by Lisa Kiley
When you think about horse ownership, it is more often that we associate it with spending money rather than saving it. There is always a new piece of tack, more hay to buy, and don’t forget the vet bills. But what if you could not only save a little money, but benefit the environment as well? Sometimes it can take a little more upfront investment, but there is quite a bit of money to be saved when you invest in ‘green’ products. There is also the bonus of doing something good for the environment. Even small steps can have a big impact.
Here are a few suggestions for getting started on going green:
See the Light – Changing bulbs over to LED lighting is a great place to start. LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lights. The wattage for LED lights is much lower, using less power while providing even greater light distribution. Better light distribution can even reduce the amount of fixtures you need to light your barn. There are no toxic elements to worry about in LED lights and they last up to 6 times longer than other types of lighting.
Keep it Clean – Manure can be a messy issue to deal with, but proper handling can create a by-product that can be useful. The best way to handle manure is to compost first, then add it to fields using a manure spreader. You can actually feed nutrients back into your soil that will benefit your pastures or garden. It’s important to follow environmental recommendations to make sure that the manure you spread will enhance the ground you are spreading on and not impede it or run-off into water-ways. Properly composted horse manure needs carbon-rich materials added such as dried leaves, sticks and even sawdust helps in this process (which is usually mixed with the manure from stalls already). Check with your local extension office for the best guidelines.
Give ‘em a Second Chance – When possible, buy items made of recycled materials. There are many things utilized in the barn that can be made from recycled products such as rubber stall mats and plastic items like mud grid. These products can even have a lower price than those made with new materials. Other items for your barn can be purchased used or repurposed to fit your current needs, both of these options are cost effective and environmentally friendly.
Buckets of Savings – Your horse needs water every day, but there are ways that you can be environmentally conscious and keep your horse healthy in the process. In the winter, using thermal buckets instead of electric heated buckets will save on energy costs. Because the bucket holder is thermal, it will also keep the water cool in the summertime, making it more palatable for your horse. It is also possible to find plastic buckets that are food-grade and bpa-free, protecting your horse from potentially harmful chemicals.
Go Natural – If you make your own hay, there are natural products like HayGuard that can help increase the quality of hay without adding harsh chemicals. The product is naturally derived from sulfur compounds. It allows bailing at higher moisture levels, saves more leaves creating more nutritious hay at higher yields. The product can also reduce mold and yeast growth resulting in a better product for your horses and less waste of resources.
Buy Local – These days, almost everyone enjoys the convenience of online shopping, but even free shipping has its costs. Supporting local stores has a positive impact on the environment and your local economy in ways that national chains can’t. Most local purchases require less transportation emissions, benefiting the environment. Local businesses are likely to be invested in the community in which they reside, both creating more local jobs and supporting local causes. Locally owned businesses are also more likely to employ individuals with a better knowledge of their product base. This means you are getting better information to formulate your purchasing decisions, saving time and money.
These are just a few ideas on how to incorporate a greener lifestyle in your barn without breaking the bank. There is no doubt that horse keeping can have environmental impacts of its own, so it makes sense to seek out ways to balance it out. Weather you keep your horses at home, board at a facility or enjoy riding on the trails, making environmentally conscientious purchases is an important investment for all horse lovers.