Pasture land vs hay fields for horses

promiseacres

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My husband and I are not in agreement with how to best manage our new farm land (20 acres total). We agree with a most things and at first I agreed that in the minimal pasture, more hay ground. But seeing a couple of our older horses not holding their weight with more hay this past summer I am thinking a 3 pasture rotation. (Granted it's just old cow pasture made into hay this year, we should have better quality hay in the future.) H is the Hay fields or future hay fields, P is proposed Pasture area
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At this time we have 10 acres planned for hay ground, 3.5 acres for pasture, 1.5 acres is barns, barn lot, and arena area, 0.5 acre for yard, 2 acres will stay wooded, and 1 acre for a pond/recreation area. These are estimates. ;)
I am thinking we need to double the pasture for (3) 2 acre pastures we can rotate 1 week on, 2 weeks off. We could do 3 pastures of 1.33 but with 2-3 horses that would be pastured they'd not last long. Plus DH wants cattle (like 2). We do have 2 horses and 2 mini horses that currently do great on dry lots and hay, one of the horses can not have full pasture to past founder. For these 4 DH's plan would work great. Obviously hay ground can always become pasture and vice a versa. His thoughts are horses even rotated are terrible at "properly" using pasture ground therefore hay fields. We are have a 3.5 acre field that's ready to be planted this fall yet, will be a clover/orchard grass mix. In the future we will have at least two other varieties also, one field will have some alfalfa (may be 100%?) and I'd really like some timothy... but hasn't been determined and other fields will stay the cow pasture grass at this time.

Below photos are our current pastures, as you can see some spots are overgrazed while others is beautiful and lush, of course the horses prefer the shorter grass... and though I rotate and pull them off regularly I haven't found a good solution. Granted we are currently over stocked (IMO 5 horses, 2 minis on 4 acres, 1.75 acres is pasture divided into 2, then 1 acre divided into dry lots). From some recent research 3 pastures to rotate would be better. The two horse grazing are the two that lost weight on the grass hay. Daisy is 15 yr old QH and Duke is a 20 year old Morgan, both have had teeth floated within the past year and are on a senior feed. Still can see ribs though in the photo they look pretty good. Both were overweight easy keepers when we got them (Duke 3 years ago, Daisy 18 mos ago). But they've never been a super easy keeper as my halflinger is... :rolleyes:
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So any "expert" opinions on more pasture vs hay ground?
 

Baymule

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How long to make a hay crop and how many cuttings a year? How many bales needed per year? If you can meet your needs in 2 cuttings and have any growing time left, perhaps you could rotate in the hay field.
 

promiseacres

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How long to make a hay crop and how many cuttings a year? How many bales needed per year? If you can meet your needs in 2 cuttings and have any growing time left, perhaps you could rotate in the hay field.
that's a good idea. we expect with the 10 acres we'll have extra... but I'm not sure once we get a couple of calves...I have no clue about how much they eat...
 

Beekissed

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You may want to check out Greg Judy on YT about intensive grazing and his views about making hay on your land. Incredible information!
 
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