How to Best Utilize Your Barn during the Coming Winter Months
If you want to keep your horses healthy, you will need to make sure that they are exposed to fresh air as much as possible. In the summertime most horses that are in stalls get this fresh air because the doors to the barn are open and there are fans going. This can be something that is difficult to do in the winter. If you want to keep your horses healthy, you will want to avoid having a barn that is locked up and keeps all of the warm air in. Even if your barn is unheated most horses will stay warm because the air is still being somewhat blocked by the barn walls.
Expelling Warm Air from the Barn
Horses produce a lot of their own body heat and they exhale a lot of warm, moist air that will rise to meet the cold roof of the barn. The problem with this is that the warm air will condense and collect moisture on the roof that will fall back down into the stall and you will get a lot of moisture. This can cause many mold and allergen particles that will be stirred up by the horses and unintentionally inhaled which can cause problems for the horse.
To prevent this type of situation from happening you will want to build a barn that promotes the circulation of fresh air throughout the barn. This will allow the air in the barn to be continuously replaced by fresh air from the outside. If you are planning to remodel a barn, you will want to make sure that you take this into consideration.
The best way to be able to get rid of warm, moist air is to have a design that includes ventilation at the top of the barn for the warm, moist air to escape. A good place to put these vents will be at the ridgeline and at the ends of the barn to get the best results. This will give you an opening at the top of the stall walls, slightly below the eaves. A cupola is another feature that you can add to your barn that will not only add personality to your barn but will help with ventilation.
Getting Fresh Air into the Barn
Now that you have the moist, warm air leaving your barn, you will have to make sure there is a way for fresh air to get into your barn. Most of the time this will occur at the lower levels of the barn. This will generally happen naturally because there will be enough space between the wallboards for fresh air to enter. You will want to consider some smaller vent areas as well instead of just having huge open windows so that the cold winter air is not just blowing full force on the horses.
Protection From the Cold
Although you need to maintain good air circulation during the winter months in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, you will not want to forget that some horses may need additional help to stay warm in the winter months. For these horses, you will want to make sure that you put a blanket on them to make sure they stay warm and healthy even though the cold air is circulating through the barn.
Owners who are considering adding these small changes to their barn will want to make sure that they also have a place in their barn where the horses will have an abundant amount of shelter. This can be achieved by adding a run-in shed or a windbreak to your barn. You will also want to make sure that your water remains running and doesn’t freeze and you will want to keep quality hay available as well.
Because your animals will be inside most of the time while the winter is dragging on you will have to clean out the manure on a daily basis. This can be time-consuming compared to the summer months because in the summer the animals are in and out all day long. Most of the time in the winter they will be inside away from the bitter cold. This will cause you more work because you will not be able to just leave the manure laying around or your barn will wear down quicker than it should. Cleaning the manure out is part of the upkeep of the barn itself.
Ice, Water, and Snow
When the freezing cold is creeping in you will want to make sure that you drain the water from your troughs and the lines that feed them. Put the troughs inside your barn but put them close enough that you can fill them with a hose for the animals. You will most likely have to break up and remove ice every day in the bitterly cold winter months. You may be able to find a floating heater that you can add to the water in order to prevent it from freezing every single day.
Another factor to consider is snow removal. If you don’t have a plan in place for snow removal, you may be faced with some serious issues in the winter. If you have too much snow on the roof or arena of your barn, it could cause a collapse that would be devastating. You will also need to keep an eye on any areas that might be slick so that you don’t have any accidental slips that you can’t afford.
Fix Problems before Winter Hits
Make sure that before winter hits you are checking the barn on a regular basis to make sure that there are no repairs that need to be made. Taking the steps to check your barn and get the problem fixed immediately will ensure that you do not have to make extensive repairs in the cold winter months. This includes checking service heaters and pumps. You definitely don’t want the heat to go out in the middle of winter and you need to make sure the pumps are working for the water otherwise you could potentially lose all of your livestock. Get all of these things checked before winter hits.