Jul 11 2010
Recently reported by horsetalk.co.nz, new research has uncovered that stables reeking of urine are not only unpleasant, but they are harming the lungs of horses.
A British research project has confirmed that stabling horses results in increased exposure to environmental ammonia. That ammonia is associated with respiratory problems.
The presence of ammonia in stables, which is caused by the decomposition of horse urine and dung, has long been a concern of horse owners and yard managers. But there has been little scientific research to back up the link between respiratory problems and ammonia.
However, research that received funding from The Horse Trust has found that stabling, regardless of bedding or forage types, results in increased levels of environmental ammonia and respiratory inflammation.
The research, led by Professor Sandy Love at the University of Glasgow, studied eight yearling Welsh Mountain ponies, who were alternatively housed and grazed repeatedly for periods of three weeks.
Three times each week, a variety of substances were monitored, including dust, endotoxin and ammonia within the environment, and the level of various gases and pH of the horse’s exhaled breath.
The forage and bedding within the stables were varied to test whether this had any impact on the pony or the stable environment.
Love found that the stabling of horses resulted in increased exposure to environmental ammonia and that this was associated with an increase in the pH of the horse’s exhaled breath.
Under the study conditions, no significant differences were found in ammonia levels under the different grazing and stabling conditions.
Love was also able to confirm earlier research, that stabled horses are exposed to dust and endotoxins.
“Horse owners have long worried about the ammonia smell in stables, but there has been little scientific evidence to back this up,” Love said.
“These findings confirm that ammonia is linked to poor respiratory health, although further research is needed to confirm whether and how ammonia causes respiratory problems,” Love added.
To lower the levels of ammonia in your horses stalls and increase overall horse health, read 4 Indoor Horse Health Tips – and consider the purchase of an ammonia odor absorbent and odor blocking product such as the Stall Genie system.