Advice for setting up a horse farm

Are you setting up a farm at the moment?

Maybe you will get something out of this! I have set up four farms from scratch and just finished redeveloping another.

Here is some advice from past experience.

1. Stick to your budget

It is very hard to not overspend. Once you start developing most people fall into the trap of over spending and there is always one more thing you will get the contractor to do (“While your here, can you just…”)  It can keep snowballing from there and cost extra $$$. Sitting down at the table and working out your figures is a good start but what a lot of people don’t factor in is people not turning up, jobs not finished on time, rain, breakdowns and supply shortage of materials.

2. Don’t have people waiting around  for supplies.

3. Know what it will cost before you start

Once a job is finished, ask for the invoice to be sent straight away from the contractor. Even better, get a quote first as sometimes it’s better than an hourly rate. I can tell you there is nothing that annoys me more than seeing the contractor’s staff sitting around when the boss isn’t there. .

4. Shop around for prices

With steel, you can sometimes get what is called com stock which has a slight flaw – the gal may not be 100% perfect in finish but still fine to build with. You could save 30% off the price.  Remember the horses will still bite the top rail and take the paint off and the birds will still shit on the stable walls. So do your homework and shop around for good prices.

5. Buying the gear needed to build the farm.

If you decided to do it yourself, buying good quality tools is a must. I have spent probably over $400,000 on farm equipment. Second hand gear is OK if you know about the machinery. I bought a John Deere tractor for $18,000 and spent $14,000 in the first year – but the biggest problem was the down-time and not having a tractor as when you are building a farm the tractor is the number one machine.

If you have plenty of welding to do, buy a generator that can do a proper job. I stuffed many small welders by using too small a generator. My advice is, buy a big generator/welder. Miller make a ripper that has a industrial MIG welder and can run 4 other power tools while someone is welding. It is bloody tough and is made for out in the paddock work. I had mine for 2 years. I paid $12,000 and sold for $7,500 second hand and never missed a days work. It cost about $20 to run straight for 6 hours. If you need power tools, Makita and Metabo are good tough brands.  Tanaka is the best post-hole borer. Huskvana and Stihl are the two best chainsaws I believe. Pay the extra to have good tools and look after them.

6. Buy a decent post rammer.

Make sure it has a good tilt to either side and forward and back. Make sure you get a good lift height. I recommend three metre minimum lift and get a auger on the rammer as well. The hammer is the most important part make sure it is a good weight – 300kg plus. I have tried everything in fencing and in the end you can’t get a post tighter than ramming it in. We would put a 6 inch point on the posts and just drive them in. On a good day two people can ram 100 plus posts. Post and rail may need to be rammed by hand, but a good person on the rammer is worth a lot in time and money. For wire and netting fencing type you can’t beat the rammer. If you are putting netting up, buy a air staple gun it may cost close to a thousand to set up but by the end of 2 weeks it has paid for itself. Look into what the contractors use in a post rammer, remember they do it for a living.

7. Water is key

Irrigation is irritation – water is a pain in the backside. No matter how many times you think you have every joiner perfect, one always leaks. If the going is good you can rip the pipe in. Make sure you rip the line a few times before you put the pipe in and it will help keep at the right depth. If it is hot remember the pipe will shrink when it is cold so make sure the pipe has a few cm in extra length when you put the joiner on. In and around yards you will need to trench the pipe in and test the pipe over night with the trench open if possible so there is no leaks that appear overnight after pressure has built. Make sure the back of the troughs has good support and are attached well as the horse will rub their bums on them over and over. Troughs with easy screw out bungs are good and easy to clean. Place troughs close to fence lines or gates. Some staff are too lazy to check twice a day if they can walk or drive past. It’s the horse that counts in the end rather than having a bare patch near the gate.

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