It’s an undisputed fact; rats, mice, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, birds, and—yes, even mosquitoes, 

love to make their quarters in and around horse barns. The conditions are perfect; a never ending food supply, abundant water, and a cozy shelter.  

Even an innocent looking field mouse poses a threat to your horses. That little whiskered dude has the potential to contaminate your horse’s feed,  carry  ticks , and wreak havoc on expensive tack and electrical wiring. Mosquitoes and ticks  carry a wide variety of  vector-borne diseases to horses and humans and even birds can spread salmonella. 

The secret to keeping pests out of your barn is in prevention; to make it as unappealing to rodents and flying insects as possible. It’s sort of like that seedy motel you find just off the interstate. Sure, it’s late and you’re tired, but on second thoughts…you’re not that tired. You keep driving, hoping you’ll find a more habitable place. 

That’s what you want potential pests to think when it comes to your barn. Here are 3-steps to spring pest control:

Step One: Take down the All Night Buffet Sign. 

  • Remove all sources of food and water. That means making a clean sweep of the barn aisle at least once daily. Sweep up bits of grain after every feeding. Mice and barn rats are as strong as Arnold Schwarzenegger when it comes to breaking into grain bins. They’re small, but mighty. To make sure they don’t pop the lids off, secure grain in galvanized and locked bins. If you have a resident barn cat, don’t leave free choice feed down for him.  Putting down a bowl full of cat food is like hanging out an All Night Buffet sign for rodents. 
  • Put a lid on clutter. Remove bits and pieces from open shelving and windowsills which serve to give rodents places to hide. Instead, invest in cabinets with doors that secure. Outside the barn, avoid stacking lumber or other items against the exterior walls. 
  • Mosquitoes love watering holes. Consider switching  your outdated trough with a  Post Waterer, a non-electric , frost-free waterer that eliminates your standing water issue and makes watering horses easy in all seasons. 

Step Two: Don’t wait until the weekend. 

  • If you suspect you have a problem, you probably do. Waiting just a few days can get you into a heap of trouble. If you see rounded holes in dirt foundations, droppings, or signs of chew damage, you have a rodent problem and rodents reproduce at an astonishing rate. 
  • Consider the services of an exterminator.  A good exterminator with agricultural experience will know how to keep your horses safe. Poison packets and rodent traps are messy, dangerous to other animals, and largely ineffective.  

Step Three: Stir things up.  

  • Just keeping the air moving will help to keep mosquitoes and flies at bay. They’re tough, but flies and mosquitoes find it hard to fly in a stiff breeze. Keep the air moving with barn fans. Choose from basket style fans made specifically for the agricultural environment or soothing ceiling fans. 
  • Consider an environmentally friendly, biodegradable  Fly and Mosquito Control System to eliminate insects inside the barn. 

Do you have any pest control tips? Share your ideas with the rest of us in the comments section. 


Karen Elizabeth Baril writes for both regional and national publications, including EQUUS Magazine, The Equine Journal,, and Animal Wellness. Follow her at or on Linked In.

Karen Elizabeth Baril

Karen Elizabeth Baril all sorts of subjects, including equine and animal wellness, the writing life, motherhood, marriage, and what it’s like to be a woman in the 21st century. You can find out more about Karen on her website.