HousingIf you own your own small farm with a few horses, chances are you do much of the gruntwork yourself. But when is it necessary to hire out for labor, and under what circumstances could you be saving money by doing chores and maintenance yourself? Not all of us are handy enough to make fence repairs or equipped to hay pastures, but we can certainly clean some stalls and turn out some horses.

On that note, I would agree that horse owners on a shrinking budget should do as much of the work as they are capable of, but hire out when necessary. The following excerpt by Heather Smith Thomas from the June 2009 issue of The Horse explains some of the advantages of hiring it done, even if it does cost more:

“Custom work – whether hiring someone to put up your hay or build your fence – might be more feasible in many instances than doing it yourself. It might be more practical to have a local farmer or professional haymaker put up your hay, mow your pastures, or spread your fertilizer, than to own and maintain the needed machinery.

‘Do you really want to spend all that time haying, or would you rather spend the time with your horses?’ asks Bob Coleman, PhD, PAS, equine extension professor at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. It’s the same with putting up fence. ‘If there’s someone available you can hire, who already had the equipment and can do in a short time what might take you many days, it may be more feasible to hire it done. …If you are trying to do something yourself to save money that you are not comfortable doing, you may not do it correctly.’ ”

For more information on saving on labor costs, whether you do the work yourself, hire help, or labor is included in your board, read the complete Equine Housing chapter here. Next week we’ll start taking a look at truck, trailer, and machinery costs and cost-saving.