There are permaculture practitioners out there who speak out against the use of horses in permaculture. I disagree. Horses, when well managed like any other livestock, offer:
- Manure is composted and nutrients are returned along with organic matter to soil
- Hoof prints make indentations on top of soil creating pockets for improved seed germination
- Trampled cover crops during browsing return nutrients and organic matter to soil
- Horses ingest parasites of sheep and other species while grazing, reducing parasitic larvae counts in sheep, goats, etc.
- Pasture and forage maintenance is achieved through grazing. Well maintained pastures absorb tons of carbon from the atmosphere through regrowth and regeneration.
- Horses love to graze autumn olive, both full grown or young shoots, removing invasive species
- One horse can pull 2k-8k pounds depending on breed and health reducing need for tractors and fuel
- Horses can provide transportation (leisure riding, sport or utility)
- Meat in applicable countries
- Income by way of breeding, teaching lessons, or selling composted manure
- Shed winter coat hair can be collected and used to make paintbrushes
You can learn more about horse breed options perfect for homesteaders (and other animal species and breeds that offer so much function) in my book The Sustainable Homestead, available wherever books are sold.
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead® LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
The Sustainable Homestead, is out for pre-order NOW!