A Heavy Use Area is a paddock with good footing used to confine livestock at any time pastures need a break from grazing. Livestock should be removed from pastures in wet saturated conditions and whenever grass is three inches or less in length.
- Locate the sacrifice area on high ground, away from streams or drainage areas. Locate for easy access to equipment such as gravel trucks and near feeding areas and manure storage.
- Size the area large enough for animal movement and comfort but small enough to easily pick manure. A minimum size would be 400 square feet per animal for livestock in general. For horses, 750 to 1,000 square feet per animal is a rule of thumb. Hot horses should have long and narrow areas such as 20 feet wide by 100 feet long. Some horses may need separate areas.
- Select fencing material with safety in mind. Eliminate protruding nails and bolts. Remove loose and hanging wire. Consider covering T-posts with caps and covering in a protective sheath. Electric wire provides the most flexibility in terms of low maintenance and adjusting the size of the area later on. Electric is generally effective on horses. Other fencing materials can be supplemented with electric fencing to protect both the livestock and the fence. Size gates to accommodate tractor and truck equipment.
- Animal friendly hog fuel, wood chips, 5/8-minus gravel, or sand are good choices for footing. See the enclosed sample design for specifics.
- Leave a grassed or vegetated buffer on the down slope side of the sacrifice to filter sediments and nutrient runoff leaving the sacrifice area.
- Use gutters and downspouts to exclude roof water from the confinement area. Use swales or subsurface drainage on the outside of the confinement area if surface water threatens to enter the sacrifice area.
- Provide adequate outdoor lighting. Remove manure daily.
Finally, enjoy your mud-free farm and verdant pastures.