Barns can be home to many different types of animals but regardless of what lives in your barn, it is important to keep it clean and hygienic. If a barn is not kept clean, bacteria and viruses can be spread, resulting in sick animals. There are many disease agents that can live in barns for a considerable amount of time, making regular cleaning of the utmost importance. The following tips are helpful for practicing good barn hygiene and keeping your animals healthy.
Personal hygiene as a means of preventing the spread of diseases in barns is often overlooked. Personal hygiene is an important way to prevent the spread of diseases. For instance, in the poultry industry, employees are required to “shower in and shower out” before entering and upon leaving the facility. On horse farms, however, people commonly go from barn to barn without much concern for the spread of disease. If possible, it is a good idea to dedicate clothing and boots for use on only one farm.
All barns and farms should have hand washing facilities located around the area to encourage hands to be washed frequently. Research has shown that in other industries, when access to hand washing facilities increases, the compliance of rules regarding hand washing also increases. In barns, antiseptic soaps or Betadine scrub should be available at all sinks. You can also place disinfectant outside of each stall to allow handlers to disinfect their hands before working with another horse.
Hand washing is also important for prevent chemical contamination when working with medicines. Many products that come into contact with bare skin should be washed off immediately.
Cleaning the Barn and Stalls
The number one way to control the spread of disease is by cleaning. Cleaning means getting rid of dirt, manure, and old feed. Following removal of these things, the barn should be scrubbed and rinsed with detergent and hot water. Once rinsed, a disinfectant should be used but be sure to follow the directions on the label. Thorough cleaning is necessary for removing contamination and allowing disinfectants to penetrate surfaces.
Thorough cleaning can be difficult in barns due to dirt floors, wooden walls, and a lack of drains. If you are ever building or buying a new horse barn, considering these factors could make cleaning much easier in the future. There are several types of disinfectants that can be used in barns so you should do some research to determine what is best for your needs as not all cleaners will kill all types of bacteria. If any animals in your barn become sick, they should be removed to an isolation area until they are treated and the barn should be thoroughly cleaned. It may be necessary to seek the service of a veterinarian to ensure that infected animals are properly treated.
Barn Spring Cleaning Tips
Even before winter officially ends, most horse owners are getting ready for warmer weather. One important step in getting ready for spring is to clean and organize the horse barn that may have been neglected a bit over the winter. To be completely ready for warm weather, horse owners should not only clean up and organize their barns but also horse trailers, and even the horses themselves when necessary.
Clear out Unneeded Winter Equipment
One of the first steps when it comes to cleaning your barn after a long winter, is removing or storing items that will not be needed during warmer weather. This includes unplugging and cleaning bucket heaters and stock tank heaters. At this time, the windows of the barn can also be washed. While storing and cleaning unnecessary items, you should also take some time to dust and knock down any cobwebs that have accumulated in the barn.
Cleaning the Tack Room
Once it starts to get cold out, it can be tempting to throw supplies in a pile in the tack room. Once spring comes, anyone who has done this is in for some major cleaning. To clean a tack room, supplies should be sorted. Leather should be cleaned and oiled, and hardware should be polished. Blankets should be washed and repaired if necessary. At this time it is also a good idea to go through all your gear and get rid of any items that are not used and are just taking up space. Many horse clubs and organizations will host tack sales where members can sell the items they no longer need. If this is not an option, there are many horse rescue organizations that will happily take donations of items to help care for their horses.
Clean the Hay Room
Usually before the start of winter, horse owners will stock up on hay. While it may start out in neat, organized piles, by spring time, the hay room tends to be cluttered with good hay and bad. The first step in cleaning the hay room is getting an accurate count of how much good hay you have. Then, you can get rid of the bad hay and make room for new hay. If you have any excess hay, it can be donated to horse rescue organizations. Sweeping out the hay room can help to reduce dust, dirt, and chaff. It will also be easier to stack new hay if the floor is clear.
Clean up Equipment
Taking care of horses and the barns they live in can be a big job that requires lots of equipment. Before spring officially starts, owners should make sure that all their equipment is working properly. This includes lawn mowers, tractors, bale elevators, and any other equipment necessary to keep your barn and surrounding areas clean and organized.
Clean Horse Trailers
While not a part of the barn, it is also important to give horse trailers a thorough cleaning. Even when they are stored inside, trailers can easily become dirty and wind up with debris, and possibly even mouse nests inside. Trailers that have wood floors should also have their rubber mats removed so that the floor boards can be inspected for any damage. In addition to cleaning out the trailer, tires should be checked as well as hinges, wiring, and lights.
Clean the Horses
Cleaning up your horse barn also includes cleaning up its residents. Horses grow thicker hair during the winter, and then shed once warmer weather comes. To help remove loose hair, they should be scraped with a grooming block or shedding blade. Clippers can also be useful for removing extra winter hair that has grown around the animals legs and face.
Horse barns and the horses that live in them require a tremendous amount of work. Regular cleaning and organizing of horse barns will ensure that animals live in a healthy, happy environment.