Thoughtful and responsible horse care includes offering your horse good nutrition, therapeutic gear and products that soothe and provide comfort. Following is a list of products designed to help your horse thrive at home and while working.
Your horse’s health begins within its environment. Keeping the barn and pastures free of pests is key to successful management. Jonathan Vrabec, a Colorado State University Extension director for El Paso County, Colorado, offers tips for reducing the destructive presence of vermin on your property.
Barns are warm and cozy for horses, but they’re also havens for detestable critters like mice, rats, racoons, skunks and insects such as flies, cockroaches and mosquitos. Don’t overlook snakes, birds and cats, even though they can serve an important role in catching rodents. “Birds can spread disease over a large area, and cats, if they have access to feed and then urinate or defecate on it can cause toxoplasmosis and impact EPM (equine protozoal myeloencephalitis),” Vrabec says.
If you’ve got cats, as most barns do, make sure to provide them with a litter box—or more than one—away from your feed room or hay storage. This will encourage them to use it instead of your feed or hay as a toilet. Vermin in the barn can cause a variety of problems. They can prove costly by consuming feed or contaminating it by defecating in hay or grain. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, horses can contract trichinosis from eating contaminated feeds.
A variety of health problems stem from rodents and insects, including EPM, West Nile virus, salmonella, vesicular stomatitis, leptospirosis, equine encephalomyelitis, equine infectious anemia, pigeon fever and the spread of parasites. If a horse or human gets bitten by vermin, there’s also the risk of contract-ing rabies and other infections and diseases. “Controlling vermin and other pests is an important part of a health management program and biosecurity plan,” Vrabec says.
Here, Vrabec offers 11 practical tips for promoting a healthy barn environment.
- Don’t feed hay or grain that is old, contaminated or has sat on the ground.
- Store feed properly—ideally in sturdy containers with locking lids. Rodents, racoons, skunks and opossums can pry off poorly fitting lids. Prevent and clean up spills. Store bulk feed away from horses since vermin and insects are attracted to it. Keep bagged feed off the ground (on pallets) and dry.
- Use sprays, traps and baits/poison for insects and unwanted animals. Be sure to follow directions on the product label.
- Address standing water by draining it or using “mosquito dunks” to kill mosquito larva. Regularly clean water tanks.
- Prevent tall grass, weeds and unkempt shrubs around the barn to reduce vermin habitat.
- Keep birds away from water and out of the barn. Don’t let bird waste accumulate or drop into feeders and water containers.
- Reduce access points into your barn where possible, repairing cracks and filling holes to ward off vermin.
- Keep tack and equipment off the floor and stored properly to reduce places for critters to live and hide.
- Keep excess supplies such as fencing materials and extra pallets away from the barn to reduce habitat.
- Dispose of human garbage appropriately and regularly.
- Promote good air quality and manure management.