Feed Alternatives - Hay, Pasture, Fodder Solutions?
We are buying approximately 10 acres in No. Cal with a small "fixer upper" on it which will be suitable for housing a caretaker. We plan to develop this property as a private dressage training facility for a minimum of 5, maximum of 10 horses.
The cost of hay purchased from our local retailer is currently fluctuating around $20/3-wire bale. In the past, we have not had enough acreage/horse to provide both 24/7 turnout AND sustainable pasture. With the purchase of this additional acreage, we hope to continue with 24/7 turnout for some of the horses, and reduce our overall feed costs. For example, what if instead of continuing to purchase baled hay from our local retail supplier, we:
- built a larger hay storage facility and bought hay direct from the wholesaler (presumably at lower cost); or
- cross fenced, irrigated, planted and managed pasture to feed some of the horses, supplemented with baled hay from the local supplier, as needed for the additional horses;
- implemented the "Fodder Solutions" system using sprouted barley to supply the nutritional component and non-irrigated pasture and/or less expensive baled hay to provide the roughage component for feeding all the horses.
Obviously each of these alternatives has a different up front capital cost and associated long term operating costs. We would like to determine which alternative is most cost effective over a 10-15 year life cycle. We will assume 2 acres of pasture will support 1 horse without supplemental feeding. Anyone have any experience that might help us begin to fill in the other blanks? The type of information we are looking for includes:
- which wholesalers supply good quality grass (various types), or alfalfa/grass hay to the Sacramento area;
- cost/bale for purchase and delivery from wholesaler/grower to Sacramento area;
- cost/sq ft for construction of hay storage facilities,
- cost/linear foot for cross fencing,
- cost/acre for automated sprinkler irrigation system (assuming main lines to pasture boundary, pumps, filters, etc are already in place);
- equipment needed, and cost of equipment to properly manage irrigated pasture (seed, fertilize, mow, etc.);
- cost/acre/year for materials (not including water) to maintain irrigated pasture (seed, fertilizer, lime, etc.);
Need help here, please