Spring Cleaning at the Yard
Warmer days and longer evenings can only mean one thing, Summer is on its way! Are you prepared yet? From Spring cleaning stables to pasture preparation, we’ve put together a selection of must-haves and top tips to help you get ready for Summer on the yard.
Stable Spring Cleaning
Has your horse been stabled over the Winter? If so, you may find that their stable is looking a little worse for wear! Now is the perfect time to do a thorough Spring clean. This will benefit not only your stable’s appearance and longevity but the health and well-being of your horse!
Can you smell ammonia (NH3) in your horse’s stable? For us horse owners the smell is all too familiar! Naturally, the smell of ammonia is repulsive, causing us to reflexively recoil in order to avoid it. Unfortunately, because we’re frequently exposed to the smell whilst we are in a situation that evokes positive emotions (spending time with our horses) we don’t react as we should. Ammonia is a caustic substance, sufficiently alkaline to be classified as a strong irritant, which affects the skin, eyes, nasal passages, sinuses and lungs. For both ourselves and our horses the effects of exposure can range from mild,reversible discomfort to chronic and irreversible damage. Spring cleaning stables at the end of Winter is a great way to make sure that ammonia build up is removed.
Dust and Mould
Respiratory diseases are some of the most common illnesses in horses, affecting both their general health and well-being and their performance. Ammonia isn’t the only hidden nasty that can build up in your horses stable over the Winter months. Mould spores and dust are commonly found in horse bedding and feed. Without adequate ventilation and cleaning dust and spores settle on surfaces such as walls, floors and windows. These irritate the lining of your the horse’s lungs. Prolonged exposure to such irritants can lead to coughing and respiratory infections.
So, now we know why Spring cleaning stables is so important, here’s a few tips to help you get it underway!
- First thing’s first, check you’ve got all your Spring cleaning must-haves. You’ll need a bucket, yard brush, shovel, wheelbarrow, yard gloves and disinfectant.
- The best way to start is by removing all bedding. Additionally you can use your broom to remove any dust and dirt from the stable walls. At this stage ensure the area is well ventilated to avoid inhaling hazardous substances.
- Once your stable has been emptied, it can be disinfected. There are lots of disinfectants available but be sure to look for one that is antibacterial and animal safe! Disinfectants should be diluted in a bucket (not used when feeding or watering your horse) according to the manufacturers instructions. Using a stiff brush scrub all surfaces to remove dirt and bacteria.
It’s an exciting time for horses and owners alike, it’s nearly time for Summer turnout! If your horses field has been rested over the Winter months there’s a few last minute checks that you can do to keep your horse safe and well.
Rubbish & Shoe Collecting
It might sound like an odd suggestion, but whether it has floated into the pasture on a windy day or been dropped from someone’s pocket it’s best that you check! Keep an eye out for anything from bottle caps to crisp packets, smaller items are easily swallowed or stood on by horses. This is also a great time to look for any lost shoes! Use a bucket and a pair of yard gloves for collecting any stray items. When collecting rubbish it’s best to have a strategy, start at the perimeter fence and work your way in to the centre of the field. While examining the perimeter of the grazing area it’s a good idea to check that all gates and boundaries are secure and in good repair.
We all know ragwort is poisonous to horses and ponies. Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is a common weed, which contains potentially deadly pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The toxic compounds found in ragwort cause damage to the liver. Although the bright colour and unpleasant taste of ragwort generally acts as a deterrent for most horses, it becomes more palatable once it has wilted and dried. Unfortunately once wilted ragwort still just as toxic. Did you know that to manage the spread of ragwort on or close to grazing land it is controlled by both the Weeds Act 1959 and the Ragwort Control Act 2003? This means that the responsibility of controlling ragwort rests with the landowner.
If you identify that there is ragwort present in your pasture then you’ll need to remove it safely to prevent it spreading. Ragwort is biennial, it’s seeds lie dormant in the ground meaning removal methods have to be repeated annually. For grazing land the most appropriate method of removal is hand pulling. When doing this you must ensure that the whole root is removed to prevent it growing back. It is best to use a ragwort removal tool in order to do this effectively.
Did you know, ragwort commonly grows on poor pastures? Ragwort growth may therefore highlight that there Is an underlying issue.
Year Round Tasks
You can improve the quality of a pasture in many ways throughout the year. From March onwards ensure that your pastures are harrowed to remove dead grass, rolled to flatten and weeded to remove unwanted or poisonous plants. Once Summer arrives your pastures should be topped, removing long and stalky grass. In Winter you should cover poached areas such as gate ways with wood chip or gravel to reduce damage. Additionally, where possible you should rotate pastures should preventing extensive poaching. The beginning of Winter is also the perfect time to have a soil sample analysed. To improve the quality of the grass itself you can use an equine pasture fertiliser. This reintroduces nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Throughout grazing periods pastures should have faeces removed on a daily basis, combined with an appropriate worming regime this will to help control parasites.
Ready, Set, Go!
We hope you feel like you’ve now got all the information that you need to get your Spring cleaning underway. If there is anything you think we’ve missed please leave a comment or call our customer service team.