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View Full Version : Tell me about your sacrifice area!!



Meredith Clark
Nov. 29, 2009, 09:44 PM
I'd like to hear about everyone's sacrifice areas and set ups! (exciting stuff huh?)

I've started renting a little horse farm that's almost 5 acres.

If you look in the lower right hand corner of the field there is an existing building that is a garage, stall, and run in with a fence attached to the run in. I am planning on putting THIS (http://www.shawneestructures.com/horse-jn/runin-combo-10x36bg.jpg) next to where the current barn is opening to the south.

It's not the best situation because that area of the field is low and is wet (not that a week worth of rain has helped that) because of this, and the inherent issues with small acreage i'm going to have to make a sacrifice area.

I'm thinking that although it's wet I would connect it to the run-in and make sure I put lots of good footing down.

Moving the new barn isn't really an option because there would be no water or electric that could run to it. (the water and electric goes to the existing barn)

How did you guys do you sacrifice areas? What footing did you use? Did you do anything else special?

Hopefully it will stay dry long enough for the excavator to come in and lad down the site pad for the barn and he can do the sacrific area at the same time!

shawneeAcres
Nov. 29, 2009, 09:49 PM
I've had many farms from very small (3.85 acres) to my now 20.5 acre farm. I have had a few small paddocks that didn't ahve any "special" footing etc that were used when fields need a rest, but my bigger fields in winter, unless they have been seeded, are being used. Yes it gets muddy and chopped up at the gates and where I feed hay, but by spring it is back to normal. I don't worrk too much over it. I currently have one paddock that is "dirt" about 140 feet by 100 ft. The rest have some grass in them.

Meredith Clark
Nov. 29, 2009, 10:00 PM
Excuse my mid-Atlantic ignorance :winkgrin: What's the weather like where you are? Is it as wet from Nov-April like it is here?

I would love to just electric tape off a little area but I feel like it'd become a mud pit and the one horse has already abscessed twice this fall!

MistyBlue
Nov. 29, 2009, 11:45 PM
Meredith, I'm in CT and my entire barn and paddock areas are in low land. Actually they're in a bowl...surrounded on 3 sides by tall ledge outcrops that all the wet runs off of into my barn and paddock areas. Added plus is that the entire length of the second paddock runs alongside and below the road and the town installed 2 road drains there that drain all the wet from the road and area across the road into my grass paddock. :eek:
So boy howdy could that place get wet when we moved in! By late spring the entire 2 acres of bowl area down there looked like a pond. :no:
Swayles from one road drain to the other helped...funnels all water from the drains and running down the ledge into the swayle and then across the paddock we had another swayle dug so a few months of the year that's an actual stream from run off. But it no longer sheets across that grass paddock.
My main paddock is about 75x220 I think and is attached to my barn. My barn is on a 4' frost wall foundation and raised a tad up off the ground (about a 5-6" step up into the barn) so it can't get wet in there. My aisle is set up to double as a run in when the horses are out, so maybe consider having your pad built up so the barn sits higher. That way the run in will stay dry and so will the stalls. I also had all ground around the barn graded away from the barn.
The main paddock we had scraped...brought a dozer in and removed every last inch of topsoil. All the grass too, but two horses in that size turnout would mean grass would never grow there anyways. No topsoil means nothing to get soaked and create deep mud. Dozer then graded it from west (by the road) to south at aboout a 5-7 degree slope. So the harder non-soft dirt surface that's slightly sloped means water sheets right down it and keeps going. Nothing to sit and cause puddles or churned up ground. Every day I pick that paddock free of manure, but that takes me all of 5-10 minutes after bringing them in because it's a packed kind of flat surface, easy to spot and scoop poop in. Leftover manure causes buttloads of muck in wet weather.
This set up for my main paddock and barn has kept my paddock mud free and barn dry for 6 years. This past summer we had 5-6 weeks of nonstop rain. Seriously, not a dry day in that time and most days it poured all day long. I could still very easily wheel a full wheelbarrow across it without the tire sinking. The soft wet top of the surface never got more than 1.5" deep in the 6 years I've been here. No gravel or process/stone dust needed so far.
If you fence in a smaller area around the barn and scrape it down and then grade it for a slight slant, it should stay decent I would think. Unless the ground underneath is clay...then all bets are off with that. If it's clay I would scrape even deeper, put down some sort of barrier like cow carpet and then stone dust on top and pack it. Clay can be a real b*tch to deal with and it swallows gravel and stone dust like it's a full time job.

Meredith Clark
Nov. 30, 2009, 12:23 AM
I don't think that my ground is clay..

