep your fields from turning into weeds. You say you mow but I am guessing it is in the bathroom areas and where the grass is so undesirable the horses will not eat. University of Minnesota has a great Facebook page and gives a lot of tips on acreage. I studied grasses and did soil testing as my first job out of college (many years ago) and test my own fields yearly. My degree is in Animal Science with a focus on feed formulation for ruminants.

None of live in an ideal world and have perfect pastures but the OP asked what her pasture could safely carry and she has gotten a lot of good advice. The truth is that it really depends on how much work she wants to put in keeping her field as healthy as possible. Can a horse look good and be ridable on an over grazed pasture - you bet! Is it getting all of the nutrients it needs - Nope - could it cause a borderline IR horse to tip over into full blown laminitis - yep.

There is so much more to a healthy pasture than mowing it and letting the horses eat it. And maintenance depends on the persons willingness to educate themselves or to just let the horses live on it.
I keep manure picked up daily or every other day. On good years it's mowed 2 or 3 times a year. I do the maintenance required. Yes it depends I also know grass is stressed over grazed. But my horses have more then 7 acres my pasture is cross fenced. So I can close gate to back pasture.

No offense taken I know you're not trying to start an argument. I see both sides on this pasture thing it depends. Unfortunately it's not an ideal world.

But OP pasture looks nice an green so must be getting plenty of rain. Yes short but grass is still growing horses will be fine. If already in good condition weight wise.

Had a neighbor who had 3 horses on 7 acres 24/7 from may to November. Was like golf course greens all summer. She never fed a stitch of hay fed no grain. Horses were in good weight. Never did that pasture have bare spots,was never turned to dirt lot. I know because I took care of her place when she went out of town. But that was back when we got lots of rain over the summer months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
So along with what everyone else has said it also depends on the horse. If I put my QH on a grass pasture he doesn't eat as much as my mustang does. This also would be the same for the hay bales, it would depend on the horse as well as the work the horse was doing. Honestly, I'd suggest cross fencing and sectioning off an area that you don't mind being a dry (no pasture) lot so that when it is really wet or really dry you can keep the horses off the main pasture and let them back out into it when conditions are better. Ideally you would make multiple pastures in it and rotate the horses through so they don't eat everything in their favorite areas and completely ruin the field.
Thanks! I don't my the field being dry but the horses would have no grass.
 
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