Housing, Bedding, and Pasture (Book Excerpt)

Stabling, pasturing, bedding, and other aspects of a horse’s living environment have major implications on the potential for health problems.
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Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Understanding Equine Preventive Medicine by Bradford G. Bentz, VMD. 

Stabling, pasturing, bedding, and other aspects of a horse’s living environment have major implications on the potential for health problems.

With the domestication of horses, we have imposed the need to house large numbers of animals in one or a group of barns or other facilities that permit easier care while minimizing our discomfort and exposure to the elements. While helpful for the caretaker, this has brought new problems and health concerns for horses in this situation.

Two major problems with stabling horses in barns are generally poor ventilation and a high concentration of animals for disease communication.  A barn intended to stable horses should be designed with ventilation in mind. At least eight complete air changes should take place each hour in a stable if good-quality bedding and hay are used.  (The volume of air equal to the volume of the barn enters the barn and leaves it eight times per hour with good ventilation.) This is necessary to help minimize dissemination of aerosol-spread diseases and to minimize exposure to air irritants and allergens

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Written by:

Brad Bentz, VMD, Dipl. ACVIM, ABVP, ACVECC, owns Bluegrass Equine Performance and Internal Medicine in Lexington, Ky., where he specializes in advanced internal medicine and critical care focused on helping equine patients recuperate at home. He’s authored numerous books, articles, and papers about horse health and currently serves as commission veterinarian for the Kentucky State Racing Commission.

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