So you have the horses just standing on dirt? I can't believe that works without some sort of foot on it! really cool though

manyspots
Nov. 30, 2009, 02:24 AM
We didn't do anything special when we set up my sacrafice area. My two have used it for a year now and the worst it got was hoof deep... not even to the coronet bands.

We did not have it in the budget to do the footing so we spent the year watching what it did. It is a sand and plain old dirt fill mix. I'd venture to say more dirt than sand. My paddock is roughly 60 x 100 and attached to the barn so the boys have in and out access to their stalls 24/7. It does slope slightly downhill and into a man made swail we dug out with an excavator during the barn construction process. This helps a lot after the heavy rains we just had and will be getting again.

My fencing is three strands of Horseguard bi-polar fencing and a combination of t-posts (with sleeves) and PT posts for corners. It is always electrified.

Next year I will be bringing in sand. It WILL be in the budget. But for now, its OK. No thrush, no scratches and no other funky hoof or leg issues so that makes me happy!

Guilherme
Nov. 30, 2009, 07:50 AM
I don't think that my ground is clay..

So you have the horses just standing on dirt? I can't believe that works without some sort of foot on it! really cool though

I live in East TN; we get almost 60" of rain per year. Our horses stand on dirt, but we try and get the dirt as dry as we can.

Putting a livestock facility onto low ground is generally a Bad Idea. You're creating a favorable environment for bacteria. You'll become familiar with "scratches" and "mud fever." Grooming will take extended periods of time. It's just a Bad Idea all 'round.

Is there any reason, besides cost, that you can't extend water and electric lines to a new location? Use the Discipline of the Yellow Pad and compare the costs of vet. services in a low lying area to the cost of running lines to a higher area. You might be surprised.

If you must use lower lying areas then consider a good drainage program. From you signiture it appears that you are an architect? That should be a "no brainer" to a professional! ;) If you are not that professional then start with your County Extension Agent and have them make a site visit. Then let them help you set up an appropriate drainage program.

Horsekeeping on small acreage is quite possible, but requires thoughtful planning and execution. Avoiding low areas where possible is one of those planning factors.

Good luck in your program.

G.

Bank of Dad
Nov. 30, 2009, 09:02 AM
So I'm in Maryland also.
I have two sacrifice areas. When we had the barn built, the area was raised up. The section of dirt in the back that faced south was graded so water would run off and the top part packed with stone dust and millings. The lower part was mixed with sand. It has worked real well for the last 12 years. Three horses can stand around in that area.

The other area is an acre paddock that is basically the side of a gentle hill. So it is all dry, except of course, for the spot where the gate is and the corner where the horses want to stand. Thoses spots are disgusting mud. I'm not sure what to do about that corner without major excavation.

Meredith Clark
Nov. 30, 2009, 12:40 PM
I live in East TN; we get almost 60" of rain per year. Our horses stand on dirt, but we try and get the dirt as dry as we can.

Putting a livestock facility onto low ground is generally a Bad Idea. You're creating a favorable environment for bacteria. You'll become familiar with "scratches" and "mud fever." Grooming will take extended periods of time. It's just a Bad Idea all 'round.

Is there any reason, besides cost, that you can't extend water and electric lines to a new location? Use the Discipline of the Yellow Pad and compare the costs of vet. services in a low lying area to the cost of running lines to a higher area. You might be surprised.

If you must use lower lying areas then consider a good drainage program. From you signiture it appears that you are an architect? That should be a "no brainer" to a professional! ;) If you are not that professional then start with your County Extension Agent and have them make a site visit. Then let them help you set up an appropriate drainage program.

Horsekeeping on small acreage is quite possible, but requires thoughtful planning and execution. Avoiding low areas where possible is one of those planning factors.

Good luck in your program.

G.

I feel like you just called me stupid in the most polite way possible! :lol:

There are a few issues of why the barn is in a low spot. First off the land is rented and that's where the owner wants it. He already had his building there. Also because of where the water is (the pump and well) it would be a mess to extend the watermain it would go right through the pasture and would cost me a lot of money and make a huge mess!

