Horse stables should be kept cooler in winter than cow stables. The modern stable, like the modern house, is usually kept much too warm in winter. It is easier to ventilate horse stables than cow stables, since, if the introduction of an abundance of fresh air does lower the temperature to or even below the freezing point at times, no harm is done; provided, however, the air is admitted at many small openings. (See Blankets, Chapter XV (Judging Horses).) Large and few openings tend to produce strong and dangerous drafts. If the stable is planned similar to the diagram, Fig. 88, the horizontal ventilating-tube arrangement may be adopted as follows: Place a box of about ten inches by one foot six inches flatwise against the ceiling and over the hallway in front of the horses. The lower side of the box and about one-half of the two sides should be provided with openings, either by means of auger holes or by placing slats lengthwise one-half inch apart. Valves at the external openings serve to prevent too rapid egress of air out of the building, in windy, cold weather. The straw chute may also be used in part as a ventilator. Fig. 89.
Fig. 88. An ideal arrangement.
Fig. 89. A straw chute and ventilator combined.
The walls of the stable should not be too tight, or the moisture of the dampish air in the stable will condense on the inside walls. A damp stable is very objectionable. If not enough fresh air enters the stables through the many minute cracks of the outside wall, the window-sashes may be raised and lowered to suit the temperature and other conditions. Horses kept in cool stables are healthier, more vigorous and less likely to suffer from contagious and other diseases than are those kept in overheated stables. However, if they are not blanketed, their hair will not be so smooth, short and soft as it would be if they were kept in warm stables, - that is, those where the temperature seldom falls below 40° Fahr., and is usually between 50° and 75° Fahr. (See Blankets, Chap. XV.)
The decomposition of the excrements, especially the urine which soaks into the floor, goes on more slowly in cold than in warm stables; hence the air in cool stables is likely to be purer and better than in warm ones. Most horses are subjected to many vicissitudes of weather while at work; therefore their vigor should not be reduced, nor should their skins be made oversensitive, by being placed in stables where the temperature is so high as to weaken appetite and relax the system. (See Grooming, Chap. XV.)
The most unhealthy stables I have ever inspected were in northern New York. They were boarded inside and out with first-class matched pine lumber. The windows were few and closely fitted. In the winter, they swelled so tight, as did also the doors, that they could neither be opened nor closed readily. The box-stalls were nearly air-tight. Their inner surfaces were saturated with condensed moisture, and even large drops of water adhered to or dropped from the ceiling. In two of these barns, the ground feed was spoiling on the second floor, because of the condensed moisture and the breath of the animals in the stable. One of these barns was fitted with elaborate, expensive and highly recommended metal ventilating appliances. In both of these barns, icicles more than a foot long depended in many places from the rafters and roof-boards in winter. We have gone from the one extreme of sieve-like boarding and open floors to the other - air tight boxes. A happy medium should be adopted.
Unmatched, surfaced, vertical, outside boarding, properly battened, supplemented in cold climates with inside, unmatched but jointed covering, will be ample protection from the cold and wind, except, perhaps, in extremely exposed localities. If added protection is needed, the space between the two boardings, which may be about one foot apart, may be filled with cut straw or chaff. A dry wall, through which the air passes slowly and upon which little or no moisture will condense, is secured, and a much more satisfactory one than can be constructed with matched lumber and building-paper. In rare cases, even with such a wall, the dampness in the stable, in extreme cold weather when doors and windows are closed, may be too great. If so, cut several small openings near the floor and provide them with fine wire-screen covers and a drop-lid for closing them when they admit too much air, and place one or more ventilating tubes at right angles to the one already described above. In any case, cold air is better than over-moist air. The air can now be directed into and out of the stable without creating drafts or depositing moisture. The simplest and most direct way of managing air in stable or house is usually the most satisfactory; since the air is likely to be acted upon by pressure and counter-pressure currents, and contraction and expansion, the best planned complex system too often utterly fails. Warm air will carry more moisture than cold air. If, then, cold, dryish air be introduced into the stable near the floor, or mid-way between floor and ceiling, and is then warmed by the heat of the animals, it will take up the moisture as thrown off by respiration, and, as the air becomes warmer, it will become lighter and rise where it will find easy egress out of the stable, either at one end or one side, through the perforated box at the ceiling. At which point it escapes will depend upon the pressure or the direction of the wind. Moist and vitiated air, like house sewage, should be removed by the straightest, quickest, simplest and most direct route.