View Full Version : Spinoff: Making a horse farm cost effective?

Jan. 30, 2010, 07:09 AM
My mind is still a bit blown from the descriptions of the EQUIP program talking about in the improving pastures topic.

I'm still very much in the looking and planning stage of horse farm owning, but i'm wondering what other great things are out there to help a horse farm keep costs down?

I was browsing wind and solar energy information, and saw that the federal government will give you 35% off the costs of installing a wind turbine, solar water heater or solar panels. It also looked like the state will piggyback that with another 30% off. So more than half off in total. I'm sure these things are super expensive to install. I wonder how many years it would take to make those costs back by not having an electricity bill?

Does anyone know of any other nifty government programs, alternate energy sources or other interesting ways to keep costs down? I'm trying to think outside the box on this yucky day. :winkgrin:

Jan. 30, 2010, 08:12 AM
It totally depends where you live.

My state has a program depending how close you are to the Chesapeake Bay to cover up to 95% of cost to control divert dirty run off water. They design swales and put in dry wells. Pay for new heavy duty gutters and fence and gate off areas. BUT you have to pay upfront then submit to get back and have to use their plans.

They will pay cost/share for pasture management as well but again not always designed w/ horses in mind. Like taking a 5 acre field splitting it into 3 sections, single fenced row and rotating the paddocks for optimum grazing...like cow pastures. So tell my horses they can't gallope around the wide open fields but have to graze nicely like cows in these long narrow paddocks???

They will cost share for pasture seeding but the recommendations were for a Fescue and I like my mix w/ blue grass n clover and well some weeds.Plus you need to do a total kill turn under and re-pant stay off 1 year then mow or bale before using pasture again.

I can get energy $$ back when installing new hot water heater for barn...But you need to check the fine print. They will give 40% back but you have to spend alot of $$$ to get that back. More $$ than a decent sized hot water heater was going to cost. I would have to spend 3X as much to get 40% back.

They will also pay for a manure pit but the one they designed is almost not workable for where mine has to go and are not open to what I need/will work. Plus I have to come up w/ the $25K it will cost.
Trying to be cost effective doesn't always work because you have to go w/ with what their plans specify.

We looked into the energy deals being offered, but the cost to install was well enormous, just huge $$$.

Being that green means you are either uber wealthy or have smaller needs. Unlike Bill Begly I'm not willing to ride a bike to generate elec to make toast:)

Jan. 30, 2010, 09:07 AM
We had a solar light system put in our barn for around 1k. Now the barn is not lit up like a Christmas tree but I have a light in my tack/feed room, a light by the exterior people door, a light in my hayloft and two lights in the aisle. We refit an old cattle feed barn (30'x36') and it is my personal barn so I can make do with less then a boarding facility could, but it works for me and was not terribly expensive especially considering we had no electricity when we bought it.

We also used the a type of light bulb that produces 45 watts but only uses 4, and then for the tackroom a bulb that produces 60 watts but uses 7.

Jan. 30, 2010, 09:21 AM
A hint for making it cost effective... don't forget that your TIME is worth money as well. I think that's one thing people don't take into consideration sometimes. The #1 requirement for my barn was dutch doors straight out to the pastures. You would be amazed at how much time that really saves, especially on those days where you just really need to be somewhere else. Plus, I really like them for the safety aspect. We have a small barn (and horses aren't there yet), but I noticed from working in there that with the 4 dutch door tops open along with the sliding door, ridge vents, and 4 clear plastic light panels on the top there is a TON of light. I don't have to turn the lights on until the sun is well on its way to setting. That saves electricity also. There is basically light coming in from all 4 sides of the building and the top.

Tamara in TN
Jan. 30, 2010, 09:30 AM
[QUOTE=Ihatefrogs;4650882] I wonder how many years it would take to make those costs back by not having an electricity bill?

for us it was more than 15 years...we passed;)

Tamara in TN

Jan. 30, 2010, 09:39 AM
Wind turbines require that you have the right kind of sustained winds at the height the turbine will turn to be efficient.
One large enough to run a small household is about $10,000 and has an expected payoff in 10 years, after that is supposed to be all savings, if you don't have any repairs to pay for.
Those turbines are very simple technology, rarely need repairs and have a life expectancy of 25 years.

