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View Full Version : For those who have wooded acreage



okggo
Jan. 21, 2009, 11:55 AM
Tell me what you have done with it :)

We have probably 2.5-3 acres of pricker bushes and trees that we have very very slowly been clearing out (have a bush hog on the tractor, and a walk behind for areas we can't get the Deere).

I want some to be in the horses turn-out/pasture area and the rest make a small XC course out of.

My question is maintenance, and how to go about the whole thing. We have a small area stripped of brush that we could put the horses on now. The rest I've been mowing down with the push hog b/c we can't get the tractor over the creek. It's a slow process and we have winter on our side, but I've noticed a lot of the areas end up pushed down vs cut/shredded. My fear......spring. Prickers come alive and grow faster than I can possibly keep up with. My question...if we put the horses on there once we get the majority of the brush flattened, will they help keep it maintained (aka tramp it down) when things start growing again?

I've thought about goats, but I really don't want more animals to care for, plus we would need special fencing to keep them in (we have coated hot wire - Ramm).

So for those of you that have horses on wooded areas, do they keep it cleared? For those of you that have cleared areas, how did you do it, did it last, what kind of maintenance, etc.

birdsong
Jan. 21, 2009, 12:01 PM
Well, goats would really do the trick and you could use them seasonally from a goat person probably....think about getting the fencing reworked.

Not something everyone would do..but my friend who is away 6 mos and home again has land covered with those sticker burrs ..ugh...she also has a pet cow that a farmer keeps for her and brings home when she's here. Old MooMoo clears them right out. hehe

county
Jan. 21, 2009, 12:04 PM
We have 4 pastures with wooded areas in them ranging from 9 acres to about 60 acres. We cut alot for lumber and fire wood, have cleared some areas after the trees were cut down we bulldozed out the larger stupms and dug a few. Went in with a brush disk and worked the ground up then seeded to clover and grasses for pasture. Most land thats wooded around here is more valuable then pasture land for logging and fire wood also sells much higher for hunting land.

theoldgreymare
Jan. 21, 2009, 12:14 PM
Well, goats would really do the trick and you could use them seasonally from a goat person probably


Pigs will eat and root up anything in their path and quickly learn to respect a single hot wire. They are easy to care for and a plus is that you can eat them, if you are so inclined, when they are grown. We just raised two for consumption and the difference in taste is amazing.

Anyway...we have 28 wooded acres that we want to start clearing to eventually put in more pasture. We plan on putting up movable "paddocks" with hot wire and letting two pigs have at it. When one area is cleared they will be moved on to the next. When a few acres are brush free, we will then cut the trees and remove stumps.

tabula rashah
Jan. 21, 2009, 12:22 PM
I have 6 acres of woods and brush- Honestly I only cleared the path where I put the fence- and then I turned them out. They were way better brush hogs than any goats I've ever had- They're paddocks are completely clear now. And for those that are worried my horses ate weird things- I did go thru to make sure there weren't toxic plants in there and they always hay available.

okggo
Jan. 21, 2009, 12:49 PM
County, do your horses ever go in the woods? Both our fields have pasture, so I figured they would probably stick with the grass and avoid the wooded area.

Tabula, was it dense? I'm talking THICK under brush here, and 95% of that has prickers. If I thought they would keep it tramped down, I'd have no problem extending their pasture and giving them access to it, but we fenced it off because we were afraid they might get hurt in there.

I guess I've always had horses that would find things to stab themselves with, so try not to give them the opportunity. But it kills me to have that land and it's basically useless at the moment, and I am 100% sure I won't be able to keep up with the brush clearing this spring without some help either eating it or tramping it down. Most of it is across the creek and I'm using essentially a beefed up lawn mower. It would be different if we could get the loader and bush hog back there....

county
Jan. 21, 2009, 12:54 PM
Oh ya are horses go through the woods all the time they use the deer trails and just make them bigger. If you turn them in the wooded area early in the year they do a better job of eating things down. But the cattle are better at it by far.

lorilu
Jan. 21, 2009, 12:55 PM
What about horses eating the bark from the trees? I have a 3 A pasture with a small area of woods... last year a mule taught my filly to strip the bark off the trees and eat it... now the woods area is hot wired off.... I tried everything to break the habit except the supplement quitt".. No luck... they just pulled the chicken wire down, and I think they enjoyed the hot wauce!

So now, as I look at the back 2 acres of forest, planned to be another paddock, I am having second thoughts.

