Feeling the pinch? Top Tips for Cost-Effective Horsekeeping - Part 2
Second instalment in this multi-part series... Horse ownership requires a significant investment of time, effort, and money. Managing a horse on a limited budget is challenging. Fortunately, there are numerous frugal horse care tips that will allow you to save money without sacrificing quality care for a healthy, content horse. Here's some to help you get started…
Maintain a clean and orderly yard and horse property. Mucking stalls and paddocks on a regular basis decreases your horse's exposure to parasites in the manure. To reduce the risk of harm, barn tools and implements should always be stowed out of the way, and barn aisles should be kept clean and clutter-free. A well-kept property with flammable things kept separate from heat and fire sources decreases your chance of fire loss.
Improve your pasture. A good pasture management plan will assist you in making the most of this valuable forage source by increasing pasture productivity and grass quality. Your pasture management plan may include mowing, harrowing, seeding, irrigation, fertilizing, and weed control, depending on your specific needs. Any pasture will benefit from a rotational grazing program to avoid overgrazing and a sacrifice area for turnout in wet weather.
Install electric wire or tape that is safe for horses around your paddock. Wiring can safeguard your fencing and reduce the frequency of repairs and replacements.
Repairs should not be put off (even small ones). Small repairs on a horse property can quickly escalate into large repairs and major expenses if left unattended. Maintain a list of repairs you've noticed and attend to them at least once a week. Fill in potholes in the paddock, replace broken fence boards, and re-hang difficult-to-open and close gates and doors. Carry a hammer and wire-cutters with you when walking the yard and bang in or remove loose wires and nails to reduce the likelihood of torn horse blankets and horse injuries, saving you a lot of money for little effort.
Rent out your space. Help cover costs by leasing out unused areas of your facility or accepting boarders if you have extra stalls. If you have an arena consider renting it to nearby equestrians by the hour or by the day. Remember that you may require additional liability insurance for these activities, so make sure the numbers add up to a benefit.
To reduce water waste, attach adjustable nozzles to yard hoses. Spray nozzles are especially useful in the wash stall for saving water while bathing horses. To avoid unnecessary water loss, inspect all water fixtures for leaks on a regular basis.
Use stale drinking water. Instead of dumping stale drinking water on the ground, use it to water plants and flowers.
Set up a rainwater collection system. Rainwater collected in rain barrels by a downspout can be used to water the garden, perform various chores around the yard, and, in the case of a fiberglass or metal roof, to water horses (NOTE: run-off from composite or shingle roofs should not be used as drinking water for animals). Larger amounts of rainwater can be collected in a cistern and used to irrigate pastures, water the arena, or water the compost.
Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient ones. LED light bulbs use up to 85% less electricity than traditional light bulbs, with 95% of that energy converted to light and only 5% wasted as heat. Not only does energy efficiency save you money on your bills, but it also reduces your environmental impact.
Turn off lights and small appliances when not in use, and install motion sensors and/or timers on outdoor lighting.
Try turning on only half of the arena lights when riding at night unless you are doing something that requires maximum visibility, such as jumping.
Purchase stall mats. They may be costly to install, but they will pay for themselves in savings by reducing the amount of bedding used. Other advantages include much easier stall cleaning for you and a cushioned surface for your horse's comfort and joint health.
Bulk is preferable. Bedding, like hay and feed, is usually less expensive when purchased in bulk. Only buy bedding in quantities that you can keep properly, as inappropriate storage will result in destroyed bedding and money lost.
Increase the amount of time your horses are out in the pasture. Turnout is essential for your horse's physical and mental well-being, but it also reduces the amount of bedding that is soiled.
Put it in a bag and give it away. If the manure is pre-bagged, you'll probably find more people willing to take it. The quickest and easiest way to package your horse's manure is to muck directly into empty feed bags.
Inquire with local farmers and garden centres about using your manure heap. In many cases, they may be able to collect the goods directly from the pile, but keep in mind that older manure that has had time to decompose will likely find more takers.
Sell your compost. Building and maintaining a successful manure composting system can be a simple and straightforward way of turning your mountain of manure into black gold that you can sell or save for yourself.
It should be applied to your fields. Horse manure contains nutrients that can improve soil conditions and promote plant growth, making it an excellent alternative to expensive fertilizers. If you spread it on horse pasture, make sure to compost it first to get rid of any parasites. (Horse manure typically takes three to six months to decompose into compost.
To be continued...
Part One if you missed it can be found here.