If you own a barn or manage a stable, you’re likely aware of one persistent problem that plagues them all. PESTS. No matter the weather, season, or temperature, pests make their way to your stalls unless you have a formidable plan to dissuade them. Hopefully, you have an excellent strategy already in place. If you don’t, consider these pest control tips to fortify your stable and deter those pesky menaces from causing unnecessary harm to your barn ecosystem.
Proper grass and weed maintenance around your property can be a great first step toward stable pest management. Keep grasses near barn structures at a reasonable height, weed-eating regularly to keep tall grasses from penetrating side walls or equipment. Penetrating grasses and weeds offer additional access points for ants and bugs, making it easier to enter and attack tack room trash or feed stores. Consider adjusting the grass height for changes in season, either by personal choice or height preference based on cool or warm season grass types. In addition, scrap and equipment piles should be kept to a minimum or eliminated, if possible. Mismanaged junk piles, especially with dense ground cover, offer the perfect hiding spots for rodents and snakes. If your barn or stable is located near a grazing field or hay crop, field mice and snakes may be most common. Keeping a good cut line near your structures will often deter these creatures as they’ll keep to the field to limit exposure risk.
For horse barns, sanitation is critical for keeping stable flies and mosquitoes away from your animals. First of all, figure out your manure pile. Pick up and relocate manure daily, if possible. When relocating manure, consider an open, dry area. Somewhere it can be easily spread to dry out. Flies and mosquitoes often utilize moist manure as an efficient location to breed. Disposing of the manure quickly can help keep these pests away from your structures and animals.
Standing water can also be an efficient breeding ground. Ensure proper drainage for your stalls. Don’t allow mud to accumulate or stay around too long. If you have permanent water troughs, clean them out regularly to limit algae and debris. This ensures they get refreshed and limits the potential for pests to lay eggs in the stagnant water.
Whether your feed is stored in a tack room or outdoors near a stall, consider keeping opened feed bags inside hard-sided containers. Aluminum bins or polyethylene storage containers are ideal in most cases. Open food stores, although easily accessible, are inviting meals for rodents and bugs to explore. Proper management of your feed keeps your barn more organized and deters pests from attempting to acquire a bite.
In some cases, chemical insecticides and rodent bate are the most effective pest control options. Consider the health and safety of your barn before considering either of these methods. As an alternative, natural remedies can also be attempted. Consider spraying horses with a simple water and vinegar solution or even citronella oil for fly and mosquito deterrents. These have been known to deter insects for up to two days. Additionally, you can release fly predators in your barn to prey on barn flies or other biting insects. Completely biteless and stingless, these tiny predators never become pests but can be an efficient solution for barn insect problems.
Remember, every stable is different, and every caretaker has their preference when dealing with insects, snakes, and rodent pests. Consider these tips when attempting to control this persistent problem among most barn owners.