L

county
Jan. 21, 2009, 01:05 PM
In 40 years of owning 100's of horses and a couple mules I've never had even one eat bark. I think they do it either out of boredom or lack of a mineral in their diet. We have lots of trees and they never even rub on them.

tabula rashah
Jan. 21, 2009, 01:21 PM
[QUOTE=okggo;3822862]

Tabula, was it dense? I'm talking THICK under brush here, and 95% of that has prickers. If I thought they would keep it tramped down, I'd have no problem extending their pasture and giving them access to it, but we fenced it off because we were afraid they might get hurt in there.

[QUOTE]

Yeah, there was some pretty dense stuff in there, downed trees, briars, etc, but I have not had a single issue (knock on wood).

[QUOTE]What about horses eating the bark from the trees? I have a 3 A pasture with a small area of woods... last year a mule taught my filly to strip the bark off the trees and eat it... now the woods area is hot wired off.... I tried everything to break the habit except the supplement quitt".. No luck... they just pulled the chicken wire down, and I think they enjoyed the hot wauce! [QUOTE]

And, yes, they eat the bark, but since we are planning to take the trees down anyway, I wasn't too worried.

county
Jan. 21, 2009, 02:26 PM
I know of two horses that died of colic that had tree bark packed in their stomach.

goodhors
Jan. 21, 2009, 05:02 PM
I would put cows inside the woods area, let them clean out for me. They do an excellent job, really no trouble if you have good fence. Get more than one cow, so they can be a herd. You probably want to feed them some hay as well, brush may not be real nutritious. Cows will walk out and browse, even with hay, which is what you want. Our neighbor had cattle thru his woods, looks like a park. Mowed smooth, no brush at all, just trees. Cows trimmed trees up as high as they could reach, so you can see thru nicely. Maybe you could rent or borrow some young cattle, no big money for you to spend on them.

Cows or cattle, do drink a LOT of water. More than horses who are larger. Make sure they have plenty of water at all times.

Cleaning woods the first time by hand, is hard and time consuming. I have had pretty good luck keeping mine clear in the sunny areas, with the weed whacker. Mow all the green stuff monthly, so whatever it is, can't set seeds. Monthly, keeps regrowth managable to mow fast. So no thistles, no foxtails, no grapevines, honeysuckle bushes. I sprayed the poison ivy bi-weekly, until was gone. Start spraying real early in season, ivy leaves get waxy and shed the spray later. Get an ivy sprout now and again, spray it, so no ivy in there now. In more dense shade areas, the brush is very small all summer, just get saplings growing and not many of them. Brush or growth is not really a problem between the shaded trees, so not mowed.

JSwan
Jan. 21, 2009, 05:17 PM
[QUOTE=okggo;3822862
Tabula, was it dense? I'm talking THICK under brush here, and 95% of that has prickers. If I thought they would keep it tramped down, I'd have no problem extending their pasture and giving them access to it, but we fenced it off because we were afraid they might get hurt in there.
[/QUOTE]


Most of my land is bottomland. And I'm in the South. It's basically hardwoods with brush, foxgrape, greenbriar.

Goats will make very fast work of the underbrush; enough that you can get in there with the tractor and clear out what's left.

But find a goat herder - if you just get one or two goats and you have many acres to clear it will never happen. Get a herd in there - mow it down - get 'em out. Put the pigs in - have 'em turn it - get 'em out.

Or just stick with the goats and not worry about the pigs.

CB/TB
Jan. 21, 2009, 08:52 PM
We have almost 6 acres and have been slowly clearing it over the years. I now have 4 areas fenced . We have one more section that needs to be cleared and fenced. We've only had a tractor for about 5 years, but it's amazing how much we've been able to do in that time. Prior to that we'd have someone in with a brush cutter and we'd get any trees down to get the sun in. Once we fenced an area, our goats would take over and you'd be amazed how fast they can take care of weeds and brush. In the newest area we have stinging nettle that I have to weed wack a few times a season. The patch is getting smaller, and once it's cut and dries, the goats snap it up. Our area is mostly brush, pine and some hardwood, and old apple trees. good luck- I suggest the goat, too. they do take some care, but worth it.

lorilu
Jan. 21, 2009, 11:00 PM
In 40 years of owning 100's of horses and a couple mules I've never had even one eat bark. I think they do it either out of boredom or lack of a mineral in their diet. We have lots of trees and they never even rub on them.

