Farm Talk

Equine

December 28, 2011

Improperly heated horse barns can cause health problems

Parsons, Kansas — Horse owners who use heated barns to keep water from freezing and to protect horses from cold temperatures during winter should remember supplemental heat can cause problems if used incorrectly.

Ventilation is important when horses are kept inside a barn, said Dave Freeman, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension equine specialist.

“Closing up a barn to maintain heat may increase respiratory diseases because of high ammonia content and bacterial growth in stalls,” Freeman said.

Closed barns usually have increased humidity. High humidity combined with warm temperature can cause enough nitrogen smell or bacteria growth to irritate the horse’s respiratory system. These frequently result in chronic, minor respiratory problems that interfere with animal performance.

Freeman said controlled research to define acceptable humidity and temperature levels to lessen the chance of respiratory illnesses is difficult because of the variability between barns, the horse’s daily routines in and out of the barn and lack of controlling research conditions. However, many veterinarians attest to an increase in respiratory problems in heated barns with high humidity.

“The solution is to turn down the heat and get rid of the humidity by increasing air flow,” Freeman said.

Some farm operators have reported beneficial results by installing exhaust fans that move air when the humidity rises. There are methods to make these systems automatic by installing reostats that respond to humidity levels.

Another problem is that while the ideal temperature for horses is around 45 degrees to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, this “ideal range” may be neither cost effective nor a way to promote equine health.

“Increasing the heat of a barn above 55 degrees Fahrenheit not only can be expensive, it also may have negative effects when moving horses out of the barn into colder temperatures,” Freeman said.

Equine managers also need to remember that horses under artificial lighting programs for reproductive or show reasons will shed hair. Therefore, special considerations must be given to protect these animals from cold, windy and wet weather.

Even though hair growth is largely a photoperiodic response, warm environments assist in keeping hair short. Adequate hair cover is extremely important during cold conditions, providing the horse with needed insulation to combat the cold stress of near freezing or freezing temperatures.  Frequent movement into and out of heated barns from cold outside environments may in itself be a significant source of stress that can be avoided.

Freeman said one alternative is to maintain barn temperatures at around 45 degrees to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and use blankets to keep horses with short hair coats protected from cold temperatures in and outside of the barn.

“Part of the problem with maintaining proper barn temperature is that people working in the barn often like it a bit warmer than is recommended for the horses,” he said. “Horse managers should maintain barn temperatures at a level that will help promote healthy horses and not at a level dictated by a worker’s personal comfort.”

This might require periodic checks by the barn manager to ensure temperatures are set at the proper level.

“It’s often just a case of human nature. If you’re cold, you don’t think twice about turning up the heat a bit,” Freeman said. “But that oversight can cause health-related problems for horses, which in turn can mean money lost to the horse owner.”

1
Text Only
Equine
  • stripedblisterbeetle.jpg Scout for striped blister beetles

    Striped blister beetles, which can be toxic to horses, are being seen in high numbers in alfalfa in some areas of the state, said University of Missouri Extension entomologist Wayne Bailey.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • K-State vet says EHM occurrence is a reminder to take precautions

    It's springtime and for many horse enthusiasts, that means heading out to horse shows and rodeos. But two recent cases of Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy, after a barrel racing event in Nebraska should serve as a reminder that good biosecurity practices can help prevent illnesses, according to a Kansas State University veterinarian.

    May 13, 2014

  • KDA confirms EHV-1 case in Kansas

    The Kansas Department of Agriculture Animal Health Commissioner Dr. Bill Brown recently reported that a horse in northeast Kansas has been confirmed positive with a wild type of a non-neurotropic case of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1).

    May 6, 2014

  • HorseFest this weekend

    March 18, 2014

  • Tax changes for horse operations

    During 2013, horse owners, breeders and businesses enjoyed a number of favorable tax provisions that have now reverted to lower levels or expired. Over sixty tax provisions expired, some applied to all businesses, including the horse industry, and one was specifically applicable to owners of race horses.

    March 11, 2014

  • Bill lets Oklahoma counties decide horse slaughter

    A state senator is making a last-ditch plea for his bill that would require county voters to first approve any horse slaughtering facility before it could open.

    February 25, 2014

  • Treatments foals may need immediately after birth

    February 18, 2014

  • Missouri denies horse slaughter application

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Citing federal budget restrictions, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources recently turned down a request for a permit from a northwest Missouri business that sought to slaughter horses for meat.

    February 4, 2014

  • horse slaughter.jpg Mo. company prepares to process horse meat

    GALLATIN, Mo. (AP) — A small northwest Missouri company has been preparing to slaughter horses for meat after a federal appeals court lifted an emergency stay on U.S. horse slaughter operations.

    December 24, 2013 1 Photo

  • EKHA members.jpg EKHA horseman group honors golden anniversary

    Cowboys and cowgirls young and old recently celebrated the Eastern Kansas Horseman’s Association (EKHA) with a year-end awards banquet.

    November 12, 2013 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content