Fall has flown by, and winter is coming quickly to Pennsylvania. Cold temperatures, ice, snow, and mud can make horsekeeping hard, but preparing your PA horse farm before bad weather hits can help make the cold, dark days of winter pass with a little more ease.
Making sure you have enough hay stockpiled in your barn is the first step to preparing for cold-weather horse management. Store hay in a building separate from where horses live if possible for fire safety, and be sure that your hay is dry before stacking it for winter storage. Hay should be the best quality you can find – look for hay that is soft, green in color, fresh smelling, and clean, with a high leaf-to-stem ratio. This means that the grass was harvested while still young, which provides the most nutrients for your horses. Since hay will make up the bulk of your equines’ diet over the winter, stockpiling high quality hay is important.
While your horses are munching on all of that hay you’ve carefully selected and stored in your barn, it’s important to give your pastures and paddocks a rest over the winter. During the winter, grasses are dormant and stop growing. If horses are allowed to over-graze on dormant pastures, they can rip the plants out by the roots, making it impossible for the grass to recover and grow back strong in the spring. Heavy hoof-traffic on wet or frozen pastures also damages the top layer of soil, resulting in poor growth once the weather warms up. You can preserve your lush pastures by designating a dry lot or sacrifice area where horses will live in the winter months, keeping your grass safe and healthy and ready to grow back in the spring.
One drawback to utilizing a sacrifice area, however, is the mud! Thankfully, there are lots of ways to reduce or even eliminate mud in your runs and dry lots. Short-term solutions include scraping off the top layer of dirt and laying down a material like screenings, crushed stone, or wood chips. However, since the mud-stopping top layer is in direct contact with the soil beneath, it will eventually become mixed in with the dirt and mud will return.
A more permanent way to deal with muddy sacrifice areas is to first lay down a layer of geotextile fabric before installing the top layer of weatherproof footing. This prevents your stone, pea gravel, or other footing from sinking into the mud below and will maintain a weatherproof paddock for years to come.
With some foresight and planning, winter doesn’t have to be so hard on your PA horse farm!
Eastern PA Horse Property Specialists – Call Us Today! ( 610) 849-1790
Our extensive knowledge of the eastern PA horse properties for sale market allows us to guide our clients intelligently. Whether you are looking to buy, sell or invest, we have one mission – to provide you with exceptional customer service throughout the entire transaction. We assist buyers and sellers within the following eastern Pennsylvania counties:
- Berks County PA equestrian properties
- Bucks County PA equestrian properties
- Carbon County PA equestrian properties
- Chester County PA equestrian properties
- Lehigh County PA equestrian properties
- Northampton PA equestrian properties
- Poconos PA equestrian properties
- Schulykill PA equestrian properties
For sellers, we also offer property evaluations and have acquired the knowledge over the years of how to effectively perform an accurate market analysis of PA horse farms for sale, general farms and PA back yard horse properties. Please give us a call today or fill out our online contact form and let us know how we can best assist you with your eastern PA horse property real estate needs!
Cindy Stys, Broker/owner
The Premier Equine Realty Firm Serving Eastern PA
720 Smith Hill Rd
Stroudsburg, PA 18360