Land News

Equestrian grazing workshop

Lawson Fairbank, 19th April 2007

The British Grassland Society (BGS) recently brought together equine and farming communities at a ‘managing grassland for horses’ workshop to give farmers hoping to diversify into equestrian businesses an overview of what was involved, especially in terms of grassland management.

Equine consultant Nicola Greenhalgh suggested the absolute minimum necessary facilities for a livery yard were, smart, safe stabling (a minimum of 12x12ft per box for horses); plenty of space; turnout and/or a covered horse-walker; a manege of at least 20x40m and an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Depending on your intended market the following may be viewed as luxuries or essentials; additional maneges, covered washing areas with hot running water, a drying room for rugs, a solarium for the horses and kitchen facilities for clients.

Land for Grazing

Garry Holter of Demeter Grassland Management recommended avoiding ryegrass for grazing horses as it can be too sugar-rich. This type of grass was cultivated and “improved” as animal food during and after the war to help put weight on food animals. However it is bad news for horses and indeed all grazing animals as it can induce laminitis and due to its monoculture format doesn’t provide a balanced diet.

Grazing land for horses should contain a mix of species, including herbs such as natural clovers provide horses with vitamins and minerals. An ideal horse paddock should contain five to ten species of grass and as many as thirty species of herbs.

Paddock size and fencing

Equestrian consultant Nicola Greenhalgh said that under no circumstances must there be any barbed wire in fields where horses are turned out and suggested that five-bar gatesare the ideal.

Grazing for horses as part of a farm business

Richard Price, farm manager of Moreton Morrell College, advised that anyone planning on setting up an equine unit first put in place the required infrastructure.

This should include: tracks, troughs, removable electric fencing to allow rotation of paddocks, easy machinery access and back fencing, if strip grazing, to prevent horses grazing regrowth.

He advised regular testing of the soil to help establish best NPK rates. “Take care with nitrogen rates as if they are too high they create health problems via lush grazing, such as colic, “ he said. “We apply 20:10:10 every year.”

The workshop showed that equestrian diversification can be profitable and rewarding.

Garry Holter offered the final word; “Don’t just see horses as a nice source of income because if you spend that income repairing the damage they do, you will not get a profit. By careful planning, looking at what you’ve got and making sure you don’t have to many horses for the available land, you will make a profit.”

Land for Sale from Vantage Land

Vantage Land spealises in freehold land for sale across England. We sell land from 2 acres in size as a tangible asset that could be used for paddocks, farming or recreational purposes.

Call Vantage Land on 01727 701642

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