Renting out a field to graze horses - things to consider?

(20 Posts)
notasausage Tue 03-May-11 12:12:24

We are looking to buy a property that has 12 acres of lovely grazing land currently as one field. We hope to sub divide this and rent out for horse grazing to help fund the purchase. I have almost 30 years of experience with horses but never owned land before (or a horse for that matter!) and would really appreciate the advice of anyone on here who either rents or rents out a field for grazing.

Our current thoughts would be to sub divide this field into 3x 4 acre paddocks each with a field shelter that could be used as temporary stabling for grooming/tacking up etc and use the temporary electric fencing if further division becomes necessary. Is this the right way forward? The field is south facing and sheltered on 3 sides with woodland. Should we divide more or less? Would you rent a field if sharing it with other horses you don't own?

If you currently rent grazing does the owner offer any additional services such as holiday cover (included or extra) or daily services that I suppose may be more like grass livery such as morning/evening feeding and checking. What other facilities would you expect/like?

Any advice greatly appreciated. If we can get this property it will really stretch us and I need to know we can get it right.

Butkin Tue 03-May-11 13:13:24

We rent 7.5 acres off a local farmer. It is divided into two fields surrounded by post and rail with hedging. One (our Summer field) has some trees in it and a constant water supply. The other (our Winter field) doesn't have shelter other than the hedging and we have to drive water up from the stables.

We pay 400 pounds a quarter (ie 1600 a year) for the land and this includes harrowing and fertilising once a year and he keeps the hedging in trim in addition to the water supply.

We strip graze but provide the electric tape, posts etc ourselves.

We also have to sign a legal agreement (used to be annual but now 3 yearly) agreeing to some rules and also guaranteeing we have 2 million pounds worth of 3rd party insurance cover for our animals.

The rules are mostly straighforward ie we can't take hay off the field, can't run a business from it etc. The only one that annoys DD is that it states that we can only keep horses on the land - no alpacas!

notasausage Tue 03-May-11 13:45:36

That's interesting about the insurance. I guess we would also need some public liability or similar incase of an accident caused by our property.

A friend in central scotland gets £40/wk for a 2 acre field with a field shelter and water so your deal sounds very reasonable.

Could you elaborate on the rules in your contract?

grin at alpacas!

You would also need to think about access, and possibly double fencing between the areas so that strange horses can't touch each other over the fencing. Proper fencing is not cheap......

You need to think about poo picking, topping and general maintenance too - I rented a field out last year and insisted that poo picking was done, otherwise grass goes sour, and it reduces the chances of worm infestation. Then someone needs to remove the large pile of poo that will accumulate! Ideally the field will need topping twice a year, (maybe once if it is good quality), who will be responsible for harrowing or rolling if the ground gets very cut up?

Maintaining pasture is not that simple, at least not if you want to keep the grass and land in good condition - think how complicated it can be to get a good lawn, then double the work!

Butkin Tue 03-May-11 17:19:00

Yes we are lucky because our land is in prime Suffolk country and the farmer also allows us to ride over his adjoining fields/tracks. I think your friend in Scotland is way over charging if this is just for a field although our rental is annual and we still pay it if the horses are in the stable during bad weather etc.

We poo pick our own field and basically treat it as if we own it. Would be different if shared. Our Summer paddock adjoins another rental paddock which a trainer uses for turning our racehorses. Only a post and rail fence between us and one of the t'bs is cribbing "our" rails so this could be an issue.

We pay for our own topping but only about 40 quid to another local farmer and don't really need it as we manage the fields quite well.

