Eco Horse Property Management

When building and maintaining your horse barn, corrals, round pens and arenas, you can make chemically conscious choices, which often translates into being eco-conscious choices, with just a little more thoughtful effort. For those of us with Chemical Sensitivities, lowering ‘s VOC is our only option. But being aware of VOC’s is really important for everyone, especially if you have children or your immune system is impaired.

Building barns, fencing, etc.

Reclaimed woodBuild using reclaimed or recycled wood from a Salvage Construction company instead of a lumber mill.

Forest Certified WoodIf you must use freshly milled timbers, work with a Lumber Yard who works in harmony with Forest Management.

Eco-DesignsInstead of wood, use an eco style of building for your barn such as Straw Bale, Rammed Earth, Mud Brick or Rock– all of which give excellent insulation, are sustainable and fire resistant.

Paint*

Fragrance Free Latex – although almost all latex paint brands from Behr to Dunn Edwards are now offering a “green” paint line, the only true MCS paint I have found is AFM Safecoat. It lays just as you expect a latex paint but without the sickening smell and VOCs. Excellent coverage and color matching. Even with serious MCS I was able to have this paint in my home without after-affects.

Alternative paints made with vegetable ingredients and without solvents:

Milk Paint – old-fashioned milk paint for painting furniture and other woods. Just add water and paint.

Anna Sova – a new type of milk paint. Luxurious and No VOC.

Master’s Blend – No Petroleum; Non-toxic, chemical free wood treatments.

Green Planet Paints – a woman who started out with Milk Paint but then wanting a more latex texture, developed her own type of paint with a soy resin compound. It smells, but is said to have no VOCs.

BioShield Paints – carry Clay paints, petroleum free wood treatments and stains, and indoor paints made from citrus peel extracts, essential oils, seed oils, tree resins, inert mineral fillers, tree and bee waxes, lead-free dryers and natural pigments. Although not fragrance free, they are eco-friendly and will certainly work better for those with MCS than latex paints.

*Those with chemical sensitivity know they must test out each product for themselves since everyone will have their own specific allergens, triggers, and reactions.

Water

It is common to recycle rain water as an eco-friendly way to Garden. Go beyond your garden and harvest rain water for your Barn, too. Think about recycling rain water to the Barn’s Wash Rack to wash your horses.

Specially designed tanks and property drains can collect the water, filters clean the water from debris and contaminants; while a high pressure pump delivers to your wash rack. A good plumber should be able to install a simple system.  For more complex and large properties, specialty companies can offer tailored designs for your specific needs.

Attach an outdoor slop sink to your harvested water system and use it to clean your buckets, grooming equipment, tack, and to wash the dogs.  Add a hose bib and use it to hose down your stalls, water arenas and round pens, plus wash your heavy equipment. As you can see, there are many uses for non-potable water besides garden irrigation.

Does this sound like too much trouble? Then start small by using a Rain Barrel. Once you see the benefits, you will do doubt be inspired to continue.

Energy

Barn roofs give us a great opportunity to install solar photovoltaic panels to offset the Barn’s (and other on site structures) daytime electrical energy usage. The most efficient, but more costly design are solid solar panels mounted on the roof. Less efficient, but more economical Solar Cell Roofing shingles are becoming increasingly popular. Both options will allow you to use the sun’s energy, making your ranch more eco-efficient.

Outdoor lights for the arenas and paddocks are good candidates for high-efficiency lighting fixtures.  Compact fluorescent or LED fixtures use a fraction of the energy when compared to traditional incandescent fixtures.

Do you have hot water running to your wash racks? Then how about installing a solar water heater along with a push button hot water delivery system. If installing a barn laundry area, be sure to go with High efficiency appliances.

Managing Manure and Stall waste

What you do with your horse waste will Depend largely on where you live. If you live in town, most likely your waste is being hauled away for you. If it is not being picked up, you need to have a regular and timely schedule of manure removal from you property.

Some people make their manure available for use as fertilizer for nurseries or private homes. This is a great option since it means the manure is not only being hauled away, but it is also being put to excellent use.

A less desirable option (certainly less ecofriendly) is to spread the manure. This can be done as raw fertilizer on planted crops (be sure to do your research as to which crops and when, since fresh manure can cause ‘burning’ of delicate plants and spread bacteria to vegetable gardens). You can also spread manure on fallow pastures only. Never let your horses graze manure contaminated grasses. Fresh manure in the fields means any rain will carry contaminates and undesirable runoff into the ground, possibly polluting ground water and definitely polluting the ground itself. I have seen manure spread on large arenas, but this is putting yourself at risk because decomposting manure is slippery.

The ecoAlternative is to make a compost pile with your manure. Composting is especially imperative if you want to have a green lawn and garden without the use of chemicals. Although not difficult, it does need to be set up properly. There are many helpful websites and excellent books explaining how to properly compost. If you are hesitant to set up your compost bins, get help! Look in your area for a composting service or just find a local commercial gardener (one who does organic gardening, obviously) to help you build your bins and get you started.

Flies

*** for chemical free Fly Sprays Click Here . ***

Unfortunately I have seen barns where the owner has either given up, or decided to accept flies as a way of life. Flies are not only unsanitary, thereby posing a health hazard, they also make life miserable. Therefore, for the health and happiness of you and your horses, a working fly system is a MUST.

Instead of using expensive chemical spray systems, there are many eco ways of effectively handling this problem. Of course, as always, the basics of keeping the stalls clean and managing your stall waste is very important.

Fly predators or parasites – whatever they are being marketed as, are a great option, and are becoming increasingly more available. SpaldingOrganic Cowboy, The Source and Arbico all offer these insects.

Basically Fly predators are a type of tiny nocturnal stingless and biteless wasp that use the developing larva of flies as a nest for their eggs. This means instead of disease carrying flies, a harmless wasp will hatch. Fly predators have many benefits: no poisons sprayed down on you, your family or your animals and no messy clean up; they are a simple, effective and easy to use method of controlling fly populations.

Fly Tape is an old-fashioned solution that still works, but not for the faint of heart (like me!) Sticky Tape applied to the entry ways and windows of your barn will trap hundreds of flies. Cheap, available at your local mart, with no poisonous chemicals involved (although some have fly pheromones to attract) this can be a viable solution when properly maintained. But to me, the disposal part…well this is not my first choice!

Fly Traps – Effective and cheap. Make your own or buy commercially made. Arbico offers a “solar fly trap” that lasts 5 weeks. There are also the disposable bag type — and still I would not be the one doing the disposing! But if you have a nice person or spouse around to do that part for you… this is a good way to go. 🙂 

If you already have a spray system in your barn, can you fill it with an herbal fly spray instead of a chemical one? It would benefit everyone to cut down on pesticide use and kill flies naturally.

That’s all I can think of right now! But as with all my posts, I will continue to update this page.