Barn Safety Features You Can’t Afford to Ignore
It’s the small details that make a stable a success story.
Cutting corners can be both costly and dangerous to the health and welfare of your horses and the people who work with them.
Here are some tips on how Hay Racks, Feed Troughs and Chew Guards should be installed and maintained for maximum safety.
What are they?
Horses’ overall health depends heavily on hay, their primary source of fiber. Hay management promotes longevity and robust health for horses by ensuring the digestive system functions as nature intended. Proper hay management also affects horses’ behavior, as it helps to reduce stress and the incidence of digestive issues. High-quality hay is essential to maintain a healthy horse.
When hay is carelessly strewn on the ground, it becomes susceptible to contamination from dirt, dust, and even waste. This not only results in unnecessary wastage but also exposes the horse to a slew of potential health complications. Therefore, it is important to store hay in a clean, dry place away from the horse’s living area.
Hayracks, with their elevated design, solve this challenge. By keeping the hay off the ground, they substantially reduce the risk of contamination. This ensures that the horses are ingesting clean, quality hay whenever they need it.
Furthermore, hayracks that are placed at the right height mimic horses’ natural grazing postures.This alignment is more than ergonomic; if it is positioned correctly, it can also improve respiratory health streamlining the feeding process for stable managers and owners.
Poor construction dangers:
- Risk of Entanglement and Entrapment: If a hayrack is built with gaps or spaces that are too large, a horse can easily get its hoof, head, or other body parts trapped. This can result in sprains, broken bones, or even strangulation if the horse panics and cannot free itself. To avoid this, hayracks should be designed and built according to the size and shape of the horse, and should be regularly inspected for signs of damage or wear.
- Sharp Edges and Protrusions:Improperly finished hayracks might have sharp edges or protruding parts. Horses reaching for hay can cut or scrape themselves on these edges, leading to wounds that might become infected. To avoid this, hayracks should be designed with smooth edges and surfaces.
- Unstable Mountings: If a hayrack is not securely attached to the wall or ceiling of the horse’s box, it could collapse under the weight of the hay or if a horse leans or pushes against it. Such a collapse could injure the horse and spill hay, which might result in wastage or create a messy environment conducive to pests.
- Consumption Difficulties: A poorly designed hayrack might make it challenging for the horse to access its hay, leading to frustration and potentially malnourishment if the horse cannot get adequate food. Additionally, if hay falls out too easily, it can lead to excessive wastage.
- Material Hazards: Using inappropriate or substandard materials for hayrack construction can introduce risks. For instance, certain metals might rust, leading to jagged edges, or could even be toxic if ingested in small amounts over time. Similarly, using untreated wood might expose the horse to splinters or harmful chemicals.
What are they?
The act of feeding, while seemingly simple, has nuances that can significantly impact the health and well-being of horses.Orderly feeding is crucial to ensure that horses receive the nourishment they require without excess waste or exposure to contaminants.
Feed troughs are fundamental in establishing this order. These robust structures serve as designated containers for horse feed, ensuring that every horse gets its allotted ration. Without a proper trough, feed can scatter, leading to wastage and attracting pests, which can introduce a myriad of health risks to the stable environment.
Furthermore, specialized feed troughs are designed to regulate the horse’s rate of consumption. This is crucial because horses that eat rapidly are at a higher risk of digestive complications like colic. By slowing down their eating pace, these troughs aid in better digestion and nutrient absorption, further underscoring their importance in a stable’s daily operations.
Poor construction dangers:
- Risk of injury: Troughs with wide gaps, protruding parts, or loose fittings can pose a risk of injury. Horses can get their hooves, heads, or halters caught leading to potential injuries, panic, or strangulation.
- Sharp Edges and Protrusions: Just like with hayracks, poorly constructed feed troughs might have sharp edges or parts sticking out. Horses, especially enthusiastic eaters, might cut or bruise themselves when trying to reach for their feed.
- Unstable Positioning: Feed troughs that aren’t sturdily built or securely anchored can be knocked over or displaced by horses. This can lead to feed spillage, waste, and even potential injury if the trough is heavy or if the horse trips over it.
