Q&A: How much grazing do I need?

  • Q. I have bought a one-acre field hoping to keep a horse on it. Is this enough for a 15.2hh horse as I was told horses need just over one acre?

    A. It is an unwritten rule that a minimum of one acre is a suitable amount of grazing for one horse. Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple as this, although it can be used as a very rough guide.

    If all you have for your 15.2hh horse is one acre and he is to live out all year round, then it wouldn’t be suitable. If, on the other hand, you have five horses or ponies and they share five acres, this size could be managed, divided and rotated to accommodate the five animals living out all the time.

    The smaller the area of land you have, the more difficult it isto manage to provide grazing for your horse all year round.

    There will be little or no growth of grass from about November until March and, during this time, your field is likely to become wet and muddy. This can cause health problems, like mud fever.

    To allow the field to recover from the winter mud, it’s usually necessary to rest the field in early spring. This isn’t possible if your horse always lives out.

    Also, horses are herd animals, so your horse could suffer from loneliness. If at all possible, horses should live with some company, preferably equine. They are then more content and can keep warm together in winter and swish flies off each other in summer.

    It is important to try to remove the accumulation of droppings from the field on a regular basis to help reduce the worm burden and also to help keep the grass in good condition.

    There may be times when the field needs harrowing, rolling and topping to cut the lank, long grass which is of no benefit to your horse.

    If you combine turnout in the one-acre field with some time in the stable and you follow a good management regime for the field, then you should find the acre that you have will provide adequate grazing for your horse throughout the year.

    To purchase a book on pasture management visit Amazon in the Horse and Hound Online Shopping Village.

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