Fall is here and it's time to start thinking about winterizing your barn. To help efforts our experts at Southern States, shared some ideas and tips to help get the job done.
There are a couple of things you should consider. First, check with your local hay suppliers early to make sure they will have the products you need. And, purchase your products early to avoid some products selling out. You will want to keep extra grain in the barn in case of bad weather to avoid hazardous driving and possible store closings. Check your barn and/or stable roof and doors for leaks and rust. Make sure doors can be closed tight to keep out the wind. Check windows to make sure you can let in some fresh air.
Check and/or purchase water resistant blankets for your horses. Make sure all pipes, spouts, and faucets are wrapped and/or insulated. Water consumption is very important. Just as people prefer warm beverages in winter, horses prefer warm water, not cold. Continually check the trough and break up any ice to prevent the horses from kicking and breaking the trough. Southern States also carries water trough de-icers that are safe for stock tanks and water troughs. To encourage your horses to drink more, purchase a bucket wand that heats the trough water. Make sure your horses have access to minerals and salts both in the stalls and in the fields.
Even though they are not working as hard, they still need these minerals. Salt will encourage them to drink more. If horses are not drinking, you can add sugar or Kool-Aid® to encourage them. Southern States also carries Water bucket Insulators that are just like a coozie-cup for a beverage that you mount on the wall. They sell for around $77. During the winter, put warm water in it and the water stays warm. During the spring and summer, if you add cold water it will stay cold.
An abundance of moisture, whether from standing in snow, water, mud, or a mucky stall, can make your horse more susceptible to thrush. Cleaning your horse's hooves daily will reduce the risk. If your horse is stall-bound for a long time, make sure the stall is clean. Southern States Pelleted Bedding is really a good choice because it absorbs moisture in your stalls. Initial start-up for a 12' X 12' stall is about 10 bags. Pelleted Bedding costs around $5.79 for a 30-pound bag. It's higher in cost up front, but because the pellets shake loose from waste you add less to the stall when cleaning – approximately 1 to 2 bags a week.
The best way to monitor a horse's weight is to run your hand over their barrel feeling for their ribs, as well as along their backbone and croup feeling for bony protrusions. If your horse is losing condition, minimally and systematically increase their grain intake. A general rule of thumb is to increase grain quantities by ¼ measures each week until the body condition begins to improve, and then continue that amount/portion throughout the winter. If your horses are losing weight, try feeding them Legends® Pelleted Rice Bran. It is a good way to add "cool" calories without causing hyperactivity. With 18% fat and Omega 3 and 6, Legends® Fortified Pelleted Rice Bran improves hooves, skin and coat. One or two pounds a day is all that you need.