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Preparing Your Barn For the Winter Time


October 13, 2021

Red barn in the winter

Depending on your region’s winter climate and the size of your barn, winter-proofing your barn can be relatively easy or slightly more time-consuming and labor-intensive. You and your animals may have to deal with rain, sleet, ice, snow, and mud.

Regardless of the time and labor involved, making sure your animals are prepared for these changes in weather early in the season can help you keep them warm and comfortable throughout these colder and wetter months.

If you want to have a stress-free winter, plan ahead and tackle these winter checklist items to get your barn ready for winter before it is too late.

General Cleaning and Repairs

During the fall, you can cross off all your general cleaning, maintenance, and repair to-do’s before the inclement weather arrives. Late fall is a good time to take an inventory of your horse barn, get rid of things you do not need and stock up on things you do.

Do some general dusting of cobwebs and dust to reduce fire hazards, change light bulbs, clean out gutters and downspouts, hose down your stalls and mats, and clean and replace all the bedding. Keeping your barn clean and organized during this time can also prevent rodents and curious wildlife from making it their home when they are seeking shelter and food.

Prepare your barn for winter by checking for damage such as broken windows, loose boards, loose shingles, or any gaps in the roof and wall that can be openings for rodents and allow freezing-cold air in. Fixing these structural problems before winter begins can reduce drafts and keep the barn properly insulated.

Water Supply

Horse eating out of bucket

If it gets cold enough, your water supply can freeze, which can reduce your animals’ water intake and health. Invest in pipe insulation during the fall to prevent these issues later on. Check that all of your electric water heaters, pipe warmers, and tanks are functioning.

Horses like drinking water between 45 and 65º F.

If necessary, hire a plumber to ensure that your plumbing system is winterized. Check that your frost-free pumps and automatic waterers are in working order and well-insulated. Consider heated waterers or heated buckets in the stalls to maintain your animals properly hydrated.

Ventilation

Even during the winter months, barns need proper ventilation and fresh air to keep animals comfortable. In most cases, keeping the windows slightly ajar can be enough to stave off freezing temperatures and biting winds and provide the proper air circulation.

Giving your horse a blanket can help keep them warm if it gets too cold while still bringing in fresh air. You may want to set up a wall-mounted exhaust fan that pulls out stale air from the barn if necessary.

Weatherbeeta Comfitec Medium Turnout Blanket - Grey/Lime

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Weatherbeeta Comfitec Medium Lite Turnout Blanket - Maroon & Gray

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Mud Control

Muddy terrain from the rain, melted snow, or ice, can not just stick to the bottom of your boot and track into the house, it can lead to bacterial growth and injury. Wet and slippery ground can reduce traction and lead to a hoof or leg injury

Bacteria such as fusobacterium necrophorum can cause thrush in horses. The bacteria in the mud can get trapped in horse hooves and cause an infection. White line disease is another issue with muddy areas.

Thrush Rid 2 oz.

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We recommend creating water runoffs or using sand, wood chips, or gravel in certain areas to improve the muddy ground with better traction and stability. Focus on high traffic areas. To prevent the heavy mud in the first place, rotate where you let your horses roam to prevent standing water and mud in your pasture.

Lighting

As the days grow shorter, poor lighting can limit your ability to work in the horse barn. Proper lighting, inside and outside, ensures you get all of your chores done such as removing manure, grooming your horse, and feeding your animals.

Snow Removal

Snow plow around farm

If your area gets snow, it is extremely important to prepare to remove it from your driveway to give emergency vehicles access in the event they are needed. Also, make sure to keep at least one trailer plowed in the event of an emergency.

Keep snow shovels, snowplows, snowblowers, and rock salt on hand to clear snow from gates and barn doors. A tractor with a snowplow is a good solution to clear the snow. If you do not have one, you may need a dependable contractor to clear the snow away. Let them know your common walkways leading to the barn and the paddocks.

