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How do you maintain your sacrifice lots?

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  • How do you maintain your sacrifice lots?

    We are about to install the geotextile fabric and gravel in our sacrifice lots. How do you remove manure and loose hay? We would not be able to pick it up by hand daily as there just aren't enough hours in the day. We have a skid steer but no tractor. I am thinking if we try to use the bucket on Skiddy (name of skid steer ) then we will scrape up too much gravel. Has anyone tried the snow plow attachment you can put on atv's to scrape off the mess? If so how effective is it?
    To ride a horse is to borrow freedom.

  • #2
    How I maintain: two 30x100 areas with run-ins; pick up the approximately 10 piles left every day, have grazer boxes and one nibble net keeps piles of loose hay off the ground.

    From the info you gave don't think I would actually use the bobcat or snow plow attachment as designed as you will probably scrape up too much of your gravel. Is your area/horse load, of the size that one time a week you can take the bobcat and bucket down and hand pick the area into the bucket and then take and dump it on your muck pile? We just recently divided our larger area into two seperate areas, even when we had 3 horses on the larger area a one time a week cleaning was sufficient, especially since they designated a specific corner as the bathroom area.
    "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

    "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"


    • #3
      I understand the not enough hrs in a day but even when I was working a 55-60 hr wk and taking complete care of the farm, house, barn, and riding 5 days/wk I still had the 15 minutes it took to pick up the 2 sacrifice paddocks 110' X 110' every day and the 5 minutes it took to rake up dropped hay about twice/wk.

      I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


      • #4
        No way should you use a plow/bucket to clean your sacrifice area. How big are you talking? How many horses? Where/how do you feed the hay? I have a 48 x 60 something sacrifice paddock for two horses (overhang off barn is included in that, and that is where hay is fed) and it takes maybe 15 minutes to clean the piles of poop up. To maintain your surface, you'll have to pick. I use a fork and wheelbarrow for the poop, and some hay. I often use a leaf rake to pull loose hay into piles if it is dragged or blown out into the paddock.

        If you scrape it, the gravel will be gone ASAP and you'll tear into your geo cloth. Seriously-- this requires good old fashioned hand work.
        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


        • #5
          Agree with others, when done regularly it really doesn't take *that* long. Unless you have overcrowding or lots of dropped hay, it should be a 15-20 minute daily chore.
          come what may

          Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


          • #6
            OP - how many horses are we talking about here? How much space? Weather? You mentioned a snow plow so I assume you will be expecting ice/snow.

            Unless you get the surface of your paddocks packed awfully hard, you're going to lose or at least rearrange your gravel in a bad way. What's your plan for scraping it anyway, scrape it to where? I'm not picturing how this is supposed to work. I pick up gravel and move my manure pile with my front end loader and I can't imagine trying to pick up small areas of a sacrifice paddock with it. You should see how bad I tear up the ground under my manure pile. Definitely not taking that tractor into my nice little sacrifice paddock! So you might want to rethink your time budget for picking the areas up by hand.

            I pick up mine while the boys are eating their ration balancer. If I get after it every single day it's not even 15 minutes (but I only have two... and about 100 x 70 to pick up) if the weather is nasty then I will wait, that makes it a little longer when I do get around to it. I just like to get to it every day so it doesn't get spread around which only makes it harder when I do get to it.


            • Original Poster

              Good morning all. Thank you for the suggestions and questions. We have three boys that will be housed on it. The gravel area is going to be about 55 by 75 as we can't afford to do the entire area this year. Hope to finish it all off next year, total area being about 200 by 200. We are doing this through the ag office and they are the ones that suggested scraping it with the bobcat. Good to know that is not recommended! I am hoping that the horses will go off of the pad to do thier business but only time will tell on that. We are in middle TN so suffer from very wet winters typically. I had the "what I thought of brilliant idea of the snow plow" as I invisioned dragging it would do less damage. Apparently not . So I guess we will go to picking up weekly. I don't see myself out there picking manure in the dark with a flashlight. I am not that dedicated! The horses will only be on it about 12 hours a day as I stable at night during the winter months. We feed round bales of hay for the big horses in a cinch hay bag (just started this in hopes of less waste on the gravel areas). The mini's have a slow feeder box and about the same amount of erosion control area.
              To ride a horse is to borrow freedom.


              • #8
                I don't like to contradict your experience, but are you sure it would really take you so long to hand-pick a 200x200 lot? I have 3 horses out on 5 acres 24/7 and I pick it up daily in about 35 minutes.

