What is a sacrifice area?
A sacrifice area is a small enclosure such as a paddock, corral, pen, or turnout area that is meant to be a place for your horses to go when pastures are too wet or you want to limit grazing. The suggested size of this area is 100m2 (1000ft2) per horse. It is called a sacrifice area because you are sacrificing this area for the benefit of your pastures. They are beneficial for a number of reasons:
- protection from overuse of pastures
- over-consumption of lush grass in the spring and early summer
- area for central watering
- feeding location for rotational grazing systems
- area for care of sick or injured animals
There are numerous reasons to keep your animals off wet pastures. Pasture grasses can be killed and mud can be created through trampling and churning of soil. Also, large animals can compact the soil, which kills plant roots and reduces drainage. This causes further vulnerability of your pastures to weed growth, soil runoff and erosion. Since a sacrifice area provides a place for your animals to live during wet times of the year it is important that it be on high, dry ground with good footing such as crushed rock or sand. There should also be a buffer around the perimeter to prevent runoff.