We are often asked “how many acres of pasture do I need for my horses?”. In today’s blog we are using one owner’s experience to review how to determine the carrying capacity of your horse pasture to ensure optimal grazing conditions.
Expanding Your Herd
We’ve finally purchased a horse property! It’s 7 acres with about 5 acres in pasture. We have 2 horses, but are looking to expand our herd. However, we do not want more horses than what our pasture can hold since we do not want to feed hay (or much hay) during the summer. How many horses can our pasture support?
How Much Pasture Do Your Horses Need?
In general, 2 acres per one 1,000-pound horse is recommended if owners expect the pastures to provide most of the horse’s nutrition during the growing season. However, this is highly variable and depends on several factors including geographical location, soil type, rainfall, and management. Although location, soil type, and rainfall are mostly out of an owners control, management can be controlled and includes mowing, fertilizing, controlling weeds, resting (e.g. avoiding over-grazing), and dragging; all recommended best practices for horse pasture management.
Your 5 acres of pasture should be able to feed 2.5 1,000-pound horses during the summer grazing season. If your farm is on sandy soil, there is a drought, or you choose not to do any pasture management (e.g. mowing, fertilizing, weed control, resting, and dragging), then 5 acres might not be enough for your two horses and hay supplementation would be needed. On the other hand, if your farm has heavier soil, there is good rainfall, and you practice good pasture management, then your pasture should be able to support your two horses, and maybe one more, during the summer grazing season.
At Nutrena, we believe proper nutrition plays the biggest role for a lifetime of health and happiness for every horse. That’s why Nutrena horse feeds are specifically formulated for every life stage and activity level.
Ready to ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition at feeding time, every time? Find the perfect feed formulated specifically for horse’s needs with our Feed Selector Tool.
Photo credit: Michelle DeBoer, PhD, UW-River Falls.