Will get back to you with terms of our contract. Originally it was quite a serious document produced by farmer's land agent but we've been there for nearly 10 years now and has really become a hand shake.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Wed 04-May-11 09:34:49

I'd probably do 2 acre plots. Shelter, water, adequate fencing. Double fencing sounds good, I'd hate people having to come through my paddock for access. Make sure gates and water troughs aren't in high traffic areas, Ie, in the nearest corner to home/ the carpark/feed shed. The horses will congregate here and make mountains of mud in winter. If you are going for a pay per horse scheme, remember people like me who only has ponies, they don't eat as much, don't make as much mud and need less space. I be unhappy to pay the same as a horse. Alternatively, if you do pay per paddock, remember that more ponies will fit in same space as less horses.

Butkin Wed 04-May-11 18:50:59

Just looked at our contract and it is mostly legal nonsense. However a few interesting titbits for you:

1. We have to pay the rent by standing order.
2. We have to repair the premises and keep in clean and tidy condition
3. We can't install any machinery or horsebox/trailer on the land without permission.
4. No sounds from loudspeakers or noise which can be heard outside the premises we rent
5. No animals to be kept on land other than horses/ponies.
6. There is a map showing the perimeters of our land and our access to it.
7. Lots of chat about "notice" to be given on each side.

Pretty straightforward.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Wed 04-May-11 22:12:59

I've just been on the bhs website for a sample loan agreement, you can download a sample yard/livery agreement from them too.

MitchiestInge Thu 05-May-11 09:54:27

my field/grass livery is £60 a week now sad plus further £35 for one tiny stable and shared-with-others turnout for little pony

need to move really

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Thu 05-May-11 17:59:33

Crikey Mitchy! Has it gone up or have you moved? I thought you were in a good yard?! Did I hear you say you have had trouble recently? Our whole yard is only £250 a month to rent!!

Lucyinthepie Fri 06-May-11 20:11:44

I'm in Kent. I pay £150 a month for 6 acres for my three. I wouldn't keep a horse alone so a two acre plot wouldn't be of any interest to me. My field has natural shelter on all sides and I have a small barn to store my hay and feed etc. In front of that there is a bit of hardstanding. There is water on tap, and the land owner looks after the fields and fences. I poo pick as part of the contract.
Renting just a field is tricky. Personally I wouldn't rent if there wasn't a bit of hardstanding that I could put a horse on when the farrier comes. And the field would have to have shelter. My field never needs topping - the horses eat it! I do need storage though. When horses are living out they can eat a lot of hay in the winter, so the liveries will need somewhere to put it.

Pixel Fri 06-May-11 23:24:59

The system where we are is very similar to what you are planning, big field is divided into smaller ones with shelters and troughs in each. They are generally big enough to graze 2 horses though they vary in size a bit (more by accident really if I know our farmer!) so one might only be useful for ponies and there is a big one down the end with a double shelter that can graze 4 horses easily. We have a path down one end so that everyone can access their field without going through anyone else's which I see as essential if you are planning a layout, but I would recommend making it quite wide if you can. Ours is too narrow to lead two horses comfortably. There are gateways in the fencing further up too so that it is possible to go through all fields with machinery if needed.

We also have a small paddock away from the rest to isolate new horses and a shared area that has a feed shack room, tap and hose (with small paved area), secure tying up places and a covered farrier's box. You really need something like this near the entrance because farriers and vets probably aren't going to be able to drive right down to individual paddocks.

We just rent the field and we are expected to keep it poo-picked and pull ragwort. All muck goes on a shared heap that the farmer removes when he feels like it regularly. Farmer keeps fences and troughs in working order. We can buy hay from him if we wish and he will deliver but we are free to buy elsewhere if we prefer. There are no extra services, liveries have to make arrangements amongst themselves to cover holidays etc, although the farmer has risen to the occasion in emergencies, such as when a blind mare panicked and destroyed loads of fencing and he was along there repairing it at 2am to keep all the others safe.

What facilities would I like? I used to think it would be electricity but I've since found that you can manage perfectly well without it. No, I'm desperate for a flat area for schooling!

Pixel Fri 06-May-11 23:31:26

Btw, we have permanent fencing between the paddocks with wooden posts. We do use your idea of temporary electric fence to subdivide as needed to rest grazing or restrict laminitics but we liveries provide this ourselves if we want it.

