Horses require fresh feed to stay healthy. Most owners are very diligent concerning the proper mix for a horse’s diet. Moldy or contaminated feed may result in a sick horse and costly veterinarian bills. The following four storage tips should result in wholesome and nourishing horse feed.
- Proper storage will prevent mold and other organisms that can make a horse sick. The storage bins should prevent the feed from soil contact. The bins should be kept in a cool and non-humid site. Horses have keen senses and may sometimes refuse feed that appears fresh to humans. While it is possible that the mill has altered the recipe, the owner may wish to have the feed checked or replace suspicious feed. Purchasing only a two to three week supply of food at a time is a good practice for maintaining quality feed, free of mold.
- Grain should only be purchased from a reliable feed mill. Investigate the reputation of feed mills by asking other horse owners about his/her experience with the mill. Respectable mills will check the grain for mold and properly dispose of moldy grain. Owners may be assured of fresh grain by purchasing feed from a trustworthy mill.
- Feed bins and hay storage areas should be maintained free of rats. Rat feces may transmit salmonellosis, which may cause colic and diarrhea. The urine of rats may result in leptospirosis or moon blindness. The horse may become sensitive to light and develop some cloudiness of the eyes. Horses may develop trichinosis from eating feed infected by a rat carcass. Rats may transport fleas, lice and ticks into the barn.
- Owners should schedule regular cleaning of feed buckets and feed storage bins. Uneaten feed should be discarded from feed buckets. Damp feed is a breeding ground for mold. Thoroughly scrub feed bucket or bin with a small amount of laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid. Be sure to remove all soap from the bucket or storage bin by rinsing well. A commercial sanitizer may be necessary from time to time. Allow the buckets or storage bins to dry in the sun. Ultraviolet light from the sun will help kill some bacteria.
*Photo courtesy of Feed Stock 1890's Style by Joe at Flickr’s Creative Commons.
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