I have a 4-horse barn with all stalls opening to 2 sacrifice paddocks. Two stalls each open to a paddock with a gate between the paddocks so the horses can be together or separated as needed. My sacrifice paddocks are approximately 110' X 110' and slope down so water runs away from the barn. I wanted an area that the horses could trot and canter around but not get up too much steam at a gallop. Each sacrifice paddock opens to a larger pasture for grazing from spring to fall. By opening and closing gates I can rotate pastures easily.
I knew I wanted 2 separate paddocks so that when I needed to introduce a new horse, he could be kept separate for a wk or so till he got to know the crew and vice versa.
Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you!
I think size is less important than location, runoff, and the footing.
In my state they have gotten much more serious about water quality as related to manure and sacrifice areas. It would behoove you to know what your regulations are - in my state, turnout areas are either pasture (3" of turf minimum) or animal concentration areas. Pastures have regulations that help ensure manure is properly absorbed into the turf and kept clear of waterways.
For us, paddocks / sacrifice areas do not hold turf and are considered ACA's. ACA's require regular removal of the manure, that the rainwater that falls on them cannot just dump into a ditch to join the waterways, must be located distant from wells and other penetrations into the aquifer, and rainwater cannot run onto/across an ACA. Even if it's not law, these best practices appear pretty consistently around the country.
There is more but if you're still with me you're way ahead of most existing horse farm owners. I see plenty of horse farms that make egregious errors in relation to these common-sense practices.
We're using stonedust footing and if grass grows so be it. We keep it mowed when it grows high enough for that. The stone dust with slope or crowning is important to avoid ice and puddles in winter and spring. Make sure you can get a big machine in each paddock to facilitate maintenance and manure removal, and don't forget to leave turning room for the machine. Have a preliminary plan for how additional services (electricity, water, run-ins, feeders) could be added later so that you don't make those things unnecessarily difficult later.
Paddocks don't need rotation like pasture do so you can reckon the number of them pretty accurately.
It is 34' wide by 80' long. Currently 3 strands of horse guard bi-polar. My metal gate is 14' and I plan to eventually replace the tape gate on the pasture side with another 14' gate. I like big gates. I have a big, young mare, a regular donkey and a mini donkey there. If I added another horse I may want to go ten feet wider and divide it into two lots...not sure. I wouldn't go narrower with 3 animals. The mare makes faces at the regular donkey, and he has plenty of room to get out of her way. If you click on the blackacre blog the current post has a picture of it after a week of rain--second big picture down.
I mowed the area super short and turned the mare and mini out on it. Then the next day we got 9" of rain and that took care of the grass for me. It is basically dirt. The natural grade is three tiers, which I didn't even notice until they ate it down to dirt, with a lower area past it, so water has lots of area to go to.
My driveway and the gravel road washed out this spring and I'm going to rent a skid to pull all that gravel out of my other field and my ditch and build up the pad for my run in. Whatever is left over will go on the bottom tier of the dry lot. That is the only area where they really can punch deep holes in the mud after weeks of rain.
Having the great drainage is AWESOME. No mud pit by the metal gate, even with just dirt.
I did screw up and they put my electric on what was supposed to be a gate post to an adjoining future pasture. I didn't understand the size of the box and had only put in a 4x4" post and he wanted an 8x8". I had angled that post a tiny bit on purpose for holding the gate, and then they didn't back fill properly and when we got the huge rain it created a sink hole the post tipped even more towards the electric line that wasn't properly compacted, and now every time I see my big electric box on a gigantic, crooked post it drives me a little insane. I have to set my whole next pasture line back 4' to give them the clearance they require, so they won't match up either. We even met before they came or I put in the fencing--just didn't communicate well enough.
Last edited by TrotTrotPumpkn; Aug. 14, 2014 at 01:28 PM.
Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
Mine is 60 x 80ish, geotextile cloth on the base, sloped away from the barn and overhang, with screenings sized gravel 6" deep as a footing material. Gates open up to pasture. Manure/organically are removed daily. Houses a pair of geldings, who are stalled at night.
Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!