How To Develop a Horse Barn Management Plan
Have you always dreamed of managing your own barn? Do you currently manage your own small horse farm or boarding facility? If so, do you have a barn management plan in place? Whether you have a barn for business or pleasure, the key to a well-run barn is a comprehensive barn management plan.
In a perfect world, a barn management plan would be in place prior to the first hooves stepping on your property. Luckily it's never too late to improve your barn's management practices. Remember, the better managed your barn is, the healthier and happier all horses and humans involved will be. A barn management plan should cover the following items:
Horses Come First
If you are managing a barn, you are responsible for the care of the horses on your property 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Their health and welfare must be your first area of concern at all times. If you have boarders, maintain an open line of communication on all aspects of their horse's welfare.
Importance of Routine
Use your management plan to develop a schedule for all aspects of your barn. There should be a routine in how you run your barn on a daily basis starting with when you hay, feed and water your horses. From there, build in stall cleaning and turnout schedules. Not only will a routine help you layout your chores for the day, but it will make for happier horses. Horses, like humans, are creatures of habit and thrive on a routine. They really appreciate being fed at the same time every day.
Develop a record keeping system for all horses in your care and custody. A simple solution is a binder that includes all pertinent information about each horse: vet slips, Coggins, shoeing record, feed information, insurance information, etc.
Remember there is not a one size fit all solution for what to feed all horses at your barn. When a new horse enters your barn consider his individualized nutrition needs. Not sure what is the best feed for each horse? As always, your local Southern States store can help create an individualized feed plan for your barn.
Clean water must be available 100% of the time. Create a water bucket and water trough cleaning schedule.
The average horse produces 50 pounds of manure a day, therefore a proper manure management plan is essential. Not only must the stalls be picked throughout the day, but you also need a plan to deal with manure in your pastures and its disposal. Removing manure from your barn with help reduce your pest population.
Creating a grazing program with rotation schedule allows your pastures to thrive. Avoid overstocking your pastures, remember the rule "eat half, keep half" when it comes to grass.
No one likes a messy barn. On a daily basis, clean up your feed room floor and barn aisles, in addition to your routine stall cleaning. Cleanliness and sanitation will help limit the number of rodents and pests that inhabit your barn. Removing cobwebs, hay and other debris will help eliminate fire hazards strewn about the facility.
Tack and Supply Storage
Make sure you have a clean, dry area set aside to store tack. Nothing is worse than finding moldy leather after you clean it. During the hot, humid summer months, investing in a small dehumidifier for your tack room is a good idea. Also store grooming and first aid items for horse and human in a location where they are easily accessible.
Farm Machinery Maintenance
Running a barn is no easy task, sometimes it hard to remember what piece of equipment was last serviced. Create a spreadsheet that lists all equipment, notable repairs and scheduled maintenance. Likewise, use the same methodology to track when fence/stall/premises repairs and inspections should take place.
If you employ workers at your facility, make sure they are aware and follow your barn's policies and procedures. This applies to all aspects of horse and facility care.
Things can get hectic anytime horses are involved. However, if you have developed a barn management plan and apply the fundamentals of the plan on a regular basis your barn will run like a well oiled machine. Find out what works best for your situation and incorporate it into your daily routine. Let us know what your top management tips are!