You’ve got yourself some new horses, yet still haven’t figured out how many acres of pasture need enlarging? You’re in the hunt for a new place that accepts the total headcount representing your family member and your team of horses?
Then welcome to our latest guidelines on how many horses per acre are the norms in conformity with your targeted community zoning codes across the nation. Let’s gallop on, shall we?
Table of Contents
Determinants of The Maximum Number of Horses Per Acre
The number of horses eligible to graze a plot of land is called the stocking rate. Optimum stocking rate is subject to various parameters, including how many acres required to sustain a horse, the owner’s financial competency, and at what density of horses your neighbors would grant consent to.
To determine a horse’s bare necessities, we need to take everything from his nutrient intakes to the owner’s management approaches into consideration. The amount and maintenance of pasture to sufficiently feed your horse is a starking example.
Other external factors such as breed, soil fertilization, weather patterns, your horse’s grazing behavior, irrigation, and drainage system are vital as well.
Another thing that must be taken into account is the equestrian’s financial capacity. Undoubtedly, not every ordinary salary man can lavish over $100,000 upon one raw acre of land for just one horse after a $600,000 – $800,000 deposition on their mansion, let alone 5-10 acres.
That’s why instead of leaving your buddies wandering around the barn, investing $500 per month for a stable to board them is way more economical, isn’t it?
The last factor under concern, probably the most critical one, is involved with community ratification.
First of all, if you want to endorse any horse, you should conform to your township’s zoning ordinances. Over many communities, existing regulations have stipulated a maximum number of horses per acre.
The figures can be contingent on a host of factors, from residence density, local development projects, urban sprawl rate, public/private facilities, public health specifications, neighbor’s complaining records, references to other townships, to traditions and customs.
Normally, if you want to house livestock, you’d have to come up with a manure management plan and get your paperwork in line at your county’s Department of Environmental Protection as well as the zoning office. Then, just wait for their approval in despair.
Once granted the permission, the zoning board would never randomly knock at your door to check how many horses per acre you’re raising, unless it gets on your neighbors’ nerves.
They may file complaints about stinky manure or muddy vicinity. Even if they’re not the ones who are grieving, a meter reader, postal carrier, or express deliverer may butt in to report a violation.
But if you have already been grandfathered your current team of horses or plot of land before your neighbors moving in, then your place is now “non-conforming use” and you can breed as many horses as you like, literally, unless you subdivide the land.
How Many Horses Per Acre Are The Norms?
The horse-per-acre requirements vary township by township.
In East Fallowfield, Northern Chester and Placer County, or at least by Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation’s advice, the range varies from one-two acres for the first horse and a half of that number for any additional one in general.
In Glendale, CA, near countless film studios, it’s casual to have two horses each a quarter acres, while the property lines triple that for the same two horses in Sacramento.
Nowadays, horse-friendly zoning jurisdictions are increasingly rising in popularity, of which the most prominent aim is to introduce tiered ordinances for the sake of livestock welfare, waste abatement, and water source maintenance. Some of the zones are so amicable to horses that there’s no limitation or whatsoever, like in El Dorado County.
This means horse density requirements do not only make flat horse-per-acre calculation based on the number of horses or the maximum scale of properties alone, for instance, only 40 horses can be groomed on 20 acres.
Rather, in consideration of neighboring dwelling units, property lines, manure storage techniques and setback standards to distance the horses from streams and ponds or crops and orchards, a new formula was born.
Specifically, equestrians should expect a 25-200-feet restricted zone from any creek or water source near or on your land before concluding how wide it is. Afterward came the tiers.
Take San Diego to illustrate, by applying ten horses per acre code for 50 horse/ 5 acres, 100 horses/ 5-10 acres or over 100 horses/ over 10 acres in uniformity, now it becomes flexible enough for both domestic horse owners and commercial horse ranches to co-exist within one county.