- Material Concerns: Metal troughs can rust or become very hot or cold, depending on the weather, posing risks to the horse. On the other hand, plastic troughs can break down or become brittle over time, potentially leading to the ingestion of plastic fragments.
- Bacterial and Fungal Growth: Poorly designed or cleaned troughs can accumulate moisture, leftover feed, or debris. This can be a breeding ground for bacteria or fungi, which, when ingested, can lead to various health issues for the horse, including colic or other digestive problems.
- Contamination Risks: A trough that’s too low or too open might allow pests like rodents or birds to access the feed, leading to contamination. Moreover, if positioned in a place where other animals can access it, there’s a risk of feed being contaminated by other species, potentially leading to diseases or ingestion of harmful substances.
- Choking Hazards: If the trough’s design encourages rapid eating or doesn’t allow for the even distribution of feed, horses might gulp down their food too quickly, increasing the risk of choking.
Horses that chew or crib can cause significant damage to wooden fences, barn doors, and stalls. This not only leads to ongoing repair and replacement costs but can compromise the safety and integrity of these structures. Apart from the obvious wear and tear on the stable’s infrastructure, consistent chewing or cribbing can jeopardize the safety of both the horse and handlers.
Chew guards, strategically placed on surfaces prone to being chewed, act as the first line of defense for these surfaces. By offering a protective barrier, they not only prevent infrastructural damage but also deter horses from ingesting potentially harmful materials like toxic chemicals, preservatives, or paint chips.
While chew guards will do little to prevent the act of cribbing, or wind-sucking (when a horse grips a solid object with its incisors and pulls backwards, taking in the air), chew guards make it difficult for horses to get a grip on surfaces, thus deterring negative effects of the behavior such as wearing down a horse’s incisors prematurely, affecting the horse’s bite and the horse’s ability to chew food properly.
To ensure the safety and well-being of horses, it’s crucial to invest in high-quality, well-designed chew guards that are specifically made for horses.
Poor construction dangers:
- Injury to the Horse: If a chew guard has sharp edges, splinters, or protruding hardware, it can lead to scrapes, cuts, or more severe injuries to the horse’s mouth, face, or gums.
- Ineffective Deterrence: A chew guard that isn’t durable might not stand up to a determined horse. If the horse can easily break or dislodge the guard, it will not serve its purpose, and the horse will continue its damaging behaviors.
- Ingestion Hazards: Low-quality materials or those with toxic treatments can pose a risk if the horse manages to chew on or ingest pieces of the guard itself. This could lead to internal obstructions or poisoning.
- Potential for Choking: If parts of a poorly constructed chew guard can be broken off or dislodged, they could become a choking hazard for the horse.
- Increased Stress or Anxiety: A poorly designed chew guard might not only fail to deter cribbing but could also cause frustration or stress for a horse that tries to engage in its habitual behavior, potentially leading to other harmful or aggressive behaviors.
- Economic Implications: In the long run, investing in low-quality chew guards can lead to higher expenses. One might end up replacing them more frequently or paying for repairs to the structures they were supposed to protect. Not to mention potential veterinary bills if the horse gets injured or ingests parts of the guard.
- Aesthetic Issues: Poorly made or ill-fitting chew guards can be unsightly, detracting from the overall appearance of the barn, stall, or fencing. Over time, they might also discolor or damage the surfaces they’re attached to.
- Reinforced Undesirable Behavior: If a chew guard doesn’t deter a horse effectively, it can inadvertently reinforce the cribbing or chewing behavior, making it even harder to manage in the future.
The design and construction of hayracks, chew guards, and troughs in horse housing is important for their safety, comfort, and health.
Poorly constructed accessories pose a variety of risks, including entanglement, injuries from sharp edges, unstable mountings, consumption difficulties, and material hazards.
J&E Grill Manufacturing stands out as a trusted solution, dedicated to crafting stable accessories that address these concerns. By opting for J&E Grill Manufacturing, you can be assured of a product designed to protect their animals and last. Contact us for more information on how to create a safe and secure environment for your horse.