When you add the government payment to help put one up, you are ahead that much sooner, maybe in 7 or so years.

You do have to expect to stay there some over those 7-10 years and not have any repairs, before you can be ahead with one of those.

There are many individuals here doing just that, putting one of those small turbines up and selling any excess electricity to the electric company and so lowering their electric bills considerably.
You do have that initial big investment and not all want/can spend that.

My five year old all electric house is using 1/3 of the electricity the smaller, older one, also all electric used, averaging $70 a month, the old one was over $200.:eek:
I see the same difference reflected in other people's houses around here.:yes:

I think the most important is to build or remodel smart, so you have a very efficient farm all around.

Jan. 30, 2010, 09:43 AM
Just an example: we did a geothermal heating system in the house, and figure it will take 5-8 years to recoup the initial investment (in the range of $15-20K) with the savings on heating fuel, etc. And we got a modest tax credit for the first year (I think $500 or so) but no other government "subsidy", although this was a home on a farm, not a "farm farm" per se. We're not a business, but a hobby. :)

Jan. 30, 2010, 02:50 PM
My husband looked into solar panels for the house, as we have the perfect roof for it, southern facing, about 200 ft long. Cost was 50K, with the rebates, would have been about 30k out of our pocket. Estimated savings was 25% of our electric bill which can run 500 a month (got to love FL A/C and pool filters, and in-laws with internal thermostat issues). So, in doing the math. . . not worth it for us.

If they ever get the technology to a more reasonable price, I will be all over it.

Sparky Boy
Jan. 30, 2010, 03:52 PM
My County in MD will give you a $5,000 credit on your property taxes for installing Geothermal. I've seen geothermal systems in this area for around $18-20K.
You can also get local tax credits for Solar but I don't recall the amount.

Lazy Palomino Hunter
Jan. 30, 2010, 04:00 PM
It totally depends where you live.

My state has a program depending how close you are to the Chesapeake Bay to cover up to 95% of cost to control divert dirty run off water. They design swales and put in dry wells. Pay for new heavy duty gutters and fence and gate off areas. BUT you have to pay upfront then submit to get back and have to use their plans.

I rode for a number of years at a barn in Maryland that had gotten cement walkways installed by the state under this program. It was actually really nice- there was a big cement pad behind the barn, and walkways about 13' wide going to all the paddocks (with gravel for a few additional feet on each side). Each field had a cement pad (maybe 15'x15'?) inside the gate.

The cement was textured and had great drainage, so it was never slippery. I loved that we never really had ANY mud to speak of- at most farms, the paths out to fields and the areas right inside gates can get SO gross/muddy/slippery when it's rainy out.

If I ever own a horse farm, I am positive I will invest in something similar. It's not exactly a cost issue, but a mud-control and aesthetic issue. Which in some ways IMO is just as important.

Mary in Area 1
Jan. 31, 2010, 11:03 PM
The best way to make a horse farm cost-effective is to not own any of the horses yourself!

Feb. 3, 2010, 02:09 PM
How do you make a small fortune in the horse business?

Start with a large fortune.

Feb. 3, 2010, 02:34 PM
In some states the electric companies are not required to buy excess energy from individuals with turbines (and they don't). :(

Feb. 3, 2010, 05:15 PM
You should also check with your local US Ag Dept. guys. There are subsidies on things like cross fencing.

DH develops retirement communities and has found that the geothermal pays off better when he installs them in areas with weather extremes. Either really cold or really hot. We looked into it for our house now under construction (in middle TN) and didn't think the pay out was practical. I'm happy to be green when it makes sense financially, but don't get enough warm fuzzies out of it to justify it when it's not...