With mosquito season around the corner it may be prudent to consider how you can protect your horse barn from bird infestation. While we may not mind the presence of sparrows or finches nesting in barn rafters, or pigeons flying around the indoor arena, unfortunately breeding sites for birds do pose a threat to horse health. Birds and barns go together like bats and belfries. The presence of nesting birds, along with the mess of their droppings and unwanted decoration of walls and walkways, can drive some barn owners mad.
Diseases such as West Nile are not directly transmitted from infected birds to horses. The virus is transmitted when a mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected bird, then feeds on a horse. The prevalence of West Nile in the avian community across 250 plus species has caused some States to relinquish their suggestions for bringing dead birds in for disease testing at government centers for disease control.
Hopefully you have vaccinated your horses for West Nile and the myriad of mosquito transmitted diseases. As humans we have not received such vaccinations and remain at risk for disease via mosquito bites.
Sanitation issues from bird droppings can pose other health problems for horse and humans too, including Salmonella, botulism, candidiasis and histoplasmosis (fungal infections) and even streptococcal infections.
Due to these possible health issues for your horses the AAEP recommends all birds (including chickens) should not be located in or close to a stable. Although AAEP admits that chickens can be beneficial in the horse’s environment. When chickens spread horse manure as they look for food, infective roundworm eggs can be exposed to the sun and other elements resulting in their death. This protects the horse from the risk of ingesting infective larvae.
With all this being said, just how can you keep birds from nesting in the barn rafters?
Unfortunately, there is no full-proof method but there are several things you can do to minimize their presence.
Start with Smart Barn Construction
Soffits and eaves of a barn can be protected from becoming exits and entryways for birds with the addition of a simple wire barrier. This means, at least when the doors and windows are sealed, the building can be protected from bird invasion.
Windows should always be screened to protect the horse from mosquitoes and other insects and this will also serve as a barrier to avians.
Doorways can be fitted with long plastic strips that will allow human and horse foot traffic while providing a soft barrier to birds. Naturally your horses will need to learn how to happily navigate the strips but with the right introduction most horses can be trained to accept their addition to the structure.
The sill at the top of the wall (top plate) where the rafters sit and where birds love to nest, may be fitted with a board to facilitate a literal catwalk so your feline friend can hunt down birds on sight. Some folks advocate laying sticky tape on top of surfaces where birds like to nest to put them off setting up house. Personally I think this is inefficient as at best it will quickly dust and become ineffective and at worst you’ll have small vermin stuck to it which may pose a health issue from botulism as their carcasses decay.
You will not be able to completely stop the presence of birds in the vicinity of the barn, as weathervanes and cupolas are perfect perching spots. However, you can protect your gutters and roof edges from a parade of pigeons setting up as ‘soldiers in rank’ with simple anti-perching, anti-roosting bird spikes. Made of bendable plastic or stainless steel, these spikes humanely deny pesky birds a place to land as they have blunt tips.
Don’t Rest When You Spot A Nest
Stay vigilant during the Spring and Summer nesting months and take down any signs of nest building as soon as you see them. If you take the trouble to ascertain the species of bird you are dealing with it is simple to do some research to learn its specific nesting patterns. It is much kinder to remove the nest during its construction phase than be faced with turning eggs and chicks out of their homes later. Removal may be required multiple times before the nesting pair give up the site, especially if it has been utilized previously as desirable avian real estate.
Get a Cat
A cat may or may not hunt, however hungry it may become. While cats are common pets and wander around in the horse-housing environment, some cats have little interest in actually catching vermin or birds. However, their particular patience combined with stealth and playful chasing can deter many birds from taking up residence in the rafters. If you are allergic to cats then sadly this may not be an option.
Toy with Plastic Owls and Windmills or Spin a DVD
Any natural predator present in the barn will be off-putting to the nesting bird. Large plastic owls available at farm supply shops can be hung or placed around the barn and may deter the more skittish species of avian. It is wise to move the owls regularly for maximum terrorizing effect as otherwise the birds will become accustomed to them and not take them seriously.
In gardening you often see toy plastic windmills set in groups in the vegetable patch to deter damaging bird traffic from lunching on the growing produce. The shiny surfaces, bright colors and noise when whirring can deter birds, as can the vision of a light catcher in the form of a DVD hung from a string catching the light as the wind spins it around.
As birds can pose such health risks to our horses it is best to take precautions to minimize their presence in your barn or building. If you are considering a new barn build ask your construction professional for advice on costs and installation of bird barrier methods throughout the structure. It’s a lot easier to do now than later!
PLEASE NOTE: This article is available for use in its entirety without edit, in any media format on condition that credit is given to Horizon Structures Inc., and author Nikki Alvin-Smith as a byline at the beginning of the article publication and Horizon Structures URL address and Nikki Alvin-Smith URL is included. Horizon would appreciate notification of any publication. Kindly contact Horizon Structures for photos to accompany the article.
This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen PA – Modular horse barn and indoor riding arena specialists. Horizon Structures also offers both residential and commercial kennels, coops, multi-use structures and playsets. Please visit https://www.HorizonStructures.com to learn more.
About Horizon Structures: One horse or twenty, there's one thing all horse owners have in common...the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart "horse-friendly" design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses' stabling needs.
All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need -
Horizon Structures also sells indoor riding arenas, chicken coops, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures.
Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com
Horizon Structures LLC, Atglen, PA
Tel: 888 447 4337
Photos are available on request.
About Nikki Alvin-Smith: International and national published freelance writer and photographer in such world renowned publications such as The Chronicle of the Horse, Horse and Hound, Dressage and CT, Warmbloods Today, The Horseman’s Yankee Pedlar, Reiter, The Equine Journal, Spur, Hoofprints, Horsin’ Around, Horses All, Field & Stream, Western Horse and Gun, Pony Quarterly, Horses All Canada, Catskill Horse to name a few. Ghostwriting, blog services, PR/Marketing copy either direct with manufacturer or for agencies, copy editing and editor services also available. Nikki also produces catalog copy, white papers, e-books, corporate brochures and advertising copy for international corporations and PR/Marketing for celebrities.
As a Brit who has called the America home for the past 34 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to the equestrian world. Nikki is also an accomplished Grand Prix dressage trainer/competitor, competing at international Grand Prix level to scores over 72% and is a highly sought clinician offering clinics worldwide. She has been a horse breeder/importer of warmblood and Baroque breeds for more than 25 years. Together with her husband Paul who is also a Grand Prix trainer, they run Willowview Hill Farm, a private dressage breeding operation and training yard in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.
AHP has not verified the factual statements in any message and AHP assumes no responsibility for the contents of, or any damage resulting from, any communication in the Newsgroup. Publication in the Newsgroup is not an endorsement by the organization of any product, person, or policy.