Ventilation: Fresh, Healthy Stables

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I wanted to share an oldie but goodie – an article I wrote originally for Western Horseman Magazine about designing for natural ventilation within your barn. This stuff is the bread and butter of our design, in that no matter where a barn is located, or what a client’s budget may be, healthy and natural ventilation within the stables is our priority. Read the article, Breath of Fresh Air, and let me know what you think.

From our first barns at Heronwood Farm in 1983, designing for healthy ventilation remains our top priority.

Posted in Equestrian News |

2 responses to “Ventilation: Fresh, Healthy Stables”

  1. CHG says:

    You know, when I first moved into my barn, a little private barn in Clifton, I heard that they never closed the doors or windows, even in winter. While I wouldn’t call the barn drafty, I would definitely say it is well-ventilated!

    Of course, I’m not going to know the correct architectural term but where the roof meets the sides of the barn, there is also a small gap to encourage ventilation. It never dawned on me that closing doors with horses in for lengths of time in winter or early spring could create condensation that in turn rots boards and hardware in barns!

    And the particulate matter that flys around barns – it is off the charts. Especially if staff use leaf blowers. I have heard some barns won’t use them at all and have gone back to using brooms for the specific reason that the leaf blowers stir up way too much dirt and dust for horses to inhale, even if the horses are out when the machine is in operation.

    I can honestly say, due to the wonderful ventilation in our barn, I never EVER hear any of our horses coughing. And, best I can tell, the barn seems perfectly sound and dry.

    I don’t think owners know enough about the importance of ventilation and should definitely read your articles!

  2. CHG,

    Thanks for your input on our blog and my compliments to your blog as well – it’s a fun read. Glad you recognize the importance of good ventilation in the barn – I think more horse owners should appreciate that.

    Natural ventilation has been a centerpiece of my design philosophy for almost 30 years. I think the barn should always ventilate but the horse should not be left in a draft unprotected. Horses give off a tremendous amount of humidity, and if the barn does not ventilate – even in winter – that humidity, which carries harmful bacteria, will stay in the barn and spread disease to other horses and breed additional bacteria. That is why the open area at the top of your stall wall at the eave of the roof is a good means to ventilate the barn, though it should also have a way out at the top of the roof.

    Incidentally, I always discourage the use of blowers around barns. The same can be true of the vaccuum cleaner. Though the vaccuum is sucking up the dirt, it is often exhausting bacteria out the other end. Not only does it clog the air with dust, which is bad for the horses’ respiratory system, it also stirs up and spreads pathogens and other bacteria harmful to horses.

    I hope you continue to enjoy your horse and your barn. Stay in touch and let us know if we can provide any advice or assistance.


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