Horse Owners and Equine Industry

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Safe Environmental Habits and Procedures for: Boarding Stables, Equestrian Centers, Small Farms, and Urban Horse Owners

The Problem

Animal waste contributes to water pollution when it is improperly stored or left uncovered near small streams and storm drains. During rainfall, it is washed into storm drains and flows untreated, directly into the Truckee River.

Animal waste contains some nutrients - phosphorus and nitrogen - as well as bacteria. The nutrients fertilize the aquatic plants causing their proliferation, which depletes oxygen in the water, killing sea life. The high bacteria levels in the water can cause gastro-intestinal disorders and other medical problems for swimmers.

Sediment is also a common pollutant washed from pastures and livestock facilities. It creates multiple problems once it enters the Truckee River. It harms sea life by clogging the gills of fish, blocking light transmission and increasing the Truckee River water temperature.

Solutions

Facilities Design

  • Site barns, corrals and other high-use areas on the portion of property that drains away from the nearest creek or stream.
  • Install gutters that will divert runoff away from livestock area.
  • Design diversion terraces, which drain into areas with sufficient vegetation to filter the flow.
  • Protect manure storage facilities from rainfall and surface runoff.

Pasture Management

  • Confine animals in properly fenced areas except for exercise and grazing time.
  • Corrals, stables and barns should be located on higher ground when possible and surrounded by pasture to act as a natural filtration system.
  • Utilize fencing to keep horses away from environmentally sensitive areas and protect stream banks from contamination.
  • Use manure and soiled bedding sparingly to fertilize pastures and croplands.

Grazing Management

  • Establish healthy and vigorous pastures with at least 3 inches of leafy material present.
  • Subdivide grazing areas into three or more units of equal size.
  • Clip tall weeds and old grass to control weeds and stimulate grass regrowth.
  • Rotate animals to clean pasture when grass is grazed down to 3-4 inches.
  • Let pasture regrow to 8-10 inches before allowing regrazing.
  • Keep animals away from wet fields when possible.
  • During heavy rainfall, consider indoor feeding, a practice which keeps more manure under roof and away from runoff.

Collection and Storage

Collect soiled bedding and manure on a daily basis from stalls and paddocks and place in temporary or long-term storage units. Store in sturdy, insect resistant and seepage free units such as:

  • Plastic garbage cans with lids
  • Fly-tight wooden or concrete storage sheds
  • Composters
  • Pits or trenches lined with an impermeable layer

Use and Disposal

  • Compost soiled bedding and manure for your own use.
  • Give away composted material to local greenhouses, nurseries and botanical parks.
  • Transport manure to topsoil companies or composting centers.
  • Fertilize pastures, cropland and lawns with manure and soiled bedding. Do not apply fertilizer just before or during rainstorms.

Pesticide Alternatives

The "chemicals only" approach to pest control is only a temporary fix. Integrated Pest Management is a more common sense approach for a long-term solution. Plan your "IPM" strategy in this order:

  • Pheromone Traps
  • Tarps
  • Bug Zappers
  • Fly-Tight Storage Sheds

Chemical Controls - Your Last Resort

Use these least-toxic products:

  • Pyrethrin-based insecticides
  • Dehydrating dusts (e.g. silica gel)
  • Insecticidal soaps
  • Horticultural oils

Rinse empty pesticide containers and treat the rinse water as you would the product.
Dispose of empty containers in the trash.

Dumping toxins into the street, gutter or storm drain is illegal!

Non-recyclable materials must be taken to an appropriate landfill or disposed of as hazardous waste. For disposal instructions, call the Nevada Small Business Development Center, Business Environmental Program at 1-800-882-3233.