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Barn Ventilation in the Cold MonthsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · January 28, 2011

As cold weather descends, horse owners worry about keeping frigid winds from whipping through their barns. And though it's tempting to keep barn air-tight to retain warmth, proper barn ventilation is key to happy and healthy horses.


Fresh air, no matter how cold, is always better for horses than warm, stale air. The warmer the air, the more likely it is to be filled with ammonia, dust, allergens, and mold, all of which can be extremely harmful to a horse's health.


“Respiratory ailments associated with lack of air exchange are universally recognized as debilitating, performance-limiting, and sometimes even fatal,” states David Preston, author of an article recently published in The Horse.


Barn designs can be modified to provide adequate exposure to air. Several different styles provide maximum air ventilation. Barns may include cupolas, gable wall vents, and other sources of continuous ridge ventilation.


Cupolas have been a hallmark of barn architecture for many years. “Our grandfathers knew the value of air movement in their barns, and this still can be an effective way to provide the ridge ventilation needed,” Preston explains. “Stall doors and windows are a poor substitute for intake ventilation. There is a tendency to close these when it is cold outside because of the direct drafts they create.”


Properly ventilated barns are important to herd health. Barn designs should allow air to enter and exit the barn at all times.

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