2004 River Falls, Nov 13,
Keith Vander Velde
UW Extension Livestock Specialist
Marquette County Agriculture Agent
[email protected]
608-297-9153 Extension 4
Small Acreage Options
Hobby vs Income Source
Urban vs Rural
Zoning Requirements
Carrying Capacity of Land for Pasturing
Amount of Labor Available
Waste Disposal
Small Acreage Options
Hobby Farm
No Income generated
Done for personnel pleasure
Labor is normally done by family members
Number of animals is usually less than 3
Usually 10 acres of less
Purchase hay and feed
Limited Grazing
Small Acreage Options
Profit Based
Horses are bred for resale
Horses are boarded for others
Horses are rented out by the hour or month
Horses are used for special events (hayrides)
Horses have value-added if trained and sold
Lessons are given to other horse owners
Small Acreage Options
 Urban
– Limited Land
– Need arena for riding
(covered in winter)
– Manure needs to be
– Feed Cost are higher
– Large population
 Rural
– Land is less
– Less opportunities to
board other horses
– More open space to
– Less waste disposal
Small Acreage Options
Urban Opportunities-reducing cost
– Purchase hay in summer when it is less
– Reduce the amount of grain fed to pleasure
– Share your composted manure with neighbors
for garden work
Small Acreage Options
Rural cost saving opportunities
Purchase hay during harvest at $70-$100/ton
Consider Round Bales
Purchase grass mix hay at a discount
Use manure as a soil nutrient
Purchase grain in bulk
Use rotational grazing on pasture for some of
the forage necessary
Small Acreage Options
 Facilities-Urban
– Fencing-Wood,
Fiberglass, Woven
– Arena-enclosed
– Waste storagecovered and enclosed
 Facilities –Rural
– Fencing-Wire, tape,
– Shelter-Natural or
open shed
– Arena-open
– Waste disposal-daily
or seasonal
Small Acreage Wisdoms
– Perimeter Fence—must be secure and keep
horses in if they run into it
– Legal Height is 50 inches on top wire
– Gates must be long enough for equipment to
get in-16 feet is usually a good opening
– Lanes need to be 16 feet wide for equipment
– Cost will vary with the material used
Small Acreage Wisdoms
Fencing Material
$$$$= Vinyl, Wood, Special wire, rubber
$$$= Woven wire, Electric tape, rope electric
$$= Barb less wire, high tensile wire
$= single strand electric,
Small Acreage Wisdoms
– Remember one horse is always dominant
– Never house horses in structure with doors
less than 8 feet wide
– Best to individual house or use dividers
– In groups provide open shelters that are large
enough for all the horse to have access
– Leave two sides open so horses can escape
– Make the ceiling height 9-10 feet -ventilation
Small Acreage Wisdoms
Avoid tearing them up with equipment
Frost seed legumes and grasses
Let the horses incorporate the seed with hoofs
Divide the pastures and use rotational grazing
Make sure the pastures have 20-30 days for
– Feed hay if pastures are short
Small Acreage Wisdoms
Pasture Forages
– Horses prefer Kentucky Blue grass
– White clover is a good legume with blue grass
– Grasses-orchard grass, timothy, smooth brome,
tall fescue
– Legumes-alfalfa, red clover, birdsfoot trefoil,
kura clover
– Best to have 50/50 legume/grass mix
Small Acreage Wisdoms
 Supplemental Feeding
– Necessary in Winter if no grazing
– Most horses only need hay at $80/ton=$0.04 per day x 22
lbs =$0.88 per day
– Grain mixes cost $200-250 per ton or $0.20-$0.25 per lb
or $10-15 for fifty pounds
– Exceptions-horses in training, working horses, mares in
last 3 months of pregnancy, lactating mares
– Horses in stalls- we use more grass since it takes longer to
consume and occupies there time
Small Acreage Wisdoms
Supplemental Feeding
– Horses in group housing situations we often
feed high % of legumes(alfalfa, red clover)
since they can eat it quickly before the bosses
try to take their portion
– If hay is a little dusty feed on the ground
– If feeding in stall spray the hay or soak it in
water before feeding-necessary for heaving
Small Acreage Wisdoms
Supplemental Feeding
– Use grain to catch the horses
– If feeding grain know how much you are
feeding-weigh the container when full
– Keep dust down with molasses or water
– Make sure horses have adequate space to eat
and consume equal amount
Small Acreage Wisdoms
– Some gather it daily and store
– Some let it in field and level it in growing
– Equipment needed –fork and wheelbarrow
– Use manure spreader if hauling to other sites
– Add carbon sources and water if composting
– Use it as a resource
Small Acreage Wisdoms
– Don’t own a tractor
– Use you pickup and lawn tractor for power
– Own a drag or old bed spring or cattle panel
for leveling manure and incorporating seeds
– Own a small seeder to pull behind lawn tractor
– Use wheelbarrow for manure moving
Small Acreage Wisdoms
– If you must own a manure spreader make it a
pull type not PTO driven-use pickup to power
it when spreading manure
– Do not own hay harvesting equipment
– Buy hay or have someone else harvest it for
you on shares, 50/50
Small Acreage Wisdoms
Weed control
Identify toxic plant that may be in pasture
Pull or spray(remove horses for 7 days)
Let desirable species choke out weeds
Keep weed seed from germinating with good
pasture management-limit sunlight to ground
– Purchase hay from weed free fields
Small Acreage Wisdoms
Make sure “You are Having Fun”
Know when to “QUIT”
Keep the costs under control-budget
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