Well, they get quality food (seminole brand,senior and ultra dynamix), salt, and lots of hay (coastal and O/A), and the older gelding gets a joint supplement. Here in Florida the pasture is grazable year round. I tried a mineral supplement (source) to no effect. I think they are looking for the sweet sap under the bark - I find tooth marks on the stripped areas. They go for the elms and hickory.... pretty much leave the oaks alone, but not entirely.

any suggestions?
L

ReSomething
Jan. 22, 2009, 02:42 AM
Pigs will eat and root up anything in their path and quickly learn to respect a single hot wire. They are easy to care for and a plus is that you can eat them, if you are so inclined, when they are grown. We just raised two for consumption and the difference in taste is amazing.

Anyway...we have 28 wooded acres that we want to start clearing to eventually put in more pasture. We plan on putting up movable "paddocks" with hot wire and letting two pigs have at it. When one area is cleared they will be moved on to the next. When a few acres are brush free, we will then cut the trees and remove stumps.

DH intends to do the same, on a smaller scale.

okggo
Jan. 22, 2009, 08:35 AM
Suggestions on fencing for goats? I don't want to spend a fortune putting no-climb on 2 acres of woods. We have the horses fenced with the coated hot wire from Ramm. Because this area is pretty impossible to get to, and we are doing the fencing ourselves, it has to be metal t-posts with the occasional braced/cemented corner post. We can't get the tractor or the post hole digger back there, as there is a fairly large and deep creek spanning the whole perimeter.

No idea how to find animals to borrow. I'd feel odd going up to the local cow farm and asking if I could borrow a couple....

What is the best, goats, pigs or cows? Regardless the horses are going to hate me for even thinking about this...

CB/TB
Jan. 22, 2009, 09:55 AM
We have 4' woven livestock fencing with a top and mid "hot wire". We did all the fencing ourselves and before the tractor, we ( MR CB/TB) dug all the post holes ourselves with a manual post hole digger. Wooden posts for corners and mid sections and T posts with caps in between. We built stone walls with all the rocks we dug up, and some were so big we had to bury them, rather than pull them out. If you can clear a path for the fencing it's not too bad. We used a come along to stretch the fencing . It is a lot of work, but now I have fencing for whatever I want to contain. I also like the livstock( or horse) fencing because it keeps things OUT as well as in, and it might be possible for a single strand of whatever to break, but , unless a tree fell on it, the woven fence probably would be OK , even if partially down until you fixed it. Anyway, that's what we did and we have one more section to clear and fence. We live on a busy road, so I don't want any chance of my guys getting out.

ReSomething
Jan. 22, 2009, 12:37 PM
There is actually a goat sized mesh, 4" x 4". It is less expensive by far than diamond mesh or 2x4 no-climb. I don't know whether it is suitable for horses, I worry about shoes getting caught with that size. Goats will climb up on anything and get over the fence, or under it, or through the little gap between the gate and the fence. So rock walls aren't so good for keeping em in. What I've been told is that goats are the high weed mowers - they are browsers and eat all the bushes. Pigs are the rototillers, they root and disturb the earth. We have a drainage in the back that the little 4x can get past, but DH feels real iffy about the tractor, so he is contemplating livestock to do the work and provide food or a little income.

CB/TB
Jan. 22, 2009, 01:49 PM
ReSomething, you're right about fencing. I have one goat that can clear a stall door. Our stoneworks are within the fencing- just a place to put the rocks we dig up, and give the goats something to play on. When this goat came,, as part of a pair, we were advised she was a jumper. We added a higher hot wire and , don't laugh, hung soda cans off of that with wire. It worked. I have only one spot that she can clear and it's inside the fencing anyway. She climbs onto a rock then jumps hot wire and fencing, but it just goes into the main pasture area. Luckily, being herd animals, if one did get out, she'd probably stay within sight of the rest. Plus, my horse seems to "count noses" periodically during the day and goes on a hunt of she's one short.

jeano
Jan. 22, 2009, 02:04 PM
How about a controlled burn? Call your local soil and water conservation guy and enquire. Here they will come look, advise, bulldoze firebreaks, and do the burn.

okggo
Jan. 22, 2009, 02:15 PM
jeano- I want to keep the trees, lose the brush.

Goats sound like too much of a challenge, lol. Esp back where I'm talking about- outta site!

