So, through a series of mishaps and various disasters, I have found myself in the position of having to bring all 4 of my horses to live at home with me. I have a small 2 acre homestead, and have set aside 1/4 acre space for my equine friends. Obviously, this space will be strictly a dry-lot, with no grazing available, and heavy manure management will be necessary to keep odor and flies at bay. Are there any specific tidbits of advice you guys can offer, to help me succeed in this endeavor, and help to make the horses a benefit to my homestead, rather than a liability? So far, I am thinking that they will be helpful for transportation/fossil fuel reduction, fertilizer/compost production, and free chicken food as I build a manure compost pile (along the lines of Karl Hammer/Geoff Lawton's plan for no-grain compost fed chickens setups). Any other ideas?
Sorry to hear it is not the situation you want. My horses stay in a dry lot at night so they don't get too fat, in winter or drought. What works great for us is to dump (over the winter) manure out real thick, on contour to kill sod or weeds. then grow a 3+ sister combination. Corn, amaranth, perl millet for the tall heavy feeder. Bean, cowpea, vetch for legume/vine and squash or pumpkins. We pick off what we want and feed stalks and legume vines to horses and sheep. (my horses don't like squash or vines)
This fall the ground was in shape to try Eastern gamma grass and legumes for hay next year if i'm lucky. or the next year the ground does good for most garden crops.
We are doing this between fruit and chestnuts which will be feed in the future.
It does not get us out of buying yet, but it helps (and gives variety). with your chickens doing compost in the summer you should to have great fertility.
We have been on a one acre dry lot in the Mojave Desert for ten years with 6 horses. Our place is too small and we have too many horses to reduce inputs with grazing or browsing, we feed Tmothy hay and supplements mixed with pellets. We have reduced output by composting the poop and using it in the garden and mix into the sand in the dry lot to help retain moisture. You can see what I've got going on at www.equuscape.org Our horses live in an 'open equine environment' with wind break and shelter but no stalls or barn. In this arrangement the sapce is organized into lanes that lead to water, feed, minerals places to roll and play. The horses are motivated to move around and exercise as a herd and I find that is of huge benefit to their wellbeing.