Improving Air Quality in Horse Barns
Did you know that horses can get breathing problems from air particles? That's right. It is the same as dust, pollen and hay fever trigger hay fever in humans.
In barns, hay is consistently tossed around, stirring up dust. Bedding materials are stirred up daily while cleaning stalls, adding more bedding, and cleaning the barn will stir up dust, increasing airborne particles. The increases the risk of horses developing respiratory problems or making the existing problems worse. To make things worse, using leaf blowers, sweeping aisles and mucking stalls with dry bedding while the horses are in, will kick up even more debris and dust into the air.
Two major respiratory conditions are linked to the air quality. They are heaves and inflammatory airway disease or IAD.
Heaves is very similar to asthma in humans. It generally affects older horses, while IAD can be seen in younger ones.
Horses with heaves will show signs at rest, such as flaring nostrils and labored breathing. Heaves can be seasonally recurrent while horses with IAD will cough only when exercised. It is highly recommended to make environmental changes to address both of these respiratory conditions.
The things that can be done to improve the air quality is to turn horses out while cleaning the stalls and the barn, which will make a huge difference for the horses with these conditions. Another thing that will help is to soak the hay when feeding it to the horses. This will cut down on the dust. It is best to keep the horses with these respiratory conditions outdoors as much as possible, where there is less dust to inhale.
When constructing a barn, the layout of the barn can change the air quality dramatically. Things like placement of doors and windows, which can create drafts, relocating the hay loft to cut down on the dust in the stalls, can make a big difference.
Some horses may require medication in addition to the environmental changes to improve their quality of health. Always work with your veterinarian, using their recommendations, to help the horses breathe better. Once the right combination has been figured out, keep up with them for the long term so the breathing problems do not return.
Brigita McKelvie is a REALTOR® (Pennsylvania License #RS297130) with Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, specializing in rural and horse properties and farms in Eastern Pennsylvania. She has an e-Pro® (Certified Internet Expert) certification and a GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute) designation.
Brigita McKelvie, REALTOR
Pennsylvania License #RS297130
Rural and Horse Properties and Farms
Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, Ltd.
The Premier Equine and Country Real Estate firm serving Eastern Pennsylvania from back yard operations to world class equestrian facilities.
Use a REALTOR with "horse sense" that doesn't horse around when it comes to horse properties.