Benefits of using lime in horse stalls

by horselover2

During the cold winter months, barn owners keep their barn doors closed to keep the barn warm. While necessary in many northern states, less ventilation causes the level of ammonia to quickly build up in the air.

Ammonia comes from urea, which is present in horse urine and manure. Although urea is odorless and non-toxic, once it’s converted to ammonia it becomes dangerous to horses.  Continual exposure to high levels of ammonia can cause thrush, and respiratory problems from chronic irritation of the airways.

One solution is to use crushed or ground lime under the bedding in the horse’s stall. It absorbs odors and soaks up moisture.  However, lime can be caustic, so you should cover it with bedding and not leave it exposed. Your horse shouldn’t stand directly on ground lime or get it on its skin.


Additional tips to help reduce ammonia levels:

* Remove manure and wet bedding from the horse stalls at least once a day. Strip the stall where the wet areas are so the rubber mats can dry and air out.

* Provide proper barn ventilation, such as slotted inlets at eaves that are open year-round, and avoid closing up the barn when possible.

* Keep fans running properly in the barn to pull in clean air and push out contaminated air.

* Apply an ammonia-absorbing compound, like lime, to wet spots in the stall to decrease the ammonia.

* Consider using different types of bedding to reduce the amount of ammonia.  Straw, wood shavings, hemp, paper and flax each have varying levels of urine absorption and ammonia odor control as well as comfort and health properties. Straw and wood shavings can be dusty depending on the quality of the bedding. Flax, hemp and paper have less dust but aren’t as comfortable.

* Don’t forget the trailer,  hauling horses can create a similar high ammonia level environment. Trailer doors and windows should be left open once you get to the track or show grounds to let the trailer air out.