The architecture firm in my signature is my father's... :)

foggybok
Nov. 30, 2009, 02:12 PM
Just finished ours before the nasty rains that washed out our road... Actually not finished, but finished for this year. We will add more nexy year... The first year we just put in some drains, I had to laugh as every place I started digging to put in a drain, I would hit a drain pipe already there. I guess we had the same thoughts as the old owner... Those old pipes just needed cleaning to be functional and we added some new ones in problem areas. Last year my barn was surrounded by water and muck and the barn itself got wet inside. The ground water level gets high enough that I actually had a fountain in one of my pastures, with water shooting out a foot high... This year, we added another drain and we put down geotextile fabric and a bunch of 3/4 minus on top. So far my barn is dry as a bone! And the area around it is staying dry too! I've kept the horse traffic to a minimum around it until it settles, but I'm just happy it's not a lake this year...... And we have had 3X the normal rainfail so far, an entire winter's worth already.... We are going to start having freezes soon, so it will be time to move them all up towards the house. That's the worst pasture, so we'll see how the new drainage holds up....
Basically the 1/2 acre behind the barn is no longer pasture and I keep them off the hills as much as possible so they don't tear then up.

Calvincrowe
Nov. 30, 2009, 02:25 PM
I'm in Foggybok's area--think wet, wet, wet for months at a time.

My barn is in a "wetter" spot, too, and we can't move it. Instead, you need to create a high ground through sloping and swaling your land.

Short of that, you can create a barrier between you and the dirt. Without a barrier like geo textile cloth, whatever you put on top of the wet dirt will just get mixed in with mud--so you'll have gravelly mud.

Here is what I did to change my sacrifice area (has access to barn and a 12 x 48 overhang for them to stay undercover in) from a 60 x 48 fetlock deep sucking pit of mud to a mud-free oasis:

We dug a french drainage ditch (1 foot deep, sloping away from barn, filled with large gravel). We then covered the area with geotextile cloth--surprisingly cheap. Then we covered that with 8" of screenings- very fine gravel with an angular nature. Easier on the feet and bodies of my old horses. You can also layer heavier gravel underneath, and top it with finer or round pea gravel.

This has kept my paddock area "dry" (some puddling during heavy downpours) and mud free for 3 years now. I tried wood "chips" (hogsfuel) and HATED it. Took that out. You also need to pick manure to keep the gravel free of organic material that will clog the cloth, rendering it useless at letter water flow thru gravel and away.

This is easiest done during dry months.

MistyBlue
Nov. 30, 2009, 02:53 PM
So you have the horses just standing on dirt? I can't believe that works without some sort of foot on it! really cool though

Yep, horses are on dirt that never turns to mud.
And I was as surprised as possible when it worked as well as my grading guy suggested it would. I honestly figured over time and with enough wet I'd end up with mud. But nope...never deep enough to be a bother at all. I think the "trick" to it is that I don't have loose topsoil at all. That paddock is scraped down to the hard packed subsoil. Which doesn't soak up water, water runs off the surface.
Although I have no idea if this will work in all areas of different types of ground, but it does work for me here.
Like Calvin mentions above, French Drains are also an enormous help. It's like an invisible swayle, water will run through the packed rock and covering over it and follow the path of least resistance away from your paddock and barn. You can backfill with rock or with an outdoor drainage pipe, which has holes all in the top to collect water and then channels it away.
If you're going to be tearing stuff up for drainage, consider a dry well added tooo. The area in front of my barn door is one big dry well. When they dug it out for the foundation I had that area also backfilled with large rock and some process on top and packed the whole thing tight. My barn has double front doors about 8' wide and the dry well is about 10' long along the front of the barn and about 5' wide and about 3.5-4' deep. It not only keeps mud away but when I bring buckets outside the barn to dump I can dump them right outside the door onto the dry well and it drains way down and disappears. Very convenient. I can also hold a horse there and hose them off or bathe them without getting water all over the place.

Meredith Clark
Nov. 30, 2009, 02:57 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions!

I called my excavator but he says it's still waaaay too soft to bring in a truck with any sort of stone, dust, sand etc.

I feel bad because as of now my horses have no shelter but thankfully it's been in the 50's and when it has rained it hasn't been a downpour.

I tried to let them in the existing run in shed but since the watermain went right in front of it the ground is too soft and my one horse stepped on a soft spot and sunk almost knee deep. I had to close off that area but I think that will be what I make into my sacrifice area when it gets harder.

For now I'm just sitting here reminding myself that it's not cold outside, they have blankets, and they are horses that won't melt in the rain...

sporthorselover
Nov. 30, 2009, 03:20 PM
we call it a dry lot or sand paddock...it is awesome.

built exactly like a conventional riding arena. excavate down below the soil line. grade with a slight slope to drain water where you want it to go. add 4 inches of compacted limestone dust, compacted till it's rock hard. on top of that, 2 inches of sharp sand.

this is where everyone gets turned out when it's raining, when the pastures need a rest, when someone needs to be on a diet, etc.

we live in southeastern pennsylvania.

