So the mud management webinar suggested cutting my paddocks into small 1 acre single and double turnout paddocks with gravel footing to use as sacrificial areas...... not sure if I actually like this idea. It means that many of the paddocks around the barn would be dirt year round and that horses who cannot go out in the big field because they don't get along would never have any grass.
Notes from the webinar:
Green Horse Keeping: Mud Management
April 19, 2010
Speaker: Alayne Blickle - www.horsesforcleanwater.com
Issues associated with living in mud:
- Mud Fever
- Rain rot
- Increased insect problems (mosquitos, filth flies, midges)
- Weight Loss & General Unthriftiness
- Sand colic:
- Ingestion of dirt, sand and soil particles
Issues for owner convenience and efficiency
- Difficult to do chores
- No fun to catch horses or clean for a ride
- Looks bad!
- Mud, erosion and run-off of sediments deteriorates nutrition of the soil and can cause problems for aquatic life
What is mud?
- Fine organic material + soil + water = mud
Fine organic material is key because it holds 200x its weight in moisture.
Mud Buster Options:
- Establish a sacrifice areaAn area is sacrificed and understood that grass will never grow in that area. It should be on a high, well-drained area with vegetation as an absorption buffer area below it because as this area becomes hardened there will be a lot of run-off.This is where horses are kept on the winter when pastures are dormant and soil is soft. Prevents over-grazing.
- Pick up Manure regularlyA horse produces about 50# of manure on a regular day. Manure is the basis of most mud because it provides that organic absorptive material.
- Use footings for paddocksSacrifice areas need footing: gravel, sand (can be dusty, do not feed on sand, in sloped areas, sand can migrate; but, horses love rolling in it), hog fuel (large chipped wood product – be sure it’s non-toxic).
- Use footings in other high traffic areasHigh traffic areas: watering areas, in front of gates, walk ways.Options: Stall and trailer mats, used conveyor belting
- Install gutters and downspoutsCapture clean rain water and keep it clean and out of the mud.Roof rain runoff can be routed directly to a water trough for watering horses.
- Use trees as mud managersTry to always use native trees and shrubs.Evergreens are great because they do not go dormant in the winter and continually use water. Rows of trees and shrubs can intercept run-off.