As of September 2020, it is safe to say that we are living in unprecedented times with plenty of change. In the middle of this change, one thing does remain the same though. That one thing is barn safety protocols.
The fall season is the perfect time to start your preparations for winter. The days are usually cooler. There are less insects in the area or died off. In short, the fall time makes the perfect conditions for getting the barn ready for use over the winter. A simple, yet thorough inspection of your horse barn can help you keep your barn safe this winter.
Here are five things we recommend to do to prepare the barn for winter:
1. Deep Clean All Horse Stall Equipment
Clean horse stall equipment goes a long way in any season, but it is even more important to thoroughly clean in preparation for the winter. We recommend to remove bedding from the summer and early fall. Use agricultural lime or stall drying products to dry up any wet spots. Clean and remove all dangerous cobwebs, debris, and general clutter. Double check all electrical appliances (i.e. fans, heaters, etc) of any flammable buildup.
2. Inspect Bulbs and Electrical Components
No matter the age (or condition) of your barn, we recommend to schedule inspections on your wiring and electrical outlets. A thorough inspection includes the clearing of dust, debris, and cobwebs. Replace any blown bulbs and check wires for fraying.
We also recommend to outfit your barn with battery-powered (or solar powered) flashlights to provide safe access to your barn during power outages. Please note that all outlets or frayed wiring should be immediately repaired by a licensed professional.
3. Inspect and Clean Your Feed Room
Chilly fall evenings are often a cue for rodents to look for extra food. Before you know, a horse barn’s feed room can be an ideal outlet for rodent. For this reason, we recommend to clean up your feed room to help reduce the risk of rodents and insects. Sweep up spilled feed that will attract your unwanted guest.
Inspect your storage containers to make sure the lids seal tight. We recommend metal trash cans or metal bins instead of plastic bins that can be chewed through by rodents. Lastly, if you store hay in your feed room, use pallets that allow for better air circulation.
4. Prepare & Check Water Supply
Keep an eye on the water trough and take measures to prevent any and all freezing. A high-quality heating device is a sound investment and can help ensure your horse is well hydrated through the winter months.
Alternatively, if you use hoses, check the hoses for any leaks. Replace or add on to the existing hose length. Lastly, while the consumption of snow is generally not a health hazard for horses, it is not a good substitute for fresh water. It will not prevent your horse from getting dehydrated over the winter.
5. Check for Drafts and Superior Ventilation
Ventilation is essential for a horse’s overall health and specifically lung health. However, large drafts can be dangerous in temperature regulation. For older barns, we recommend that your barn structure. This means to check Barn End Doors and Barn Windows to cover any holes that let in too much air. Replace any broken Barn Doors, Barn Windows, Dutch Doors, or faulty door latches.
That being said, please remember that airflow is still critical in any barn even during winter months. Good ventilation can help reduce respiratory ailments among your horses. For this reason, we also recommend to inspect your existing stall doors, stall fronts, and other components to ensure they allow for maximum ventilation within the barn.
This list is far from an exhaustive lists since you can always do more to get ready for the winter. That being said, we recommend to start here so we we aren’t playing catch up during a winter storm. A thorough and mindful inspection can make sure to keep your horses happy and healthy this winter!