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Karma
Jan. 7, 2011, 11:37 PM
Anyone manage their horses on a wooded lot? Said lot would be 4ac. with mature oaks. Big, beautiful, tall, straight oaks with rolling/sloping ground, minimal underbrush. There may be one flat spot for a riding space. I would not be expecting pasture and would expect to feed hay year round. Ideas, thoughts, cautions...

WildBlue
Jan. 8, 2011, 08:30 AM
Make sure you're not fond of the trees before putting horses under them.
-Horses chew bark. Even with tens of acres of pasture and hay, they'll still chew bark and can kill your trees.
-Tromping around on the roots isn't terribly good for the trees, either, and can hasten their demise.
-Trees shed branches. Which can fall on horses, take down your fence, etc. Oaks also drop acorns. I'm not sure how many horses would have to eat to get a tummy ache, but it's another potential concern.
-I do know of a horse that lost an eye to a tree branch in the pasture. Freak accident, but there ya go.

HorseBabble
Jan. 8, 2011, 08:45 AM
Maybe ring the trees with a cage or fencing so the horses don't eat the bark? It wouldn't solve the acorn issue, but the trees would still be intact.

ddb
Jan. 8, 2011, 09:16 AM
My barn and dry lot paddock is among the trees. Used to be fully wooded and was thinned out for the barn. Love the shade in the summer and after the leaves fall sun hits the barn to help warm it. It's a small paddock and in the fall we remove leaves ( Oak, Tulip, Maple, birch and those awful sweet gum balls). This year wasn't bad - all the leave dropped at once. Last year seemed it took forever before we could stop blowing them:(. Don't have much issue with acorns - lots of squirrels, but some years there can be tons.

Horses will eat leaves and acorns when the grass starts to go dormant. Mine have hay 24/7 and still pick at them so the maintence is to prevent colic.

I'm good with the trees I have, but would not want the whole thing wooded. My pasture is surrounded by woods, but where the horse are is mostly open field.

tabula rashah
Jan. 8, 2011, 09:40 AM
I have 6 completely wooded acres- It can work but it's not ideal. The biggest problem besides the giant horse beavers is that if you live in a wet area you are going to have mud, lots of it- Without the grass to prevent some erosion or to soak up rain water- well it can be a giant mess. I have my space fenced into several areas to rotate. Also crusher run and stone dust are your friends. Be prepared as well to feed hay 365

deltawave
Jan. 8, 2011, 09:57 AM
Around here in farm country, "wooded lot" means "too wet to farm". :) If the water table is not very high and you're not in a low-lying area, I guess it could work. If you wanted to cear some and the oaks are nice and straight and mature, I'll bet you would have a few dollars coming from lumber folks.

I would love to have a few trees in our pastures, but there are trees OUTSIDE and that provides shade other than in the middle of the day, and no horses devouring them. Also no leaves to rake! :)

Xfactor
Jan. 8, 2011, 10:13 AM
I have a wooded lot that was once farmland, but was let go for decades. We've cleaned out a bunch of scrubby mess to restore the stone walled paddocks, but there are lots of trees that are still there and may well stay.

DEFINITELY save your trees by surrounding them with chicken wire or such. My non wood chewing horses found fresh trees too tempting to leave be.

Expect roots to start getting exposed after a while, and maybe be proactive, restoring soil periodically. The good news is, there will be no lack of that soil in other areas, as most likley you WILL have a mud problem in the wet months.

Also keeping your trees trimmed and safe is important..limbs can fall and be deadly to horses and fences.

I do love the shade in summer. Winter...eh...the mud is nasty.
With the size of my paddock, it's been a "one step" a season, reworking the footing to get it demudded long term, but keep the trees healthy.

I am used to feeding hay 365, so that is not an issue. Pasture is just not that common in this area. So if you can do that, again, it's not a big deal.

It is not optimal but certainly very doable, and in my area (Se Ma) there are many many "wooded lots" that we keep our horses on. We all just learn to adapt. =)

Foxyrab
Jan. 8, 2011, 10:20 AM
I'd be concerned about the acorns that the oak trees produce. I have to fence the oak trees off from the horses in the fall because one of them wants to gorge on the acorns.

katyb
Jan. 8, 2011, 10:57 AM
What do you use to attach the chicken wire to the trees? One of my horses is very systematically murdering the trees in my pasture - the nice ones, of course.

I have mostly open pasture, with a strip of woods inside the fence. My horses spend a lot of time in there. I don't care about those trees (mostly scrub pines), so of course they don't chew on them. I haven't worried about downed limbs or any of that. So far, it hasn't been an issue. My woods are the least muddy part of my property - but I'd say walk any property you are considering buying after a VERY heavy rain, so you know what you are getting into. We have a spring fed pond, which is wonderful, but that means we have lots of groundwater - wonderful in a dry spell, but it is dang mucky this year with all the rain.