Guilherme
Nov. 30, 2009, 04:40 PM
I feel like you just called me stupid in the most polite way possible! :lol:

Believe me when I say nothing of the sort was intended. If I'm gonna use the "s" word I'll not pussyfoot about! :lol:


There are a few issues of why the barn is in a low spot. First off the land is rented and that's where the owner wants it. He already had his building there. Also because of where the water is (the pump and well) it would be a mess to extend the watermain it would go right through the pasture and would cost me a lot of money and make a huge mess!

The architecture firm in my signature is my father's... :)

You've "filled in" a lot of blanks. If the owner of rented property wants it there then you're really got not much choice. That does not make the ground drier for the horses, though. :sadsmile:

I don't understand why water mains (and electric could not be extended). We have a spring house and the water main from it extends almost 500 feet. When we finish our ARCS fencing project the lines will run almost 1500 feet. That adds cost (particularly in your area where you might have to bury your line deeper) but there's no technical reason I'm aware of why it could not be done.

Of course, if the owner says "no" then that's a good reason why it won't be done. ;)

MD is still a pretty temperate place (we lived in Silver Spring for six years). You really don't have to do much for a horse at temps between 15F and 60F. Maybe you could consider putting your "dry lot" on higher ground and use a simple shelter like a run-in. They can be put up relatively easily and cheaply. That keeps the horses out of the low lying mud but provides some protection. Wall in two sides of the shelter and you'd likely have an adequate wind break.

Of course if the owner says "no" then you're back to square one.

Again, keeping horses (or any other critter exept maybe pigs) on low ground will ultimately cause problems.

And I'd get the experienced "family eye" that you've got out there and let them tell you what you can and can't do regarding drainage. :)

Good luck in your program.

G.

Sing Mia Song
Nov. 30, 2009, 04:40 PM
I don't think that my ground is clay..


If you are in Elkton, you likely have sandy soil (lucky dog!). I-95 is a rough marker--east of that tends to be sandy, west tends to be clay.

Here's an easy way to tell if you have clay:

1. Scrape a bit back with your bootheel. Is it red?

2. Pick up a handful. If it's wet, clay will be gooey, and will clump up if you squeeze a fistful. If it cluimps together momentarily, then crumbles, consider yourself lucky!

Meredith Clark
Nov. 30, 2009, 05:20 PM
If you are in Elkton, you likely have sandy soil (lucky dog!). I-95 is a rough marker--east of that tends to be sandy, west tends to be clay.

Here's an easy way to tell if you have clay:

1. Scrape a bit back with your bootheel. Is it red?

2. Pick up a handful. If it's wet, clay will be gooey, and will clump up if you squeeze a fistful. If it cluimps together momentarily, then crumbles, consider yourself lucky!

It's not red (more like a light brown) but it is pretty gooey if I step in it!

Meredith Clark
Nov. 30, 2009, 05:28 PM
I don't understand why water mains (and electric could not be extended). We have a spring house and the water main from it extends almost 500 feet. When we finish our ARCS fencing project the lines will run almost 1500 feet. That adds cost (particularly in your area where you might have to bury your line deeper) but there's no technical reason I'm aware of why it could not be done.

Of course, if the owner says "no" then that's a good reason why it won't be done. ;)

Money is an issue. I'm fresh out of college making a livable salary but more importantly I don't want to put too much money into a property that isn't mine. The watermain I had put in already was about 150 feet and cost me $1650 so I'd basically have to pay another $2000 to extend the water and electric to higher ground. This would not allow me to buy the barn I want and would also tear up the pasture IF I could even have it done in this wet weather.

The landlord also said he wants the barn next to the existing one and I don't really want to argue with someone who is allowing me to do all of this basically out of the goodness of his heart. He doesn't need to rent the fields and I'm hardly paying him anything to rent them!

[/QUOTE]
MD is still a pretty temperate place (we lived in Silver Spring for six years). You really don't have to do much for a horse at temps between 15F and 60F. Maybe you could consider putting your "dry lot" on higher ground and use a simple shelter like a run-in. They can be put up relatively easily and cheaply. That keeps the horses out of the low lying mud but provides some protection. Wall in two sides of the shelter and you'd likely have an adequate wind break.
[/QUOTE]

This is what I'm hoping for.. I'm more upset over the field getting torn up by them walking on it when it's soaking wet. They have full winter coats and blankets as well as the existing building to stand up against to break the wind.

I've thought about putting a run-in at the higher ground but I really don't want both a run-in AND the barn and I couldn't get the run-in to the farm any sooner because of the soft ground.

deltawave
Nov. 30, 2009, 05:56 PM
Random thoughts on my sacrifice paddock: (which I would NEVER want to do without!)