                You may find that the fly situation and general hygiene will deteriorate into yukkiness if you let such a small paddock go a whole week between cleanings. Also, you might want to consider that three horses will walk much of the accumulated manure into dust, which will become muddy organic matter when it rains, thus ruining your footing and throwing a wrench into all your mud-free plans.
                Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Crone of Cottonmouth County View Post
                  Also, you might want to consider that three horses will walk much of the accumulated manure into dust, which will become muddy organic matter when it rains, thus ruining your footing and throwing a wrench into all your mud-free plans.
                  THIS – Here in northern California we suffer from wet winters as well (I say suffer, because horses + rain + mud is NO FUN!)

                  I have had various different paddock set ups over the years, and have found the best way to manage through the winter is a good base of rock, and keeping the paddock CLEAN and free of organic matter – manure, hay, bedding – as it makes mud worse (traps and keeps moisture) and makes for an unhygienic situation.

                  Picking up piles – while they are still piles is much easier than trying to pick them up after they have been ground into the footing (not to mention the time the manure is staying in the horse’s feet). If you get a good rain, and that ground up muck mixes with the mud – well then it gets impossible to remove unless you are going to dig up the whole darn paddock.

                  I know there are just not enough hours in the day, I leave for work at 6:15 am in the dark, and head straight to the barn after work – arriving at 6:45 in the dark. But doing that daily picking avoids what would be a full day of back breaking work come the weekend.
                  APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                  • #10
                    I think you might have misunderstood the ag office's instructions. Often, to begin the process of creating a geotextile cloth/gravel sacrifice area, one scrapes the organics off (mud/manure/topsoil). Then the cloth is laid, and footing materials layered on.

                    With a paddock that small, you will need to clean daily. Seriously, it takes me 10 minutes TOPS to pick two BIG gelding's deposits each evening. Will they be stalled/off this area at all? I just think of paddock cleaning as my second "stall cleaning" of the day (my boys are out 6 am to 5pm in the winter, in stalls at night).

                    If you let the poop/hay build up, you will end with a mucky, nasty, stinking mess of decomposing organics on top of your expensive gravel. Ugh.
                    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                    • #11
                      I agree- in a wet area, picking the paddocks daily is necessary. Now if they decide to make one single pile in the far corner, that would be another story and you could probably leave it for a couple of days. We have a pony who goes in a single pile up on a dry spot and that can stay for 3-4 days. The rest of it needs to be cleaned every day or the gravel is ruined. Also pelleted bedding dust dragged out onto the gravel will ruin the drainage and needs to be cleaned up.


                      • #12
                        I went on a farm tour this spring at a place where the people had a gravel sacrifice area, maybe 100'x100' for 1 to 3 horses, that they used for turnout and only cleaned a few times each winter. Worked for them, wouldn't for me! My horses are not neat and clean and if we don't pick up the manure daily (actually, multiple times daily), they would pulverize it and we'd had muck not rock. But I think for this other place, the horses all had a bathroom corner away from the barn and that just piled up and wasn't ran through, etc., and they managed fine. So it might be that you discover it will work okay enough (and that might also depend on your standards ... ), or won't work at all.

                        Cleaning by flashlight really isn't that bad! We used to use a headlamp to do our evening clean as it gets dark pretty early. Now, I have some nice floodlights set up on the barn to light up the paddocks, and that makes it really easy!

                        If I'm understanding right, too, the OP might be doing only a part of the larger turnout area? If so, that might create issues as they will go back and forth off the rock and bring mud back with them. And the rock will get in their feet and go out to be lost in the mud. Or so has been my experience, but YMMV. We used to let our horses go freely between pasture and dry (gravel) area but don't anymore as I discovered pretty quick that they would drag so much between the areas. Now they get the pasture for however long, come in and get feet cleaned, then on dry area only (with stall). Limiting the muck is a full time job around here!


                        • #13
                          Please pardon my ignorance...what is a sacrifice area?

                          WooHoo...looked it up myself. And YES we have one!!!
                          Last edited by ezduzit; Dec. 5, 2012, 04:51 PM.
                          Ride like you mean it.


                          • #14
                            equislover, just so we're on the same page here... you mentioned a "pad". Is your sacrifice area going to be geotextile topped with gravel/screenings and that's IT? That's what I was assuming. If so, I stand by my first recommendation of hand-picking.

                            But saying "pad" made me wonder if you are putting a grid system in place. If that's the case, you might be dealing with another entire situation. I looked into some grid systems (and could only afford 2 stalls, not an entire sacrifice area!) but IIRC you could drive a tractor on them and scrape them off. Ahhh... to win PowerBall...

