Friday, December 23, 2016

Coppice: Creating A Two Tier Pasture

I allow the horses that I ride to eat while we are riding, provided that they do not stop and that they maintain their gait while doing so. That has made me acutely aware of how much horses enjoy browsing from trees and shrubs.

The new pasture that we are creating has a total of nearly 20 acres, a small amount already open, a significant portion covered in pine, but a great deal of it was covered with sweet gum, ash,wild cherry and mimosa. The cherries can produce toxins and will not be allowed to remain alive. The largest pine areas will be allowed to grow after some thinning is done and we will use it for shade for the hogs and will likely build a special round pen for summer demonstrations and programs.

The ash, gum, and mimosa will sprout new growth from the stumps that will provide lush forage for the horses and goats well into summer. The  tree roots pull minerals to the surface from deep in the soil and some of those minerals reach the new growth. This diverse natural diet will be great for the horses.

We will probably leave many brush piles in the area to serve as habitat for wild rabbits. They enjoy few things more then the tender shoots that grow from the coppiced stumps.

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