In Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh's barn, the couple's organization skills are evident around every corner. The feed room is no exception.
As Cherry and Richard point out, whenever possible the feed should be kept in a separate, secure room. Across the barn aisle from their tack room, and within handy distance to their stalls, the feed room has a solid hinged door that fits tightly enough that mice and other rodents can't wiggle their way in.
(Richard's tip for the tack room door is also appropriate here: If there's a gap between the floor and the bottom of the door, tack or nail a rubber strip along the bottom of the door so that it sweeps along just above the floor, and provides a rodent-proof seal at the threshold).
Make sure that whatever latch you use for securing the door, it's one that your horse's lips can't flip, wiggle or somehow open. If you don't have a separate feed room, the same goes for the container you use: make it rodent and horse-proof (and waterproof).
In Cherry and Richard's feed room, grain bins and garbage cans keep feed secure and fresh. They also added a large counter, shelves and storage units for other items:
- A wide counter at one end offers a work surface where they can mix supplements, measure rations and place buckets.
- A scale makes sure that rations and supplements are measured accurately.
- A dry-erase board near or above the counter provides clear instructions on each horse's ration.
- A cabinet with secure doors (purchased at an industrial-supply store, thrift shop or office supply store) provides additional storage space for overflow blankets, out-of-season items or small supplement items.
- Some feed containers are set on low platforms to minimize the amount of bending needed to scoop out rations.
- Wooden pallets help keep grain bags off the ground to minimize mold--an important consideration if you don't have a concrete floor or if you live in a humid climate.
Other feed storage tips:
- When emptying a new bag of grain into a bin, be sure to scoop or dump the last of the old grain out into another bin or bucket. Once you've refilled the bin with fresh grain, put the remainder grain on top to use first. Or, look for a feed hopper that allows you to access grain from the bottom and pour new feed in from the top.
- Try using an old chest freezer for grain storage. Remove any locks or hardware that could trap a child, and take off the cord for safety.
- Search online for feed bins that will fit your needs and your budget. Some offer wheelbarrow-type bins that allow you to cart your grain from stall to stall, then store it back in the feed room.
- If you feed different types of grain, look for a bin with dividers, or place recycling bins inside a large bin to compartmentalize it.
- If you choose to build a bin out of wood, line it to prevent splinters and wood bits from getting into the grain.
Don't forget to take a tour of Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh's expertly organized tack room in the May 2006 issue of Horse & Rider!