Take Time for Facility Repairs and Maintenance
As horse owners and lovers, we’re well-aware that the Bluegrass’ cold winter winds don’t mean we get a rest. Boarding and caring for our equines means there’s always plenty to do around the farm.
Even though the thermometer’s mercury may be barely visible, we still have tasks that need our attention. Take advantage of winter’s down time to check off some items on your to-do list.
Completing some of these tasks—ones that perhaps have been accumulating for a while—will help you more fully enjoy your horses come springtime.
Get your barn in shape
The winter months offer a window of opportunity to handle any number of small repairs around your barn and stable area.
Barn fires are always a concern during winter. Horses typically spend more time in the barn, plus increased heating and lighting requirements place more demands on your electrical wiring
If it’s been a while since you’ve checked your facility’s wiring to make sure it’s up to speed, take some time to walk through the barn and stable to do a thorough inspection of electrical wiring and components. Repair or replace any frayed or damaged wiring.
Consult with a qualified electrician if you have any questions on the condition or repair of your wiring.
Also consider running a fire drill so that everyone involved in caring for your horses knows exactly what to do in case of an actual fire. And don’t forget to check your fire extinguishers to make sure they’re functioning properly.
Rodents will venture indoors in search of food and warmth during the winter. Inspect your barn for areas where rodents might enter, and seal any cracks a quarter-inch or larger. This will prevent most rodents and vermin from moving into your barn.
If you find evidence of rodents, avoid using poison. Trapping is a better option for the sake of your horses’ health.
Proper barn ventilation is essential in reducing airborne contaminants. Routine mucking of stalls is necessary of course, but doing so sends small contaminant particles into the air of your barn’s enclosed confines.
Without proper ventilation, your horses have a greater potential for developing respiratory ailments, including asthma.
To help circulate stale barn air, leave windows cracked a few inches or consider installing a mechanical ventilation system.
Now is also a good time to take care of any slippery steps around the barn and stable area. Apply traction paint or traction tape to help prevent slips and falls during the cold, wet winter.
Mend your fences
Grab a few basic tools, hop on your faithful steed, and take a ride around the fence line. Look for any loose boards or stray nails sticking out, and repair as needed.
You may need to take along some colored tape to mark areas needing more extensive repair, including loose fence posts or broken boards.
In short, make sure your fencing will withstand the elements throughout the winter. Heavy, wet snow and high winds can wreak havoc on an already weak fence line.
Go for greener pastures
If you want to ensure your horses have an abundance of fresh, green pasture to enjoy in the spring, you need to set in motion a plan now.
Consider setting aside a sacrifice area to keep your horses contained this winter. During the soggy winter months, repeated trampling will cause precious topsoil to erode.
Keeping your horses in just one area will allow the pasture to rest over the winter and come back greener and stronger in the spring.
Seeding should have already been done in early fall, but late fall is a good time to apply nitrogen. Your pasture grass will use it for early winter root growth and quicker recovery in the spring.
When applying nitrogen in the late fall (November through mid-December), limit the application to about 30 pounds of actual nitrogen per acre.
Invest a little time now in eliminating low spots in your pasture. These areas tend to become super soggy and messy over the winter months.
In particular, pay attention to low areas around gates. These areas present drainage problems and will become icy and slick when temperatures drop. Add gravel other material as needed to eliminate these problem spots.
The bottom line
Your facility’s needs never take a break. Use your down time this winter to catch up on chores that have accumulated during the rest of the year.