Horse­keep­ing: Fresh, clean barn.

What’s that sweet smell? With a lit­tle plan­ning and on­go­ing ef­fort, it can be the in­side of your barn.

Horse & Rider - - Table Of Contents -

Aclean, sweet-smelling barn makes for hap­pier horses— health­ier, too, as muck that causes bad smells can, over the long term, also dam­age equine res­pi­ra­tory sys­tems and hooves. Here’s what you need to con­sider to en­sure you’re main­tain­ing your barn in as fresh a con­di­tion as pos­si­ble.

Reg­u­lar clean­ing. When left over­long in your horse’s stall, the nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring am­mo­nia and other sub­stances in urine and ma­nure can ir­ri­tate his lungs, con­tribut­ing to res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses such as pneu­mo­nia and heaves. It can also weaken his hooves. So muck stalls out at least daily, and when you do, dig for urine spots, us­ing a broad shovel to scrape out all wet bed­ding. Rub­ber stall mats will en­able you to econ­o­mize on bed­ding while still keep­ing your barn nice and clean. (Just be sure mats are in­stalled prop­erly, so urine can’t col­lect un­der­neath them.)

Ad­e­quate drainage. Stalls and pens that drain well ease the clean­ing process and re­duce mud in wet weather. How your barn is po­si­tioned on your prop­erty can neg­a­tively af­fect drainage and cause mud prob­lems; in that event, well- placed gut­ters and down­spouts can help to di­vert runoff and keep mud from ac­cu­mu­lat­ing near barn en­trances or in stall runs.

Proper ven­ti­la­tion. An ad­e­quate air­flow within your barn min­i­mizes am­mo­nia buildup (plus re­duces eye and lung ir­ri­ta­tion from ac­cu­mu­lated dust and hay/ bed­ding par­ti­cles). If you’re con­struct­ing a new barn, work with a farm-build­ing con­trac­tor to choose a de­sign that of- fers suf­fi­cient ven­ti­la­tion while avoid­ing drafts; strate­gi­cally placed vents and ex­haust fans will help. To make do with the barn you al­ready have, keep doors and win­dows open as much as weather per­mits, even blan­ket­ing your horse if need be to keep him warm in win­ter in a setup with good cross ven­ti­la­tion.

Handy helpers. What if you keep your barn clean, dry, and well ven­ti­lated, but want to go that ex­tra mile for the fresh­est pos­si­ble ef­fect? Con­sider one of the many prod­ucts avail­able to fur­ther re­duce am­mo­nia and mois­ture in stalls and other ar­eas of your barn (see box). Barn lime (cal­cium car­bon­ate, or ground- up lime­stone) is a less ex­pen­sive op­tion, though mod­ern prod­ucts spe­cially de­signed for use in horse stalls are safer over­all and less dusty. (Cal­cium hy­drox­ide—“hy­drated lime”—is caus­tic and should never be used.)

A clean, fresh-smelling barn is pleas­ant and health­ful for your horse—and for you.

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