                            Crone - I just gotta say I'm impressed. Five acres by hand? Wow. I know it's "only" three horses but that's still a lot of trekking around with the wheelbarrow.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by oldpony66 View Post

                              Crone - I just gotta say I'm impressed. Five acres by hand? Wow. I know it's "only" three horses but that's still a lot of trekking around with the wheelbarrow.
                              No need to be impressed, there's no wheelbarrow. I cheat. I use a Gator. In conjunction with my tubtrug poop-purse and mini futurefork, it makes my mucking technique unstoppable!
                              Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


                              • #16
                                Ooh! I never thought of a tubtrug poop-purse!! Further proof of the Crone's genius. I admit that I clean my pastures with my tractor, Tito, and a well-bribed nephew or Mr. CC at the wheel. Meanwhile, I schlep about, fork in gloved hand, scooping giant piles of warmblood poo into the front loader.
                                Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                                • Original Poster

                                  Morning all. Thanks againf or the comments. The ag agent did specifically say occasionally scrape it off a couple times a year with a tractor or bobcat as maintenance. She did also say we would have to add gravel on an as needed basis. Not to say that this option is the best! It will be geotextile fabric with gravel on top. The grid system sounds wonderful, better buy my lottery ticket as well! So sounds like hand picking is the best. I also had not thought about the potential of the mixing with only a portion of the area being done. More to thing on. I am going to buy several lotto tickets now
                                  To ride a horse is to borrow freedom.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Calvincrowe View Post
                                    Ooh! I never thought of a tubtrug poop-purse!! Further proof of the Crone's genius. I admit that I clean my pastures with my tractor, Tito, and a well-bribed nephew or Mr. CC at the wheel. Meanwhile, I schlep about, fork in gloved hand, scooping giant piles of warmblood poo into the front loader.
                                    I grasp how your system works, but it requires a tractor chauffeur, correct? I have no such luxury, alas. The tubtrug purse is the key to the whole operation if you're doing it solo. The tubtrug I use is one size down from the traditional muck bucket size. It holds 5-6 piles, and is just about as heavy a thing as I care to hoist into a Gator-bed of a fine spring morn.

                                    You know, OP, just now when I was out scooping up poop I worked out the math: 3 horses emit just over half a ton of manure a week. In 6 months that's over 25,000 pounds. I hypothesize that with once-weekly picking, at least half of that will get pulverized into the footing. Such that in a year, even with weekly picking, you will have added over twelve tons of fecal matter to your paddock. Never mind the mud, what about the pathogens? Great Scott, the pathogens!
                                    Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


                                    • #19
                                      sacrifice paddocks

                                      OP, what my excavator guy did was scrap the top layer of clay/topsoil, put down #2 stone and stone dust on top. I have to add a small truckload of stone dust every year (spread around of course) because come winter the snow drifts build up and I use a tractor and snow blower to clear the area and blow a bit of stone dust as well. But I will say when the horses crap on the treated area with the stone dust, it's much easier to pick up than the dirt area further out simply because you have hoof prints that the manure sits in and it's much harder to pick than on the stone dust.

                                      I have the treated area about 30' out from the stalls and wish I could afford to do the entire paddock that way but between the cost and the fact I really like that some grass does come up for the horses is why I won't do any more. Now if the horses would just wear diapers we'd all have a lot less work!

                                      I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                                      • #20
                                        The "just replace gravel as needed" will be quite often if you use a machine to scrape anything off of it. Which is fine if you don't mind purchasing lots of gravel and re-packing it.

                                        My sacrifice area is about 65-70 x 110-120 or so. (not sure now since I haven't remeasured since I had the posts reset) 2 horses on it all day. (in stalls overnight.) I pick it by hand with a wheelbarrow daily. In winter so that I don't have petrified frozen shitcicles stuck to the ground. In the other months so I don't become a Fly Breeding Operation.

                                        Manure quickly turns to mud. The entire idea of making a sacrifice paddock is to avoid mud. I pick mine daily in 5-7 minutes total. That includes dumping the barrow in the manure pile. Once you make it part of your normal daily routine, it's not a big deal and takes no time. The funny part is the math. If I pick it for 5 minutes daily, it stays immaculate and adds up to 35 minutes per week. If I did it once per week...it'd take longer than 35 minutes. If you're home after dark and your sacrifice paddock is off of/next to your barn...add a flood light that turns itself on when it gets dark. If you don't want to shlepp a barrow to the manure pile nightly, park the skidster next to the paddock and just pick up the few daily piles and toss them in the bucket and dump the bucket whatever days it gets full. But do pick it daily or you'll most likely be throwing away the money and labor of making the paddock dry.

                                        Contain your hay...if you do roundbales then build a box it can be contained in and add a net over the top. Pretty easy to do, inexpensive and also looks a helluva lot nicer/neater. If you can;t lift the bales into a box, just add hinges to one wall so you can swing it open to roll a new bale in.
                                        You jump in the saddle,
                                        Hold onto the bridle!
                                        Jump in the line!