Keeping a clean barn: 5 things to do

The alpacas and chickens love the barn, especially when the ceiling fans are on during a hot day.  They lounge on the dirt floor and enjoy the cool  Hopefully you are keeping the barn clean for them. 

Here are 5 things to do  to help keep it that way.

1.  Remove any manure (in my case, alpacas) daily.  They usually don’t go in the barn, but a stretch of rainy weather made them decide to use the barn for their bathroom.  While I try to retrain them to go outside ALL the time, I am scooping the poop up daily, sometimes twice a day, so they will see the error of their ways.  I scoop into empty 5 gallon buckets that are not used for anything else.  Then when I get several full buckets, I put them in my garden wagon and haul them over to the house yard, fill any holes or low spots in the yard, and empty any remains around trees or shrubs. Alpaca poo will not burn the plants and does not need to be composted first.

2.  Use Stall Dry on cleaned manure piles to keep down flies and insects.  This item is almost priceless to me in the barn.  It sops up the wet areas and has a deodorizer in it too, it eliminates the manure smell like magic.  I also use it in the chicken coops, lightly sprinkling it on top of the litter to absorb moisture and odors and eliminate the insects.

3.  Scrub water buckets and feed bins, weekly if not daily.  It helps keep the old feed cleaned up and the water will be cleaner for the animals.  Use a mixture of water with a     little  bleach mixed in the scrub and then rinse thoroughly before refilling.  This goes for the alpaca’s water and the chicken’s water.

4.  Keep feed and hay neatly stored and covered to keep dry.  I keep bags of alpaca and chicken feed in old pinholed bottom stock tanks that can’t hold water, but don’t have any holes that a mouse can get through, and they can’t climb up the slick exterior. One is a long, oval like this http://www.tractorsupply.com/livestock-equipment/stock-tanks/round-end-tank-2-x-1-x-6-ft-2168715

Tthe other is a small round one about 3’x 3′ tall.    Also be aware that mice will jump from one place to another, i.e., from haybales into the feed pellet storage.  Eliminate any possible “stair steps” allowing mice into the feed.  Keep high profile items a good distance from the feed. A plywood cover anchored on top of the trough will also help and also keep any stray animals from getting into the feed pellets and getting sick from overeating.

5.  Eliminate any rodent nesting areas.  I rotate some of the things sitting on the floor so they will move on.  The chickens and guineas may also be helping to keep them from nesting.  We don’t have a barn cat, but these would be good to have.  Don’t feed the cat; a hungry cat will be a happy hunter. 

I had on my “to do” list a project of kind of reorganizing the storage area of the barn and just finished it in a couple hours.  It is much more refreshing to walk in and know that I made an improvement in the look and feel of the area and how much nicer it is to linger there with the animals.

So, clean up the barn this week, and enjoy your animals and your Fall.

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