MitchiestInge Mon 09-May-11 21:11:26

Hi saggy, yes it went up and up and yes some trouble - I wouldn't know where to start describing it. Thank goodness for my sharers covering so much of the cost, unfortunately they also sort of bind me there. Have enjoyed not thinking about this while I was away for weekend but I really will have to, think about it at least, soon. Ugh. sad

I love the idea of direct access, without going through other fields, but also like the security of our difficult to get to field. It's neurotic but sometimes I really worry about horse theft or worse so the more secure, especially if a few houses overlook the field, the better.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Mon 09-May-11 22:11:56

Thats crap Mitchy! somewhere will turn up. I found the churchyard by knocking on doors of the houses I saw with paddocks attached, until someone said they would rent to me! I have also spoken to the local farmers in the past. More than one of them had land available.

Booboostoo Mon 09-May-11 22:39:35

First of all you need to speak to your local council and see if you need planning permission for the things you are hoping to do. Some councils require planning permission even for field shelters, and some of what you describe (offering services) fall under change of use for running a business.

Insurance is a must, you need public liability in case anything happens.

Then you need to think about how all this would work out. What sort of times of the day would liveries be allowed to turn up? Where would they park? What about toilet facilities for them? Would you allow them to park trailers/lorries? What about security? Tack stored in field shelters sounds like a recipie for theft. What is access like if people want large lorry deliveries of hay/bedding? You also need to consider the location of the muck heap and muck disposal. As a livery yard owner you would also be responsible for the welfare of the horses on your premises even if they were on grass livery, so you need to have some policy on what you would do about people who did not turn up to look after their animals.

Pixel Mon 09-May-11 23:13:46

Oh good point, I forgot it took years for the farmer to get permission for all our shelters. You can often get round it by using the moveable ones on skids. Also security, we all have to take our tack home which is a pain but we'd be silly not to.
The farmer gets rid of the muck heap but he sells it to the local allotments for about £100 a trailer load so it's not exactly a hardship for him! (I used to know some people who rented a field next to some allotments. They used to arrive in the morning to find their stables mucked out for them because the gardeners were so keen to get their hands on the muck before anyone else could. grin)

Mitchy, I worry about theft too but we do have houses all the way around two sides of the field and it is on the edge of a hill so steep drops on the other two sides. It's not ideal and I can still see ways a thief could cut the fence and lead the horses away but really they'd have to be pretty determined. <convinces self>

notasausage Mon 16-May-11 20:33:16

Thanks all for your comments. Hadn't really considered deliveries/storage/muck heap but they're all pretty obvious.

bacon Tue 17-May-11 12:24:28

I do livery at £25pw incl hay- totally DIY. I have a PLI insurance anyway but this DIY aspect was added too.

Land poaching in this area (SE Wales) is a problem and hubby will not have them out grazing when its continually wet. We have 3 fields of around 10acres each and can rotate when necessary. Currently there are only two on 5 acres which is ridiculous! The other people of three ponies on any field but we also keep sheep in as not willing to give up good rental land for low rent. They have to bring them in at night as getting too fat!

Rules rules rules and agree that you can get the contract off the BHS. Some insurance companies may want to see yr contracts too. Some points to add - no parties, numerous family members, dogs, moaning and drug dealing!!! If they dont abide then chuck them off. Be careful with payment - you want 4 weeks in advance (too many stories of people doing runners).

Toilets not necessary!

Check that offering the land through farm rental isnt more profitable - some areas are offering £40per acre and you dont need to mess. There are plenty of small holders who are desperate. Your local land agent will be able to help you.

Pixel Tue 17-May-11 21:09:00

We had to pay a month's rent as deposit as well as 4 weeks in advance, basically so the farmer doesn't get landed with the bill for broken shelters and fencing if someone causes damage and then leaves.

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