Spring is the best time for making new plans, getting a fresh perspective and the annual spring cleaning! While the spring clean is often relegated to the home or garage, it is by far more fun to get out to the barn and spring clean for your equine companions. Not sure where to start? Here is a simple list of to-do’s to get your barn and pasture spruced up for the spring season.
Hay Maintenance – This is a great time to clean up the hay storage area. Over the winter, questionable bales, chaff, and twine may have accumulated. This is the time to purge and prepare. Get old bales out of the barn to help prevent excess dust and mold. Sweeping and clearing things out now will make it much easier when the new hay comes in. While you’re at it, if you have a hay elevator, you may want to confirm it is in good repair and ready to go for the first cutting hay. It is a good idea to start thinking about how much hay you will need to purchase to get you through the upcoming season, secure a source, and plan a budget.
Stall Deep Clean – Uneven mats can be a real pain for day-to-day stall cleaning. This is a great time to pull mats, re-level stalls, and give the stall a deep clean. This may mean you will need to add some material and tamp it down get a good base so that the mats stay even as long as possible. Although re-leveling won’t need to be done every year, moving mats and disinfecting a year’s worth of horse mess is a good practice. Look for any damaged areas in the stall that may need to be fixed, replace boards, latches or fix any hardware that is in ill repair. Washing down the walls or even adding a fresh coat of paint on stall fronts to brighten up the barn will really freshen things up.
Scrub Feeders & Waterers – Give grain, hay, and mineral feeders a good scrub and replace items that are cracked, bent, or broken as they can lead to injury. If you were using heated buckets this winter, scrub them, stow cord in the bottom of the bucket and store them away for the summer. Thermal buckets can be used year-round as they help keep water cool in the summer which makes it more palatable for horses when it is hot outside and encourages them to drink more. If you are thinking about replacing your buckets, consider this – bright colors make it easier to see if a bucket needs to be cleaned.
Swap Out Seasonal Items – Wash and repair blankets before putting them up for the season. Bring out light sheets, fly sheets, fly masks and the like to make sure that they are ready to go and everything is in working order for each horse in the barn. Think about stocking up on fly spray or planning for fly management in the barn. Consider using natural fly control methods like Fly Predators or feed through supplements. If you use fans in the barn, make sure that they have enclosed motors to help improve safety. Most box fans have exposed motors and are not graded for agricultural use and can pose a significant fire risk, so it is important to avoid using them in the barn.
Clean & Organize Tack – If you haven’t been riding much over the winter, it’s important to clean tack and inspect it to make sure it is in safe, working condition. This is a great time of year to go through your tack room and organize. Spring tack swaps are a great place to unload some unneeded tack or find items that you will need for the upcoming season. If you can’t make it out to a local tack swap, there are a lot of great opportunities to buy and sell used tack items online.
Walk the Fence Line – Better weather usually means more turn out-time. Take a walk and inspect your fence lines to ensure that the fence is in good working order before turning horses out. Over the winter trees can fall on fences, deer can run through and cause damage or repairs that were needed at the end of the season got pushed off for warmer weather and need to be addressed now. If your horses have been in sacrifice areas for most of the winter, make sure that they are re-introduced to the fields gradually, so they don’t over graze. Spring is also a great time to consider adding additional fencing or updating fencing to make it more functional or safer for your horses.