Barn Safety | By: American Stalls | Date on: 01/23/2019

A clean barn environment is crucial to a horse’s overall health. This is pertinent to the horse stalls, feed rooms, tack rooms, wash bay areas, and just about any other area in the barn. Yet, as horse people, we understand that it is challenging to maintain the barn’s cleanliness from time to time.

It’s impossible to make barn surfaces 100% sterile (free of all bacteria and viruses),  but meticulous disinfection can go a long way toward reducing harmful bacteria and viruses. 

Clean and tidy barn for foaling

To begin, it is important to disinfect a horse’s stall anytime you have an ill horse on your property. This means that you must disinfect the horse stall after the horse recovers and before the stall is used to house another horse.

Here are some helpful tips on how to properly disinfect a horse stall:

  1. Timing the Cleaning & Removing Horses: If at all possible, choose a cleaning period when you can expect to have sunny, warm days with breeze to help ventilate the cleaning. In the meantime, take any other horses out of the barn and to an area away from the contaminated horse stall.
  2. Remove all bedding: Remove all bedding, manure, and strip the horse stall bare. Don’t put any contaminated bedding in the manure pile or the spreader because these piles can be breeding grounds for other bacteria.
  3. Remove removable objects: Remove all removable objects such as stall mats, buckets, hay nets, and other equipment from the stall. Clean these removal objects with a mixture of hot water and dish detergent – scrubbing the buckets with a stiff-bristled brush. Rinse thoroughly and then continue to scrub the items again with a 10% solution of bleach. Allow the buckets to then air-dry without rinsing. We then recommend to scrub a third time with hot water and dish detergent (and any other disinfects). Rinse thoroughly after this last scrub to remove any detergent or bleach residue. We highly recommend that stall mats are cleaned in a similar fashion – then hanging them up somewhere off the barn floor to dry out.
  4. Disinfecting the actual horse stall: Clean the horse stall with a similar method as above. Spray the stall with a 10% solution of bleach before applying a disinfectant. This helps remove biofilms that can protect bacteria from disinfectants. Allow the horse stall to completely dry before spraying a disinfectant. We then recommend that you completely wash the stall walls and other solid surfaces with a pressure washer or garden horse, a stiff scrub brush, and dishwashing detergent. TIP: Pump sprayers from your local hardware stores work well to apply bleach and disinfectants. 
  5. Choosing a Disinfectant: We recommend that you ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on the best disinfectant to use. Phenolic disinfectants are often the best choice, but the exact disinfectant can widely depend on the pathogen that you wish to control. After using the disinfectant, please allow the horse stall to fully dry.  
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