When considering the layout of grass pasture there are many variables that must be considered,
What type of facility is being planned? Herds in private facilities tend to be smaller and more stable than in boarding facilities, therefore the pastures can be larger and accomodate more horses.
How many and what type of horses are being kept? Stallions require more space than geldings and mares.
How much turn-out do they get and what portion of their diet is the pasture expected to provide? A horse strictly on pasture will require approximately 1 acre of pasture each month.
The key to pasture and Paddock design is FLEXIBILITY
In a successful facility the Planning of the facility and the management of the horses mesh together seamlessly. The following guidelines will help you in planning flexible and functional pastures.
Design with the horses needs and the plant growth patterns in mind. Plan the pastures to allow for rotating the animals between pastures or subdivide a large pasture with temporary fencing to prevent spot overgrazing.
Design the layout on paper first. An aerial photo can be a great help, or you may be able to obtain a topographic map form your county planning or building department.
Plan pastures to allow for a 30 day rotation, this will prevent extensive overgrazing.
Plan paddocks to be as square as possible, it will take less fencing overall for square paddocks, and there is better grazing utilization and manure distribution.
Each pasture should provide approxamitly the same amount of grazing matter. An area with poor soil may require twice the area to produce the same amount of suitable grazing.
In certain climates a sacrafice paddock may be required to protect the pasture form destruction from shod feet.
Plan pastures on hilly land so the horses will graze along the contour rather then up and down the hill. Grazing occpurs more naturally along the countours, and it will also help in reducing erosion.
Provide fencing to eliminate access to streams and ponds.
Where possible try to plan pastures that will reduce the amount of time it take to turn out and bring in horses.
Avoid fence line with acute angles, doing this will reduce the risk of a horse getting cornered by herd members.
Where possible provide a 12’aisle between paddocks containing stallions.
Contributed By: Tom Croce