Ventilation In Horse Barns

My large animal veterinary medicine professor told us a story of a visit to a dairy barn in the middle of winter filled with milking cows all with pneumonia.  The farmer was perplexed but my professor knew the answer.  He took a hammer and broke open every closed window.  Ventilation is the best way to keep the lungs healthy was the moral of his story.  I have always believed this.

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My large animal veterinary medicine professor told us a story of a visit to a dairy barn in the middle of winter filled with milking cows all with pneumonia.  The farmer was perplexed but my professor knew the answer.  He took a hammer and broke open every closed window.  Ventilation is the best way to keep the lungs healthy was the moral of his story.  I have always believed this.

There are some barns I go into in the winter where I can hardly breathe and my eyes tear.  Now I understand that this is a sign of overfeeding carbohydrates and the horse is destroying their proteins and excreting the resulting ammonia.  But it also means that there was no ventilation in the barn.

If moisture accumulates on any surface in a closed barn in winter then there is poor ventilation of that barn.  The horses are rebreathing their exhaled air.  This is not healthy in any situation but it is worse when horses are mixed with other horses from different barns (an incoming new boarder or at a show).  This is how airborne diseases travel between horses (strangles, influenza).

Let’s not forget the warm summer months.  Keeping horses inside where there is no air circulation not only adds to rebreathing and disease, it also adds to overheating and the stress from this.  Though rare because people don’t like to work in hot air with poor ventilation, these conditions do occur in barns that are closed up for any reason in the summer.  Like a dog left in a parked car with no open windows, the horses are trapped and stressed.  This can lead to other problems.

Ventilation is important for ALL animals.  If you are uncomfortable then so are your horses.  Ventilation is that simple.

An oscillating ceiling fan above a stall.


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