One of the many components of feeding horses properly is feeding fresh feed. This video will walk you through some simple steps to ensure that you are purchasing the right amount, storing it properly, and feeding it correctly to your horse, so that he always receives the freshest feed possible.
As we deal with heat and humidity, attention is often appropriately focused on the comfort of our animals. We sometimes neglect to think about the impact of heat and humidity on our tack and on our feed. Controlling humidity and temperature in areas where tack and feed are stored is also very important for the success of an equine operation.
Tack that is exposed to high humidity and warm temperatures can mold/mildew very quickly with resulting damage to leather. The following steps might be useful to consider:
- Make certain there is adequate airflow thru the tack room. This may require having windows that allow ventilation or the addition of fans to move air thru the tack room. Locate the air intake and air exhaust areas so that air flows thru the room, not just at ceiling level. If you install exhaust fans, consider where the air will be coming in to reduce exposure to dust or contaminants.
- Do not store wet saddle pads/blankets in the same area as leather tack. Do not put pads/blankets over the top of saddles on saddle racks.
- Make certain there is space between saddle racks to allow airflow between saddles.
- Consider using a de-humidifier in the tack room. If possible, install so it drains automatically instead of requiring manual emptying of the water container.
- If design and electrical wiring are adequate, consider a window air conditioner for the tack storage area.
Feed room ventilation is also important. Feed may absorb moisture from the air and mold even if it arrives at the farm at a suitable moisture level from the store or the feed plant. If possible, store feed out of direct sunlight as moisture migration can take place within feed bags, causing moisture to accumulate in one area of the bag. This is also a problem when feed is stored in bulk bins. The feed on the sunny side can heat up and cause moisture migration in the bin. The bin should be ventilated to allow moisture to escape but must be set up so moisture does not enter when it rains! Depending on material, bins can be painted with reflective color to help reduce heating.
During warm, humid weather, do not buy large quantities of feed at one time and make certain the feed is rotated properly so that bags are used up and bins are emptied and cleaned/inspected regularly. If bags are stacked, make certain that they are stacked on pallets or material that prevents moisture contact/accumulation at the bottom of the stack. Stacking bags directly on top of concrete or dirt floor makes the bottom bags very prone to getting damp and molding.
Pest control is also important for both tack and feed storage areas. Rodents can quickly damage tack and can contaminate feed. Keeping the areas clean and using commercial pest control may be one option to consider.
Keeping both tack and feed protected from excess heat and humidity is an important part of barn design and barn management!
Feed storage areas should have the following characteristics:
- Dry and well ventilated – Feed must be protected from moisture. Feed bags should not be stacked directly on the floor as moisture may be absorbed in the bottom bags and the feed may mold in the bag. Any feed storage containers (bins, garbage cans etc.) should be water and pest resistant. Also, you should completely empty and clean out the feed storage container on a regular basis. If you store feed in bags, make old feed is not allowed to accumulate by stacking new feed on top of the old bags.
- Well lighted – It is important that you be able to see clearly the condition of any feed or supplement products stored in your feed room. Feed and feed supplements are produced under controlled conditions. Once the feed has left a feed mill, it may be exposed to other conditions in storage, so it is wise to be able to see clearly what the feed looks like every time you feed your horse.
- Clean – It is important to keep the feed room/storage area free of spilled feed, dust and potential sources of contamination.
- Pest free – Feed tends to attract rodents, birds and insects. Spilled feed should be cleaned up. If pest control is required, care should be taken to make certain that any pesticides or rodenticides cannot contaminate the feed and that animals cannot access the pest control material. The hay storage area should also reduce the risk of exposure to pests. Opossums are identified as potential carriers of Equine Protozal Myeloencephalitis (EPM). Other species may also be carriers.
- Secure – Horses and other animals should be prevented from accidental access to the feed storage area. If the Houdini in your barn opens the stall and gets into the feed room, lots of bad things can happen! Also, if you have multiple species, you need to keep horse feed clearly separated for any other species feed, particularly medicated ruminant, poultry and swine feeds.