Now is the time of year when wildlife starts to find its way into your barn. And while squirrels, mice, and birds might be enjoyable while they’re outside, when they come into your barn they become less enjoyable and possibly even a health hazard. These tips can help you keep unwanted wildlife out of your barn this winter.Keep the Barn Clean
Strive to maintain a clean, swept barn aisle which is free of clutter, like tack boxes and equipment. Keep the doors to your tack room and feed room securely closed, limiting the hiding spaces that are available to animals.
Keep Feed Properly Stored
Wildlife will be attracted to your feed room due to the delicious smells of your horse feed. Make sure that you keep all feed properly stored in secure, rodent-proof feed bins and containers. Additionally, sweep up the feed room on a daily basis so that spilled feed is not left behind. The feed room is also a good spot to lay traps for mice.
Consider Getting a Barn Cat
A barn cat can be an excellent defense against rodents in your barn. When you get a new barn cat, you will need to keep the cat in a secure room for about a month so that he learns that the barn is his home and doesn’t immediately stray off. For extra rodent defense, consider getting more than one barn cat.
Some humane societies or cat adoption centers have pictures and histories of cats available for adoption. Look for cats who are marked as “barn cat only.” These cats already know the ropes of rodent housekeeping.
Sometimes cats seem to know that your barn is one that could use a cat and will just move in on their own – these are known as feral cats. It’s great to help these “homeless” as well as getting a free cat but take the time to get them neutered. They can be hard to catch, but there are feral cat associations who can give you help and often provide low cost neutering. You don’t want your barn to be free of rodents but overflowing with kittens.
Install An Owl House
If you live in “owl country,” consider installing an owl house near your barn. Owls like to build nests in trees with great views of open land (where mice often hand out). If you don’t have a tree handy, install an owl house on your property. Owls are great mouse removers and, whatever get away from the cats, will usually be scooped up by an owl.
Keep Stalls Clean
Make an effort to clean your horse’s stall first thing in the morning. Sweep up any loose shavings and pick up any discarded hay or grain. Keeping stalls clean leaves less feed around to attract wildlife.
Use Horse Feeders
Spilled feed attracts animals, so try to minimize the amount of feed left behind in your horse’s stall. A horse feeder can reduce the amount of feed that your horse spills by providing him with a larger area to eat over. Try to avoid ever feeding your horse from the floor while in his stall.
Opt for Secure Barn End Doors
Check your barn doors to make sure they are appropriately sized, and they close completely. – this will also be important as winter sets in and you need to keep snowstorms out.
Keeping wildlife out of your barn during this time of year can take some effort but will result in a healthier atmosphere for both humans and horses!