Disinfecting your farm is a very important task that should be taken care of frequently all year long. All of us seem to understand the need to keep our horses shots up to date, but most of us forget that day-to-day cleanliness is crucial to having a healthy barn of horses as well.
There are a lot of people that think disinfecting is more important during the hot summer months, because of the bugs and the heat, but it turns out your horses are just as sensitive during the cold harsh months and disinfecting may be even more important because horses have to stay in their stalls more.
Cleaning stalls daily is helpful to the cleanliness of your barn, but what lies underneath the shavings, the bacteria and pathogens that get trapped in the dirt and mats in the stalls, is what you want to focus on removing. Stripping your stalls once a month is a great way to keep the germs down. Once stripped spray down the stall mats with a disinfectant. All mats in your barn should be disinfected frequently because they absorb and collect all kinds of bacteria and pathogens. These come from the horses’ feces or from their hooves after being in the pasture, or they can even carry them in on their coat.
In addition to the barn, stalls and mats, it is important to disinfect the horse buckets (feed tubs, water buckets, automatic waters). Feed tubs and waterers are a direct path to bacteria for horses. Check these items daily and then dump and scrub them to prevent unhealthy build up. All of these items can collect flies and other bugs when they are dirty. The flies and bugs that are attracted to the infested areas can be carriers of infectious diseases and can transmit them from horse to horse. Bug prevention (fly traps, clean stalls, manure dumped far from barn, and not leaving trash) is crucial to keeping your barn clean and healthy.
Some things we do not think of that need frequent cleaning are the pitchfork, wheelbarrow and brooms. Any item that is used to clean collects and touches all the germs in the barn and needs to be cleaned and/or replaced often.
A very important task to remember is to wash your grooming brushes and tools. Horses carry fungus and skin infections a lot of the time and they are easily spread between horses when constantly used on numerous horses. Using a disinfectant on brushes allows you to use them on all horses. However, it is still smart to clean brushes even if they are used on only one horse.
It is our duty as farm managers to notice a horse being sick. Whether it is a cough or a runny nose or something more serious, it is important to keep the sick horse separated from the other horses and to immediately disinfect the areas where it has been. When a new horse comes into the barn, a short quarantine is recommended to make sure the horse is not bringing in new germs to the barn from its past location.
Pressure washing is a great idea for cleaning stall fronts and wood. There are several cleaning agents out there such as Chlorhexidine, Alcohols, Hypochlorites, Iodophors, Aldehydes, Quaternary ammonium compounds, Phenols, Alkalis, Peroxygens and chlorine dioxides. The safest route is to use a Phenol based cleaning solution. Pine sol is a great cleaning agent that is affordable, safe and gets the job done in terms of disinfecting your barn. Add pine sol to your pressure washer and clean your stall fronts, walls, mats, cross ties, wash stalls, and buckets.
Think deeper than just the outer layer of cleaning when it comes to your barn. Horses are dirty animals and just like people they can catch bugs and viruses anytime of the year, so cleaning and disinfection is crucial to take place all year around and quite frequently.