There 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.
- An area used to turn horses out, accepting that no grass will grow.
- Allows horses to be out and enjoy “horse life” without denuding your pastures by overgrazing.
- Utilize an area that has ample shade, and one that might not be best suited for grass cover anyways.
- Protect your grass by only allowing it to be grazed to an appropriate height before resting it and moving the horses to another paddock.
- Cross fencing with electrical tape fencing is a simple way to implement rotational grazing.
- Bahia grass pastures should only be grazed to 2-3 inches, then a recovery and regrowth period is necessary.
Properly Manage Manure
- Often more manure is produced than there is space available to spread it, so must find alternate avenues for waste management.
- 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.
- Employ a licensed manure hauler to periodically remove your manure before it becomes an environmental hazard.
- 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.