- Temperature. Every barn needs good ventilation, even in winter when some people tend to want it closed up for warmth. “If the barn has very many horses in it, the temperature will always be warmer in the barn than outdoors, just from the body heat of the horses. In winter it’s generally at least 5 to 6 degrees warmer in the barn than outside,” says Dr. Bob Coleman (State Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky).
- Fans. In summer you might want fans in the stalls. Fans be helpful but need to be high. “You might want them situated so they are blowing air down on the horse, and moving a lot of air—with a wide pattern of air distribution. The main thing is to have openings in the eves for fresh air to come in. You need air circulating and a way to exchange air. Using a fan with the doors all shut is not ventilating; there is no fresh air and you are simply creating a breeze. Make sure the eves can be open. In many cases people make the roof like they would on a house, with soffits and a few holes, but this is not enough airflow for a barn. You need those soffits completely open, but with some kind of netting over them to keep birds from coming into the barn.”
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- Cupulas. You need a ridge vent, or cupulas, but these must be structured so air can leave. “Some barns have cupulas that are very aesthetically appealing but they are not open, and are not doing anything because they are solid,” says Coleman.
You can get the kind that can be opened or closed. “Some people put fans in the cupulas so they are actually sucking air out of the barn. There are many different things you can do, but it may depend on the way your barn is situated. If it is located where it catches the prevailing wind it may provide some natural ventilation, and in summer this can make a big difference in how hot or cool the barn might get.
- Too cold? If those are as open as possible, the overall environment in the barn will be much better. If you are concerned about having it too cold in the barn, use horse blankets. Most horses won’t need blankets, however, unless you want to keep their hair coat less woolly for winter. “Horses that are clipped probably do need protection from the cold, but if they are not clipped they are usually warm enough; you might just use a light blanket to help keep them clean. Keeping them warm will not keep them from growing hair. As the days start to shorten in September, horses start growing winter hair, even if they are in a barn or blanketed,” he explains.