Winter weather makes horse care more challenging, but the better prepared you are for the winter, the easier it will be. These six tips can help you to get your barn ready before the first snowstorm arrives.
1. Prepare for Rodents
As the temperature drops, rodents seek out warmer areas to live. This means your barn will be even more appealing than it normally is. In order to make your barn less appealing, clean up your feed room and make sure that all feeds and supplements are stored in rodent-proof containers.
You’ll also want to invest in some traps to help keep the rodent population under control. If you have barn cats, they may take care of this issue on their own. Be very cautious if you choose to use rodenticides. If pets accidentally consume rodenticide, they can die. And if a pet or wild animal consumes a mouse or rat that has been poisoned, the animal can be at risk of secondary poisoning.
2. Check Your Heaters
Taking just a few minutes to check on your water heaters now means that they’ll be up and running when you need to rely on them.
Check any water heaters for signs of wear or rust. You’ll need to carefully inspect the cord and plug, too. Test out the heaters by putting them into your trough and checking the temperature of the water after a few hours. Just remember that some heaters are thermostatically controlled, so they won’t necessarily turn on until the water temperature drops below a certain point.
3. Clean Your Gutters
Before the snow flies, take the time to thoroughly clean your gutters. Clogged gutters can cause both snow and rain to get backed up into your roof or along your barn’s foundation. If this freezes, it can result in serious damage that could have been prevented.
This is also the perfect time to visually inspect your roof for any signs of damage. You don’t want to discover a hole in your roof during the middle of the winter, so take a look at your roof while you’re cleaning the gutters.
4. Remove Cobwebs From Your Barn
Cobwebs aren’t only unsightly, they’re also a fire hazard. While you have the ladder out to clean your gutters, take just a few minutes and decobweb your barn.
5. Stock Up on Hay and Bedding
Winter weather can make receiving shipments of hay and bedding difficult, and you don’t want to find out that your hay supplier is out of hay halfway through the winter. Now is the time to stock up on hay, bedding, and other supplies. Just make sure that you store these items properly, so that they will be protected from the elements.
6. Store Medications Properly
Did you know that if some medications are allowed to freeze, it can affect their function? Go through your First Aid kit and pull out any medications that are sensitive to temperatures. Store these in your home or in a heated area of your barn.
While you’re at it, now is the time to remove liquid items like fly spray or coat conditioner from the barn, or at least to transfer them into a heated space. If you allow these products to freeze, they may not function correctly when you next use them, or the bottles they’re stored in can be cracked by the frozen product.
A little preparation can make caring for your horses much easier during the winter months.