It’s a new year! And that means it’s time for annual barn maintenance to prep your barn and horse for the remainder of the year. Long-time horse owners may know what needs to be done, but it never hurts to hear a new approach to creating the best and safest environment for your horse. And for new horse owners, read on to discover a list of tips that could help prevent any issues arising with your horses in the barn!
Keep Pests Out
A sealed barn with plentiful hay is sure to attract pests such as rodents, which come with the risk of spreading disease and fleas. To prevent pests from entering, use rodent-proof containers when feeding your horse. Sweeping the stall and organizing their areas may keep them away as well. If they happen to enter, there are a few things you can do to chase them out:
- Leave aromatic and sweet bait such as peanut butter rather than toxic bait and a pair of barn cats to help lure and catch them.
- Lay snap traps along the walls for rats, and for more giant rats and opossums, set out cage traps.
- Continuing to use metal rodent-proof food storage bins and sweeping the stalls daily will cut off the food supply and help eliminate these pesky rodents.
Bug control is a different pest issue that needs to be tackled. Many repellents are toxic, so finding one safe for your horses is crucial. To prevent the attraction of flies, wash your horse two to three times a week with our Map Skin Shampoo. Why? Horse urine attracts flies over thirty times greater than other large animals. You can cut down on exposure by removing the attraction.
In addition to flies, termites are also an issue to be aware of. Get a termite check for your barn and have your local specialist provide horse-friendly pre-treatments to keep the termites away!
Upkeep Barn and Prep For Emergencies
Do a maintenance check on the whole barn. Be sure that there is ventilation coming into the barn by checking the electrical systems. To keep mud from being tracked inside the barn and making a mess everywhere, place down footing materials such as wood chips and crushed rock. Put them in high-traffic areas like walkways and in front of gates to prevent a mess. Check the lighting system so you can see and care for your horse with no issues.
The roof of the barn doors and stables should also be checked and repaired for possible winter storms. Stock up on any products for your barn that will be needed throughout the rest of winter! In the event of a winter storm, it is best to be prepared. Buy a generator and make sure it has the fuel it needs. Also, always have batteries on hand. Test the batteries and replace them so that they can be used for battery-powered radios and flashlights. Cell phone chargers for your car may be of use to you as well.
Fire extinguishers are also essential to have on hand. You will need two at a minimum at each end of the barn. Get ABC-type extinguishers, which are good for paper, hay, electrical, and combustibles. You should have a five-pound size at minimum to have in a barn, but ten pounds is ideal. Do NOT get CO2 or water-pressurized extinguishers due to the fact that they do not cover all fire types like an ABC type.
Provide Adequate Storage Space For Food and Water
It is essential to find enough room in your barn for hay, which always needs to be kept clean, dry, and off the ground. Make sure the location is still easily accessible to make feeding comfortable. While gathering more and more hay as the colder months approach, ensure you find even more storage space. The barn should be well-ventilated to keep rodents out, and the hay should be kept a few inches apart.
Invest in equipment like a heated stall bucket to keep your horses’ water between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the water warm enough will ensure your horse gets the water it needs. That also applies to clean and dry hay to ensure the horses are eating enough. Maintaining the food and water supply will help the upkeep of the barn, especially during the winter.
Not only should the stalls be clean for the horses, but they should be dry. Stall cleanings should be done daily to keep your horses from slipping or getting hit with bacteria and diseases. Cleanings will prevent any long-term damage, such as mold and wood rot, in the future. Some tools you can use to clean the stalls include pitchforks, rakes, scoop shovels, stall fresheners, muck bucket carts, and a heavy-duty corn broom.
If you blanket your horse in the winter, ensure that the blankets are cleaned and organized before they are used. Bacteria and dirt can be collected, or they could have a tear in them. Make sure the blanket still fits your horse, and there is a safe spot to store it in the barn.
Some of these tips may seem self-explanatory, but every direction counts when protecting your barn and horse! Due to the harshness of wintertime, maintenance is a lot more necessary, and as a horse owner, you need to take all precautions. Here at Equine Medical & Surgical Associates, we aim to help get your horse back to health so you can enjoy your special time together. Contact us today and tell us about your horse, or view our list of products and see how your horse can benefit!