How to Maximize Space on a Small Farm

horse farmThere are a lot of horse “ranchettes” that are minimal in size, about 2-10 acres in total. The UF/IFAS recommended stocking rate is about 2 acres per horse, and if we are going to push that limit our management must be top notch. Here are some tips:

Create a sacrifice area.

  1. An area used to turn horses out, accepting that no grass will grow.
  2. Allows horses to be out and enjoy “horse life” without denuding your pastures by overgrazing.
  3. Utilize an area that has ample shade, and one that might not be best suited for grass cover anyways.

cross fencingRotational Grazing.

  1. Protect your grass by only allowing it to be grazed to an appropriate height before resting it and moving the horses to another paddock.
  2. Cross fencing with electrical tape fencing is a simple way to implement rotational grazing.
  3. Bahia grass pastures should only be grazed to 2-3 inches, then a recovery and regrowth period is necessary.

Properly Manage Manure

  1. Often more manure is produced than there is space available to spread it, so must find alternate avenues for waste management.

    composting bins

    composting bins

  2. A 3-bin compost system works well on small farms and provides a storage system that generates smaller batches of finished compost that can then be spread at an appropriate rate onto pastures.
  3. Employ a licensed manure hauler to periodically remove your manure before it becomes an environmental hazard.
  4. Do not store manure near a water source or in an area susceptible to storm water runoff; nutrients in the manure will easily contaminate the water.

See the Small Scale Horse Operations:  Best Management Practices for Water Resource Protection in Florida handbook for more information.