Likewise, by another criterion, if pasture recovering time tops your priority, then fewer horses should be allowed to graze on your parcel. Maybe three acres per horse and one acre more for each additional head should be appropriate calibration for the grass to be able to relax twice a year, six weeks each time.
Precipitation level, the one factor that plays a pivotal role in nourishing the grass, also contributes to determining how many horses per acre you should have.
In demonstration, let’s go to Big Bend county in Texas, where there is a 60-inch rainfall per year. The grass and mud are abundant, thus community code here would be “one cow, one calf, one acre” or one horse per acre.
The sceneries above account for where pasture acts as the sole source of food. When you have hay and grain supplements, less than one acre per horse is perfect, enough space for the horses to run around and breathe fresh air.
The rainfall, the drainage and irrigation system, all problems related to water and grass aside, if you have a restless horse breed, then even 20 acres wouldn’t be enough for 10 horses to run.
If there is a ceiling within the zoning laws, then there’ll always be an underground tunnel for you to escape. In Honeybrook, you have to possess a 10-acre lot before thinking of housing a horse. Yet, it counts as an exception if horses are your chief means of transportation or if you belong to the Amish community.
Oddly, some townships do not have any written legislation about maximum horses per acre ratio, but exert a limit on the number of stalls within a barn in lieu of it. If you’re in a “conservation zone”, you could only assemble three stalls, but could domesticate as many horses as you like.
If the setup, including the number of stalls and the soil, is your biggest concern, then once you’ve managed to rotate between how long to let the horses out and how long to confine them logically and efficiently, that three horses on a three-acre farmette deems plausible.
Why Are There Horse-Per-Acre Ordinances?
For Public Welfare
Even with commercial ranches or private barns, if there’s an invisible hand on how many horses per acre are allowed, then manure odor, horse waste, dust, noise, traffic circulation, viewsheds, and neighbor’s well-being would all turn into a hassle.
Especially, to facilitate the thriving of urban sprawl and residential invasion, local authorities are delegated the power to adjust their area’s horse zoning ordinances at their disposal.
For justification, deep horse occupied regions such as Placerville or Georgetown will do just fine without any restraint on each equestrian’s horse number.
Community codes like these horse density requirements are meant to sustain both human and the horses’ welfare, yet they may produce some dire cut on profits for commercial ranches.
This stems from the fact that in order to follow the zoning laws, horse boarding ranches and activity centers must be restricted from downtown and cities.
One horse per acre would eventually stretch the limit of your grass field, let alone two or three horses. No matter how well you could manage your pasture, once a wet winter passes by, all you’ve been left behind is a muddy mess.
To make the matter worse, degraded pasture would need a long course of time for recovery and this desperate haul takes place twice a year, so if you allow too many horses to board on your barn, the natural grass would run out and cost you a fortune for other supplements in the end.
Lack Of Administration Competency At Locality
Overcrowded counties with poor animal husbandry practices are the most unforgivable out of all issues. Irresponsible local authorities that neglect the detriments of excessive horses would cause several disasters as follows:
- Exhausted greenery from overgrazing on large parcels of grass.
- Horse escaping hazards that destroy crops, orchards, or neighbor’s houses.
- Disrupted local trophic level and ecosystem.
- Methane over-generation which leads to global warming.
- Spread of infectious diseases.
- Prohibitive maintenance cost.
Any society that lacks zoning ordinances would be involved in a state of social and financial chaos ultimately. It’s irrefutable that there are horse-friendly zones with no restrain on the number of domesticated horses or vicinity setbacks.
Yet, in general, for the sake of a peaceful neighborhood, your horse welfare, your finance, an evergreen ecosystem, and increasing urban sprawl, horse density requirements are still in effect in most places. And based on these criteria, you should be able to estimate how many horses per acre you can raise on your stables.
Always keep the local zoning offices’ notice bulletin board in check and do not buy on any hocus pocus from real estate brokers in the event that you’re looking for a place to live with your horses. If there’s anything unclear or any different zoning law adoption in your area, let us know down the comment section below!