Mine is approximately 1/2 acre, and my 2-3 horses spend a large amount of their time in there. I only put them out on grass when the weather/footing is suitable, and sometimes that means not for weeks at a time.

It used to be a grass paddock, but within 3-4 months it was 100% dirt. Steady grazing and traffic are better than RoundUp. :)

It has a natural crown to it which means 90% of it drains just beautifully. Unfortunately, the other 10% is up close to the barn, so there is an area that gets pretty muddy there--I'm hauling in another 3 yards of pea gravel (tomorrow, in fact!) to keep improving that--little by little I'm winning that war. nb: usually you have to remove the layer of muck/organic stuff to have good success putting down gravel, but our soil--especially this paddock--is quite sandy and I pick up poop EVERY day so just putting the pea gravel down works very nicely for me. I just haven't bit the bullet and done the whole low area all at once, which I probably would if I had to do it again.

I pick this paddock up almost EVERY DAY, unless there is snow on the ground or it's driving rain. Really, really helps keep the sandy, good-draining soil from turning into muck. Also, it looks beautiful when it's all clean--I harrow it every couple of weeks and it looks like a riding ring. And sometimes it does double duty as one, too. :)

I'm fanatical about not letting loose hay get trampled into the ground or blown around. Makes a GIGANTIC mess. I have old tractor tires for feeders and this contains 90% of it but sometimes the horses fling some out and trample it. It gets picked up pronto, or it becomes a huge chore. (All my hay is fed outside, my horses have stalls with free access in/out but I only feed hay outside, saves on bedding/mess in the barn)

One paddock is connected to my sacrifice paddock and so if I'm turning them out for the day I only have to open the gate and leave it open--they can come in and out as they please, get under the shelter, use the waterer, etc.

My barn has a lean-to/extended roof, and I put used RR ties all around the perimeter of that, which over time has raised that little section up a little so no matter what it stays very dry. I throw some pelleted bedding in there a few times a year, and pick up the poops daily. It is a nice, clean place for them to stand and stay dry.

Unfortunately the prevailing winds here blow right into that lean-to area (less-than-ideal planning on my part, but OTOH if I pointed the barn the other way I wouldn't be able to see the horses from the house--a tradeoff) so they don't like to stand there when it's really windy. Fortunately there is a creek running along one edge of the paddock and a very thick stand of brush and vines that provides an excellent windbreak. Horses are smart--they find the best places to stand in no time. :)

Bottom line: high and dry and planned with the prevailing weather in mind are crucial. :yes:

fivehorses
Nov. 30, 2009, 06:43 PM
I am on a hillside and the water pours into my place.

Also, I am the lucky one to have clay soil...yuck. MB you are right, stone dust gets lost in clay!

I have scraped down and put in stone dust. I am fanactical about nothing organic(hay, manure) stays there, it gets picked up daily. Nonetheless, every other year, I add more stone dust.

I have an area now out back that is a mucky mess. I have been scraping it, but I think I am scraping to China.

I also have discovered 1 and a half inch round stone. Not crushed, but round. I am putting it on my paths from one pasture to the next. Since all my pastures have to go thru a wet spot to get to them. I read that natural barefoot shoers recommend this type and size of stone. So far,(two years) no problems.

I am particularly adverse to muddy conditions for horses or any animal for that matter. It can cause scratches, white line, etc. from there you get lymphangitis, cellultis and other systemic problems. Mud is not good nor is it healthy.

ayrabz
Nov. 30, 2009, 07:05 PM
Good thread...I've enjoyed reading it, since I've designated a sacrifice area, too...given the total limited acreage that we had. The spot I have is adjoining the 12x24 run in...and is about 60 x 100 .
For me, to read these 'sacrifice areas' that are half an acre, or a full arena size, I almost fell out of my chair! Mine will be used when our limited grass paddocks need the break, or are in wet weather...it will be where we hay, and give 1-2 horses turnout if we need them turned out but off the grass.
So, the 'best sacrifice' areas does need to be defined by how many horses, or how much acreage you have. (or both). :)

shawneeAcres
Nov. 30, 2009, 07:09 PM
Excuse my mid-Atlantic ignorance :winkgrin: What's the weather like where you are? Is it as wet from Nov-April like it is here?

I would love to just electric tape off a little area but I feel like it'd become a mud pit and the one horse has already abscessed twice this fall!

Yes it gets quite wet here. Already pretty muddy but mostly just around the gates, add to that it is FLAT and nothing drains here!