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Tips for Managing a Horse Barn in Cold Weather

Frigid temperatures and winter storms inevitably bring challenges to barn management, daily barn chores and your efforts to maintain healthy horses. But, if you take the time to get ready for your cold season while temperatures are still warm, you’ll be well-equipped for an easier winter.

Here is a checklist of tips for managing a horse barn in cold weather compiled from Dover Saddlery’s own experienced equestrians. We hope you find them helpful!

Prepare to Cope with Water and Electricity Issues

  • Check the functionality of barn hydrants. Leaky hydrants can freeze easily or break entirely, leaving your barn without water in the worst of weather.

  • Repair or replace leaky hoses or hose fittings. While small leaks can be a messy nuisance during summer, they can rapidly become a hazard in winter as patches of ice form on the barn floor or near critical walkways.

  • Install foam insulation around water pipes. This covering is economical and can easily be found at your local hardware store.

  • Install heat tape on hydrants, while paying attention to the product’s installation instructions.

  • Make sure you know how to turn off your water source in the event of a frozen or burst pipe.

  • Many horses do not like to drink very cold water. Because water intake is just as important to a horse in freezing weather as it is in hot weather, purchase heated water buckets. The water will be maintained at a cool and appealing temperature, but above freezing to enable and encourage your horses to drink. Heated water buckets, which are available in 20 quart and 16 gallon sizes, will save you from the difficult task of having to break ice and remove ice from your horse's buckets every day.

  • If you purchase a submersible water heater, be sure it is intended for livestock drinking water tubs.
    Note: Some submersible heaters are intended only to heat bath water and will bring water to a boil.

  • Consider obtaining a heated hose. This item will save you from the hassle of draining your barn hose or worse, coping with a frozen hose.

  • For people who have well pumps, loss of electricity leads to loss of water. Consider purchasing a generator with the capacity to run your well pump. You should also purchase an ample supply of water storage containers for the number of horses in your barn.

  • Obtain at least one battery-operated lantern for use during a power outage. Some lanterns on the market project enough light to illuminate an entire stall or grain room.

  • Be sure to closely follow all manufacturers’ instructions for electrical devices used around livestock.

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