Free range stabling concepts offer a variety of opportunities for you to help sustain wild plant and animal life. The environment needs all the help it can get, which is why we should all take advantage of every available opportunity.
Here are a couple of examples of ecologically upgrading a free range stable, taken from Gut Heinrichshof.
Using a bee hotel as a divider in an free range stable. Oak tree trunks were cut and placed in the corners and holes were drilled into them. There is a space left in the middle for flowering plants to provide food for the insects.
Using a dead hedge as a divider. On the one hand, the horses can nibble the foliage, on the other, a dead hedge creates a strip of land that can be taken over by many forms of wildlife, especially the smaller animals.
Natural mineral block holders. The first photo shows a tree trunk with a hole cut into it. It was fenced in to allow the horses easy access to the mineral block, while leaving a small corner free for plants and wildlife. The photo shows the newly constructed holder. The free corner was also sown with flowering plants.
And here’s another option, a small dry stone wall.
Fallow strips of land also have great benefits for the environment. In free range stabling, this can be easily provided by putting up a small double fence, which also offers the great advantage of keeping out most (unfortunately not all) greedy would-be foragers.
Fodder shrubs and trees are still a far too underutilized option for forage feeding. Which is why hedges are a very important element in designing a free range stable. The horses can nibble on overhanging twigs and branches. It is a great way of keeping them occupied and can also provide them with valuable nutritional supplements. The hedges also offer food and habitat to a variety of wildlife. It is important to choose native, non-toxic shrubs and trees, such as hazelnut, alder, birch, willow, ash, poplar, sloe, hawthorn, wild rose and any wild fruit trees.
If you incorporate as many environmentally sustainable factors as possible into the design of your free range stable, you will quickly find yourself playing host to a number of visitors …