Could Mold In Your Barn Be Hurting Your Horse?

If you're a horse owner, you likely know all about the dangers of feeding moldy hay or feed and the terrible impact it can have on your animal's health. But did you know that housing your horse in a barn contaminated with mold can also have serious health effects?

Health Impact of Mold on Horses

Horses can develop diseases from being exposed to molds and mildews. One particularly harmful type of mold, called Stachybotrys or toxic black mold, impacted horses before humans knew of its issues. 

In the 1930s in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe, horses began to die of an unknown disease that caused immune system issues, bleeding, infection and eventually, nervous system disorders. Russian scientists realized in 1938 that the disease was caused by this black mold in the horse's hay and feed. When this mold is present in the environment, such as in barn where the food is stored, it can easily impact both the air and the feed with tragic consequences.

Humans can suffer similar symptoms from living in moldy areas and eating grain that contains Stachybotrys, so being in a barn with mold is dangerous for both humans and horses.

How Moldy Barns Can Lead to Moldy Food

It stands to reason that areas where toxic molds grow, such as damp barn walls, will have a higher likelihood of infecting horse feed and hay that is stored there. 

That's because of the way that mold spreads. It can grow by extending its hyphae, which look like tiny hairs, so that a small area of mold expands outward. This can happen rapidly in the right conditions. 

Even small areas of mold inside a barn can also be a problem, as in addition to growing, the molds can produce spores. These spores can become airborne and will be dormant until they encounter the right conditions to grow, such as slightly damp hay bales. You don't have to see huge moldy patches in your hay for there to be a risk of it sickening your horse.

Removing Mold From Your Tack and Barn

Molds can be highly attracted to the oils and moisture of leather, so tack rooms are where you often see it show up first. Keeping your tack room dry and clean is essential to keeping your barn free of mold growth.

If any of your tack shows signs of mold, clean it in an open area outside the barn so that any spores won't stay in the barn area. Brush it with a soft brush and then wipe lightly with white vinegar to kill any surface molds. You don't want to apply vinegar regularly, but you can do so occasionally when you spot mold. 

You can use bleach on the barn walls, floors and ceilings. Mix a solution of 3/4-cup of bleach per gallon of water, then wipe down the surfaces. Let the bleach solution sit for at least 5 minutes, then rinse it off with plain water.

If you are not able to remove mold from your barn or it is a recurring problem, or if you have had a spill or weather-related incident that has contributed to excess mold growth, contact a mold remediation company such as Central Flood Management Inc to eliminate the molds from your barn before your horses -- or you -- get sick.