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horses in the pasture

 
gani et se
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Location: Douglas County OR
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We have recently purchased 20 acres of oak savanna. For the moment there are horses roaming on it except maybe a half acre right by the house. That's a rental situation, but my partner is horse crazy, so there WILL be at least a couple horses here. Right now there are 5.
I would like to begin to learn about rotational grazing to diversify what is growing on the land. I don't really know where to begin with this. Which other animals are appropriate in rotation with horses? How many horses can this land reasonably support? Should they be paddocked? Can anyone suggest some resources for me to increase my understanding?
Thanks,
Gani
 
John Polk
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A good video to start with is Greg Judy's. He doesn't explain the nuts-and-bolts, but I feel it should be required viewing for anybody planning to pasture large livestock:

Greg Judy Youtube
 
Tyler Ludens
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http://holisticmanagement.org/

 
gani et se
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Location: Douglas County OR
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John, funny you should mention Greg Judy's presentation, that is exactly what got me thinking about the subject! It's just cattle and horses are so different in how they eat. What's appropriate for cattle may not be a good match for horses.
Ludi, (er, should that be Tyler now?) thanks for the holistic management site. I will spend some time on it now that I know about it, and see what I can glean.
There are some sites that will sell you a consultation about holistically grazing horses, but not worth it to me right now -- anyway they all seem to be in Australia...
The only thing that I have been able to glean so far is that I may not have an overabundance of horses, but I probably have a shortage of animals that eat other ways! Pigs, sheep, cows, etc.
I'll post back if I find anything in my reading, still welcoming other input!
Gani
 
Katy Whitby-last
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Location: North East Scotland
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My favourite resource on horse grazing is the book "paddock paradise" which explains how to construct a track system for your horses. It's great for barefoot horses.
 
Burra Maluca
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Katy Whitby-last wrote:My favourite resource on horse grazing is the book "paddock paradise" which explains how to construct a track system for your horses. It's great for barefoot horses.


I think from a permaculture point of view the track system needs some serious modifying.

From what I remember, the system tended to involve a relatively bare track which kept the horses moving, which is indeed great for their feet and general health. But it also meant feeding hay rather than grazing. This involves a lot extra work to make and distribute hay. Or money to buy hay. And it's also, in my opinion, not good for their teeth either. Horses' teeth 'grow' throughout their lives, like their feet do. But if they are fed hay they don't wear the front incisor teeth down at the natural rate, which in time means that the molars don't meet in the place that they should - in effect the horse has its mouth permanently wedged partly open and the molars, which are slightly offset so that the lower jaw fits slightly to the inside of the upper jaw, are much more likey to develop sharp edges. They normally wear at an angle, but the angle is greatly exaggeratead if they don't meet in the right place. Which, I believe, is the reason why horses these days all seem to need their teeth rasping/floating every year but the horses I knew in my youth never had their teeth attended to. The barefoot world seems to have fully grasped the importance of using rather than rasping/floating the feet, but many of the same principles apply equally to the teeth.

I think if the system could be modified so that the horses grazed rather than ate cut and carried forage, and was tweaked with suitable species/varieties of grazing plants then it would be eminently suitable for permaculture systems. One of my many planned projects is to fence the ten acre strip of land I bought a few years ago and dig a water retention pond, or ponds, along the middle of it, rehydrating the landscape while simultaneously providing a 'track system' which encourages my donkeys to keep moving around it rather than plonking themselves in the middle of the field and just eating continuously instead of moving.

 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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I am certainly designing mine so that they eat what is on the track rather than hay. I am going to try creating a series of serpentine loops going across our really steep field with terracing and hedging so that the horses have browsing from the hedges as well as the grass. I am also going to include lots of herbs so that they can self-medicate.
 
gani et se
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Location: Douglas County OR
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Burra, you have raised some issues I have thought of, and one (about the teeth) that I knew nothing about. I haven't read anything which is pointing toward fresh forage, just primarily dried.
Katy, what kind of hedges and herbs?
Gani
 
Fred Morgan
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We tend to figure 4 to 5 acres per horse is about right here in the tropics where grass grows year round. This is not on particularly good soil. If the horses start eating bark, it may well mean they are missing something in their diet.

We have a lot of horses, like over 12, in the various plantations. Mainly for work. Horses need a lot of food for their size, here they figure it is 3 times as much as a cow of the same weight.
 
Katy Whitby-last
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Location: North East Scotland
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For the hedging I am planning to include Hawthorn for the berries, roses for the hips (these are very good for hooves), willow as they will eat it when they need pain relief, Wormwood for helping with worms.

I also find that the horses will seek out tree trunks to chew on to naturally grind their teeth down.

If I could find some up here I would also include a pile of dolomitic limestone in large chunks for them to chew on. It's great for their feet and teeth.
 
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