MeghanDACVA
Jan. 8, 2011, 12:03 PM
And trees wreck havoc on turn out blankets, fly sheets, etc. When we lived in VA we had trees. Our big issue was the blanket damage. In OK trees are an endangered species but we do have some. The horses like them for shade, chew on some, snag blankets on some (not as bad as in VA).

I guess I have no strong opinion one way or 'tother on trees in general. My most favorite saying in the world is "There are no rights or wrongs, only consequences". So if the consequences, what ever they may be, are in your OK list, go for it. If they aren't, don't.

fivehorses
Jan. 8, 2011, 01:33 PM
Make sure you're not fond of the trees before putting horses under them.
-Horses chew bark. Even with tens of acres of pasture and hay, they'll still chew bark and can kill your trees.
-Tromping around on the roots isn't terribly good for the trees, either, and can hasten their demise.
-Trees shed branches. Which can fall on horses, take down your fence, etc. Oaks also drop acorns. I'm not sure how many horses would have to eat to get a tummy ache, but it's another potential concern.
-I do know of a horse that lost an eye to a tree branch in the pasture. Freak accident, but there ya go.

Ditto. I would mostly be concerned about the acorns...horses love them like candy. Too many is not good for them and will give them an upset stomach or worse.
Also, in 20 years I have lived here, I have supplied a family with wood to heat in NH winters from the trees my horses have girdled...meaning the horses ate all the bark around the tree, thus killing it. We let it stand for another year, and then its like having dry wood.
It was planned, but still demonstrates the horse's love for trees in winter.
Again, acorns would be my primary concern.
I don't like oaks or red maples in my pastures.

Karma
Jan. 9, 2011, 08:41 PM
Thanks for all the replies. Do chickens also like acorns? I wouldn't be too worried about blanket damage and would certainly choose to protect the trees, cross fence the fields and great a sacrifice area. Guess I will do some more reading on the small acreage threads...

Xfactor
Jan. 11, 2011, 04:07 PM
KatyB...we use a heavy grade wire, not the flimsy stuff. Wrap it around the tree.(we do a couple tiers so they can't reach above it) zip tie the sides and tiers together, and then snip off any sharp ends or such that could poke them...because it WILL poke them if you don't really secure it well and clip off any pokey bits.

It's totally saved the trees. The ones we didn't get to...GONE.
And this from my non wood chewing horses that have unlimited hay.

MistyBlue
Jan. 11, 2011, 04:26 PM
I love turnout in light woods...lovely in hot weather and nice to have year round.

However one of the trees I wouldn't tolerate having tons of in a paddock: oaks.

Some horses will have a few acorns which is fine. Some horses ignore the acorns, also fine. And some horses suck them down like it's their job and that is not good.

Oaks are known to lose leaves in cycles...some in fall, some right on top of the snow in winter and the rest when the new leaves pop out. Year round mess.

Plus any trees that grow nuts drop tree-sized branches. Big heavy damage causing branches. After windy days, ice build up, heavy snow or storms...a mess and dangerous. The rest of the time they drop tons of smaller branches, just a mess.

To keep them alive you end up with a paddock full of wire cages. No the prettiest look.

Having one or two oaks in a big open pasture is one thing...having a smaller paddock loaded with them would be annoying as heck.

However the good news is: Straight mature oaks are a goldmine of cash standing out there. :winkgrin: They're worth quite a bit...the straighter they are and the higher the branches start, the more they're worth. People pay landowners to come cut them down for you.

katarine
Jan. 11, 2011, 05:08 PM
I have about 5 acres or so in pasture with four horses on it about 9 months out of the year... and only one or two water oaks. The horses don't go coocoo for cocoa puffs over them, so that's good. But they are tough on trees. I'm ok with that, they can kill whatever they manage to out there. My favorites, like the hickory and shag barks, they don't touch.

Given you are talking about seriously NICE money trees, I'd look into having all but one or two taken out and sold. You'll pay a bit to get the stumps out but I'd sure check it out.

suz
Jan. 12, 2011, 12:06 PM
it partly depends upon how many horses you'll have on the four acres.
more than two may be a problem, but other than that i sort of prefer woods to lush pasture.
too many horses may eat the trees, but if they have plenty of hay to occupy them they'll be less interested in them.
i have had up to five horses, four goats and six pigs on around fifteen acres of heavily wooded steep mountain side (mostly maples, ash, beech and less oak) and the only real damage i've ever seen was the wild raspberries were decimated by the goats.
hth!

dmalbone
Jan. 12, 2011, 03:27 PM
I love my sparse land now. I would buy a wooded lot only to the extent that it was wooded around the perimeter and had clear pasture land. My horses have always been on cleared land and were fine. I got a cute small property with some spruces and one measly little oak tree. First fall my yearling pony colicked after munching on oak leaves and/or acorns. Needless to say we chopped it down and I don't miss it at all now!