COUNTY AG NEWS

Horses on small acreage

There was a note I came across a while back that stated that there are now more horses in the United States than there were years ago when they were used for farming and for pulling buggies. Today many people have purchased a few acres, put a fence around it and then buy a horse, or two or three, or more.

This leads into one of the questions I receive from horse owners regarding pasture seeding, maintenance or restoration.

One needs about two acres of good ground for each 1,000-pound horse for a pasture to remain viable and to be able to provide sufficient grazing for horses. With sandy soil the acreage needed may as well be double, or up to four acres per horse.

If the number of horses for the given acreage is less than two acres per horse then what you have is really just an exercise lot. The amount of hoof traffic and the heavy grazing pressure will cause grasses and legumes to die out and weeds become the dominant plant growth. The physical structure of horses having teeth on both the top and bottom of their mouth and having movable lips allows horses to graze grass extremely short if they are allowed to do so.

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