You’ve undoubtedly been assaulted by ammonia fumes in a barn. You know how foul it smells, and how your eyes and nose water and your throat closes. Imagine how the horses feel! And imagine how foals must feel — they spend a lot of time lying down in the stall, which puts them right next to the source of ammonia fumes in stalls lined with rubber stall mats!
In addition to proper ventilation, much of this ammonia gas smell can be avoided by using Stall Skins instead of rubber stall mats in the horses’ stalls. Urine pools on top of rubber horse mats, whereas with Stall Skins the urine passes through the permeable Stall Skins material into the base (such as decomposed granite) underneath — helping eliminate the ammonia odor.
Why is this critical to your horse’s health? According to Melissa Mazan, DVM at Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, ammonia gas is a severe respiratory tract irritant. “Ammonia at typical levels in barns mostly affects the horse’s upper airways,” she reports. “However, at higher concentrations ammonia bypasses the upper airways to cause lower airway inflammation and pulmonary edema. The most severe exposures with pulmonary edema have potentially fatal consequences.”
Using Stall Skins instead of rubber stall mats is a significant improvement to the air quality of a barn. Stall Skins allow the urine to pass through to the base underneath, thereby eliminating considerable ammonia gas. Less bedding is required, which means reduced bedding cost and less labor.
How do you determine if your horses are breathing excessive ammonia gas in your barn?
According to Eileen Wheeler, MS, PhD, professor of air quality at Pennsylvania State University, “If you can smell ammonia in the stable then it’s already above the recommended threshold for good air quality.” Ammonia’s respiratory impact detracts from a horse’s performance and overall health. Studies have shown that horses kept in stalls show more signs of upper and lower respiratory inflammation than pastured horses.
Stall Skins are a big advantage for keeping the smell of ammonia to a minimum. Urine accumulates on top of rubber stall mats. Even with bedding, rubber horse mats keep the urine-soaked bedding on the surface. As opposed to rubber mats, Stall Skins allow the urine to soak through the porous material, so ammonia fumes are greatly reduced and less bedding is needed.
Lower initial cost (half the price of rubber stall mats), reduced ammonia fumes, easy installation, less bedding required, reduced labor and time — these reasons all add up to why horse owners should choose Stall Skins instead of rubber stall mats.