Make Your Barn Green

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Horse people are among the ?greenest? people I know. By green I mean environmentally conscious?not grass stained. Where else can you find a group that talks about ?horse power? and means a horse clearing a five-foot fence, pulling a wagon full of children or completing a 100-mile trail ride' Yes, horse people know what is important.

From a veterinary point of view, there are many ways you can ?be green,? save money and keep your horse healthy and happy.

Right off the bat, think about your manure pile. This should be located to minimize fly problems near the barn and prevent drain off to any local creeks or ponds. To many gardeners, that manure is pure gold. Some diehards claim horse manure has to ?age? or it will ?burn? your plants, but the pile that sat there all winter should be perfect.

There are also the manure tanks that create gas from manure, but those are a bit tricky to get functioning to top levels and might get overwhelmed quickly by a large number of horses.

If you use straw for bedding, think about recycling it. You can dry lightly soiled straw out and reuse in your stalls or as garden bedding and weed control. If you're getting an odor in your stalls, that means it was too soiled or not dry enough.

Try to use local sources for hay, grain and bedding to reduce the carbon footprint from transport. If you're unlikely to use a full load of bedding, grain or hay, talk to nearby neighbors. Maybe you can combine an order, get a discounted price and save on delivery! You would be helping the planet and your pocketbook at the same time.

Put up bird houses and bat houses to fight bugs, including mosquitoes in a safe way. Leave a barn door open to allow barn swallows access and they will not only nest in your barn but they will eat thousands of bugs every day. Less flies and mosquitoes?happier, healthier horses!

To lower your carbon footprint, schedule annual veterinary visits as a group. Ask other owners in your barn, or fellow horse owners up and down your street. Less driving for a veterinary truck lowers pollution and usually nets a lower cost for all the horse owners, too.

When buying dewormers, look for the bulk dosing tubes. Generally the cost is lower and only one plastic tube will be sent to the landfill or recycling center. If you don't have enough equines to use a full tube, talk to neighbors with horses. You can wipe the tube end with antibacterial wipes between horses for safety, though it is unlikely to cause a problem.

For many large pastures, electric fence is the ideal solution?inexpensive and relatively safe. Did you realize you can get a mini solar set- up to provide the fence power' That will help keep your horses safely confined all year round. Newer solar panels can use many levels of light and accumulate power even on cloudy days.

You could put a solar panel on your barn to power lights and the water pump! The possibilities are nearly endless.

Let me know what green ideas and innovations you?ve used. You can send e-mails to me at editors@horse-journal.com.