ReSomething
Jan. 23, 2009, 03:25 AM
ReSomething, you're right about fencing. I have one goat that can clear a stall door. Our stoneworks are within the fencing- just a place to put the rocks we dig up, and give the goats something to play on. When this goat came,, as part of a pair, we were advised she was a jumper. We added a higher hot wire and , don't laugh, hung soda cans off of that with wire. It worked. I have only one spot that she can clear and it's inside the fencing anyway. She climbs onto a rock then jumps hot wire and fencing, but it just goes into the main pasture area. Luckily, being herd animals, if one did get out, she'd probably stay within sight of the rest. Plus, my horse seems to "count noses" periodically during the day and goes on a hunt of she's one short.

We have a neighbor down the road with pygmies. He uses pallets and bedsprings and old tin roof and what look like the plastic sides from old doughboy pools for his fence, and invariably the little buggers get out about once a week, one in particular, but all he ever does is hang out in the road and try to get back in.

To the OP, it's too bad that goatherds and shepherds are sort of non-existant jobs here in the US. That was how it used to be done, no having to build fences, because they really do a good job at thinning underbrush.

rainechyldes
Jan. 23, 2009, 06:00 AM
I have lots of wooded pasture. All I did was de-limb the trees up to about 9 feet, so they wouldn't stab themselves (mostly pine and cedar- cedar trees I didn't bother with so much) Cleared out some of the more annoying underbrush, cleared the fencelines, fenced, let em at it. They keep it pretty mowed down.

smokygirl
Jan. 23, 2009, 06:24 AM
Suggestions on fencing for goats? I don't want to spend a fortune putting no-climb on 2 acres of woods. We have the horses fenced with the coated hot wire from Ramm. Because this area is pretty impossible to get to, and we are doing the fencing ourselves, it has to be metal t-posts with the occasional braced/cemented corner post. We can't get the tractor or the post hole digger back there, as there is a fairly large and deep creek spanning the whole perimeter.

No idea how to find animals to borrow. I'd feel odd going up to the local cow farm and asking if I could borrow a couple....

What is the best, goats, pigs or cows? Regardless the horses are going to hate me for even thinking about this...

Ask someone you know that has the animals... really, a lot of people with youngstock would probably love the oppurtunity. There are some people (the ones I know are probably not in your area though) that even rent their goats out for it!

erinwillow
Jan. 24, 2009, 10:34 AM
We also have pasture and wooded areas and I totally agree about the prickers--yikes. .they're coming with Spring and there is no way around it. We've been doing much the same thing, sloooooooowly cutting, mowing, etc. around one of the pastures in the hopes of widening it by next summer. The problem I've noticed is that prickers have these root systems that travel horizontally underground and so it seems they are indestructable (ever tried up-rooting one??!!! ugh!!:eek:) I'm not open to goats again--why did they think my car was a mountain??:lol::lol: So, open to hearing what others have to say. .

Weighaton
Jan. 24, 2009, 10:46 AM
We have both wooded and pasture. The horses love going into the woods and they really do a great job of clearing the land themselves. We have a large draft horse that acts like a bulldozer. You can hear him just knocking down small trees.

If I were you I would clear a fenceline wide enough for you to maintain both sides of it and turn the horses out. Our mistake was not leaving enough room on the outside of the fenceline for the mower and the brush and briars that the horses couldn't get to quickly grew into the fence and made a mess. Now I can just hop on the riding mower and ride around the outside cutting and checking the fenceline at the same time. Plus it looks much neater.

okggo
Jan. 26, 2009, 12:02 PM
I think we are going to clear out as much as we can and hope the horses help with the rest. It gets really complicated to think of special fencing for goats, and borrowing random livestock, lol.

On another note, I made a discovery this weekend while bush hogging of probably a 100 year old barbed wire fence. Sighs...this thing is broken in to a million piece everywhere and now, sadly, covered in mowed/brushed and shredded pricker bushes. So the job just got harder.

But I admit I actually ENJOY (in fact I find myself laughing in delight) destroying pricker bushes. When one grabs me and I can in turn shred it to pieces. I just wish there weren't so many of them!!!!!!!!!! Bleck!

Okay, another fencing question for woods, as I said, we can't get the tractor in b/c that would involve crossing a really steep creek with no easy entry/exit point. So we are bound by metal T-posts but I'm at a loss what to use for the corners. I could use a manual post hole digger and set wood ones, I suppose. The trick will be getting enough tension back there.