SUNCAST Snow Shovel/Pusher, 20-In. No-Stick Blade

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Pasture Management

Horses in field in front of mountains

During the cooler temperatures, letting your pasture recover and reseeding bare areas can allow new pasture to come in during the spring. By letting your pastor take a break and reseeding, you can give your animals stronger and healthier grass in later seasons and reduce the growth of weeds.

Top Choice Horse Pasture Mix Seed, 25 lb.

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Central Oregon Pasture Mix, 25 lb.

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Top Choice Economy Pasture Mix, 25 lb.

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Electrical Wiring

Consider your entire electrical system. Does it need a complete overhaul? In some cases, a poor system can become a fire hazard. Hire an electrician to ensure that your barn’s electrical system is safe and able to meet your winter demands.

Having a secondary power source such as a generator on hand can be a lifesaver if the electrical system fails or there is a power outage. Barns that need electricity to power equipment such as water pumps can become a problem if not quickly addressed.

Firman Performance Series Generator, 8000W, P08003

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Firman Performance Series Generator, 3,650W, P03603

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Firman Whisper Series Inverter, 3000W, W03083

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Hay and Bedding

Come wintertime, hay may not be as widely available as it was in the fall in your area. Work with your hay supplier well before the colder months hit to ensure you have a good supply to last you through the season.

Keep in mind, you may be supplementing your animal’s usual pasture forage with hay during this time so you will need plenty of it. If you’re stocking up on extra hay, store it in a nearby area separate from your barn to reduce the risk in the event of a fire.

Same thing goes for your bedding. Supply may run low in the wintertime so stocking up well before winter comes can ensure you have some bedding on hand during an emergency.

Timothy Grass Hay Bale

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Nature's Bedding Pellets, 40 lb.

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Nature's Bedding Pine Shavings 10 Cu. Ft.

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Purina Impact Hay Stretcher 50 lb.

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Fencing

Sunrise behind barn in winter

While the winter snow can give your barn and property a picturesque appeal, snowdrift, heavy rain, and overhanging trees can damage your fence. If you have untreated wood in your fence, the winter conditions can damage your fence line and posts.

Walk the entire length of your fence to ensure that every part of it is structurally sound. In wire fences, check that the wires are tight and that the posts are firm and supported. Do your horizontal boards need repairs? Also, make sure to trim any dead tree limbs hanging over your fence that could break off and damage the fence.

DeWalt 20 Volt MAX 8in. Pole Saw (Bare Tool)

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Tack Room

Winter rain, snow, and wind can cause cracking and drying of your horse tack leather equipment if it is not cared for properly. Keep your tack room dry and well ventilated as well as ensuring to wipe down the leather equipment with a soft cloth and warm water after every ride. Oiling can help extend the longevity of tack that will be stored away for the winter.

Leather New Easy-Polishing Glycerine Saddle Soap

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Store feed and supplements properly to ensure freshness and keep out pests and unwanted moisture. Take the necessary steps to deter rodents and other wildlife because they carry disease and can contaminate or eat all of your animals’ food. Make sure to stock up on emergency supplies such as first aid kits, flashlights, batteries, chargers, battery-powered radio, and other winter essentials.

ANSI A+ First Aid Kit, Plastic Case

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Nite Ize Radiant NL1A-01-R7 Mini Flashlight, Alkaline Battery, LED

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Energizer "AAA" Alkaline Batteries, 4 pk.

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Energizer E95BP-4 Alkaline Battery, D, Zinc, Manganese Dioxide, 1.5 V

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Winter Gear

As winter gets near, horse owners should prepare with the right horse clothing such as thermal layers, snow boots, and extra blankets needed for their horses. Make sure all of your horse gear is properly cleaned and repaired. Ensure your turnout blankets are waterproof and you have at least one extra turnout sheet in case the turnout blanket gets wet.

Prep Your Barn for the Cold Weather at Wilco Farm Stores

Winterize your barn and give your animals the essentials they need to thrive in the cold climate. Before the cold and wet weather hits, shop Wilco Farm Stores for tools, equipment, and emergency supplies needed to brave the winter.

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