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Illinois Livestock Trail by UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION


Horses
Illinois Livestock Trail

Horses > Facilities & Housing

QUESTION
I would like to know if there is a minimum space requirement for horses that have regular exercise. What is the maximum number of horses per acer if you ARE NOT pasturing and feeding hay year round?


ANSWER

In a stalled situation the minimum size requirement is a 10' X 10' stall with a 12' X 12' more ideal. There are no set recommendations for the number of horses in a dry lot situation. There are several factors that should be taken into consideration, however.

The age of the horses and demeanor of the horses should be evaluated. If there are several aggressive horses that routinely fight more space would be recommended so that each horse can have more personal space. If the herd consists of young horses more space is desired so that they can have enough room to burn off excess energy by romping and playing without being injured by being in a tightly confined space. If there are some really timid horses in the group they will need space to get away from the rest of the herd and stay out of trouble.

Fencing is also an important factor when thinking about confining a significant number of horses in a small area. The fencing should be very sturdy with strong corner posts and very easy for the horses to see. Electric fence is not recommended as an aggressive horse may chase a young or timid horse through the fence if that horse doesn't have enough space to get away from the aggressive horse. Furthermore, aggressive horses may trap other horses in a corner and injury them by kicking or biting. Therefore, in small spaces it is recommended that all corners are eliminated to prevent horses from being cornered by other members of the herd.

Another important consideration is the number of feeders and waterers in this confined space. Aggressive horses may constantly run other horses off from the feeders and the waterers so it is necessary to assess the feeding situation and have enough feeding and watering locations so that all horses will have access to hay and water. Placement of waterers and feeders needs to be done with some forethought so that these structures are not put in locations that may lead to injury.

Lastly, the shelter needs should be evaluated. There should be enough shelter space for all horses to utilize simultaneously. Additionally, the opening of the shelter should be wide enough to allow all horses to leave the structure together in case the group is startled and bolts from the shelter en mass. Often times several smaller shelters are more ideal that one large shelter.

Some groups of horses get along very well and can exist in close quarters successfully. However, other groups of horses have a lot more infighting and as a result need more space in which to coexist safely.







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