So I finally have a good amt of paddocks (I think) but I don't know how to rotate them as far as how many days to use one before giving it a rest. There are 5 total, a good size for 2 horses, I can't recall at the moment but they're approx. 150x150 each. All have good grass again. Only 2 have shelters so if storms are coming I'm forced to use those. There are 4 horses total; 2 yearlings and 2 adults and they're out about 12-14 hrs per day in 2 groups of 2. In winter the non-shelter fields are left alone and are aerated and seeded each spring before use.
If you were me, how would you rotate these?
And, is my off for the winter, seed in the spring plan a logical one?
I'm not going to try to do the math cause it will make my head hurt, but 150x150 for two horses isn't huge by our area standards. Will they get hay in the paddock too? Off the top of my head I'd probably rotate every 4-5 days. Longer if I throw a few flakes of hay and they like it (if I threw hay to my guys right now, it wouldn't get touched). If you give each paddock a two week rest (one will get only a week or so though in a schedule, so make that the biggest one), you should do okay until the grass really stops growing.
We do the same thing with our "summer pastures," rest in winter, spread manure, seed in the spring. It works out nicely if you get enough rain in the spring.
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
Those are pretty small, so make sure you're on top of the manure management. You'll want to harrow (right before a rain is the best time) if you don't pick out every day or two.
A good worming program is necessary since you'll be rotating the horses.
The horses have been out on them since April and they haven't become bare at all. We don't have a drop of shade and are on top of a hill so the grass actually grows quite rampant (although I wish the lawn grass wouldn't :-P). The ph level is perfect as a hay farmer used to harvest the land so he did all the necessary fixes and we get really nutritious grass. The horses get 2-3 flakes per horse, per field to munch on and they eat most of it.
I've been giving the fields a week off when I rotate because I thought after 2 weeks they might get really bare but I think I'll try 2 off. There is plenty of hay to go around if they get bare so I have no problem with trial and error.
I always hand picked with a fork and have never heard to use the harrow. That doesn't drag up the grass?
The rule of thumb is not to let the horses graze the grass down below 2-3 inches so move them before it gets to that point. This may require the use of a sacrifice area or dry lot in order to get them off the grass completely if none of your paddocks are ready for grazing again. Otherwise the horses are eating down into the energy storage area of the grass and that hurts its ability to generate new growth. If you allow them to do that often enough, the grass gives up and dies. So you're better off to judge on the condition of the paddocks (based on rainfall, etc) versus using a set rotation schedule.
"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower
The two fields with the shelters were sacrifice areas (and the only ones til the spring) and man did they get beat up. Once we gave them a break when we got new fields the grass actually popped up beautifully with all the rain we had. I have a small arena harrow (4x8) that I'll use next time it's supposed to rain.
I've heard Penn state has great seminars on pasture mgmt. Anyone ever been?
Once I get more money I have room for about 2-3 more acres of pasture. I'll only ever have a max of 6 horses, what would be your ideal pasture size/amt? I don't want to make them too big and have too many patches that they won't eat. Or should I just break down and get a goat to eat the stuff the horses won't?