Here in Upstate NY, our winters are brutal. Being located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, we can get buried pretty quickly by lake effect snow. In the winter of 2015, we had 125.3” of total snowfall! As we start to batten down the hatches, or close the stall windows of our barn to keep the nasty cold out, you also should start thinking about how we are going to winterize your horse barn. Here are a few tips!
- Stock up on supplies you may need in the winter, such as hay or bedding. Some barns I know cut and bale their own hay, but if you purchase hay from someone else, stock up on it at the end of summer when prices will be the lowest. If you wait until the first of the year when you are running out of hay, prices can almost double. Be sure your hay is stored in a well ventilated area.
- Take the extra time you’ll be spending in the barn to do a good dusting. Cobwebs in a barn can be a fire hazard and are not sightly. Use a broom covered with a cloth and go through your barn with a good cleaning. The cobwebs and dust that has collected over the summer aren’t good for your horses’ health or yours!
- Walk around your barn and see where there may need to be repairs. Waiting until there are sub-zero temperatures to fix a gate is definitely not an ideal situation. Complete all of the repairs that you may see. Also be sure to know where everything is located around the outside of your barn. If you live in a climate like we do, snow can accumulate very fast and you may lose sight or forget where something was placed outside of your barn. Draw a map of your facility if you have to, so that you know where everything is located outside once the snow covers it up. Be sure that gates are all still accessible in the snow.
- Although our first instinct is to close everything in the barn up for the winter to keep heat in, you still need to keep your barn well ventilated. During the winter, your horses are probably going to be spending 50 percent or more of their time in their stall. Mucking your stall daily, and keeping good ventilation throughout your barn will keep your horses breathing healthy air and keeping them happy.
- Make sure you have enough space for your winter manure. A 1,000 pound horse can generate 50 pounds of manure each day. Even a barn with a few horses can quickly create a mountain of manure. Before winter comes, create an adequate place to store the manure for a few months, or construct a plan on how to remove the manure even with snow on the ground and how you’re going to dispose of it.
The biggest issues that you may face in the barn in the cold winter months are spending additional time mucking out manure from the horses being inside more, and trying to keep the dust in your indoor arena down, without freezing your footing. Both of these potential problems can be solved by installing our SmartStall™ Mattress System and our Dust-Free Arena Footing. Our one piece, wall-to-wall mattress system will eliminate deep bedding and cut down on time it takes to muck out your stalls. By installing our dust free footings in your indoor arena, you no longer have to worry about watering your footing in the winter and then the footing freezing from the moisture. Winters can be hard in a horse barn, but installing our products in your barn and taking some steps to winterize your horse barn
can make it easier!