When I set up my equine livery business, I had a rough idea of what equipment I might need. I knew I’d need a tractor, a set of chain harrows and a roller, but actually, there are far more implements needed in order to look after the land properly.
The first piece of advice I’d give you is to choose your tractor wisely. There are so many variations in terms of size, power, and features. It can be confusing to the uninitiated as there are so many types of tractor. We make our own haylage, so we need a tractor that is capable of making and transporting our haylage. However, if you don’t make hay or haylage, you may not need a large tractor so a utility or compact utility tractor should suffice.
Chain harrows and a roller. The harrows are used to aerate the soil, remove dead grass/moss, level out divots, and spread manure. We use our harrows spring and autumn, and also when paddocks are left to recover after being grazed. The roller is used in a particular window of time when the soil is just soft enough to roll flat. Too wet and the tractor leaves great trenches around the field, too dry and there isn’t enough give in the ground to flatten it.
If you have haylage, you will need bale forks. Bale forks lift the bales without puncturing the wrapping – very important as you don’t want it to spoil when you are moving it. If you have large round bales of hay, a bale spike is essential so that you can move the bales to where they are needed. These bales weigh around 400kg so cannot be moved without equipment. Small square bales are easy to handle without equipment and can be lifted onto barrows.
A mounted post driver is extremely useful. Fencing needs regular maintenance and when a fence post is broken, there are times when it can be almost impossible to drive it into the ground without a post driver. These attach onto the back of the tractor and will hammer the posts into the ground. Horses can use the fence as a rubbing post and if the soil is wet, this loosens it so that it wobbles.
We have a flail mower that we use to cut the grass for our haylage. It is also used for paddock maintenance where there are patches of sour grass. Our mower can be set at different heights and this makes it very versatile.
A couple of years ago we bought a seeder so that we can sow grass seed over larger areas. I always thought this was a bit of a luxury until I had to do it by hand. Now we just load the seed into the seeder and spread it on any thin or bare areas in the fields. It really does lighten the load and makes life a lot easier.
As you can see, there are several implements that I would recommend to any livery yard owner. The investment can seem like a lot but it could be costing you a lot more if you are using contractors. To get more advice on the sort of equipment, including tractors you should invest in please see the Heming Engineering website.