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Many horse owners use the spring to finally clean out their tack locker. Everything is taken out, textiles are washed, and leather equipment is freed from dust and sometimes mold from the winter, allowing you to enjoy beautiful days out on horseback again.

But while finally seeing their happy horses out on the pasture for the first time after the long winter period, many of them completely forget about cleaning out their feed room as well—where spilled feed in the corners can become extremely unappetizing during the warm summer months.

Clear out everything

Now is the time to use a nice sunny day to clear out all the bins, sacks, buckets, and whatever else has accumulated.

You wouldn’t believe what piles up behind them over the winter! All corners of the feed room should be thoroughly scrubbed. This reduces mold growth, and the feed is stored more hygienically.

You also clean your kitchen from time to time… In addition, feed should always be placed in tightly closed containers, such as buckets with lids, feed bins, or tightly sealable plastic containers.

You can then wipe down all the buckets and bins with a wet cloth before putting them back. The stable dust that settles here contains many mold spores that promote the spoilage of animal feed.

Control pests in good time

Important: Combat pests promptly. © Adobe Stock / Paul

When clearing out, you often discover mice nests in the pile of rubbish behind the door or gnawed-up sacks. Sometimes, you may even discover a whole nest of mice, including freshly born babies, inside or behind an open bag of mash that seems untouched for a very long time.

If you find gnawed holes in plastic bins, this may be an indication of rats in the stable. It is highly recommended to take action against this.

While a cat in the stable can help keep the plague of mice at bay, you may need to bring out the ‘big guns’ for rats. The traditional Jack Russell terriers, originally bred for this purpose, are well-suited to the task and could be allowed to roam freely in the stable at night. Alternatively, specialised rat traps can be deployed.

When using rat poison, please ensure it is placed in special bait boxes to prevent consumption by other stable inhabitants.

Sorting out expired feed

Feed rooms often serve as the ultimate treasure troves of feed, housing even products that are no longer on the market.

You don’t have to adhere strictly to best-before dates, but there’s a good reason for their presence.

Because all feed, apart from salt licks, spoils at some point. Especially when it comes to mixed feed with grain content, as well as feed containing oils, proteins, vitamins, etc., it will all go bad at some point.

Now is a good time to dispose of the feed that has been expired for over a year.

For this reason, always include the label when transferring feed into solid and sealable containers.

It not only contains important information about the ingredients but also the best-before date.

Grain seeds
Always include the label when transferring feed into solid and sealable containers. © Adobe Stock /

Do I still need this?

The best-before date isn’t the only factor to consider when disposing of old feed. Often, you’ve bought something for your horse’s coat, hooves, airways, or who-knows-what-else? Is the horse for which this was bought still in the stable?

And you will almost certainly buy a new product anyway if the same problem occurs again. So when you’re putting everything back in the feed room, ask yourself the critical question: ‘Do I actually still need this?’

If not, it can go straight into the rubbish bin. All a healthy horse really needs is plenty of good hay, some straw or twigs to nibble on, a good mineral feed, and a salt lick – and perhaps a small reward or a handful of concentrated feed after work.

Therapeutic feeds, especially herbal mixtures, lose their efficacy at some point during storage.

Buying new ones when needed is often more effective than using the bag that has been lying around in the drawer for years.

Scrub not only the feed room, but also troughs and buckets!

Once the feed room is gleaming once more and everything is neatly organised, there’s just one last thing to do: the feed troughs. Regardless of whether the horse has a permanently mounted trough in the stable or whether you feed from rubber buckets, hanging buckets, or other constructions, these also need to be cleaned properly on a regular basis.

It’s easy if you only feed hay anyway. With oats or crushed barley, the effort is also limited.

However, with mash, beet pulp, or hay cobs residues, the crusts sometimes have to be soaked laboriously first, or you can use a steam jet to remove feed residues from the stable walls.

It is important to remove the old crusts regularly, as this is where germs tend to colonise, which can then be harmful to the horse.

And once you’ve done all that, there’s nothing to stop you from going for a ride!

More on this topic: 9 Productive Activities for Rainy Days at the Stables or 10 Good New Year’s Resolutions for the Daily Horse Chaos