13 Tips to Make Winter Barn Chores Less Miserable

Here's how to keep the barn running smoothly through the worst winter weather.


Everyday barn chores become even more challenging when wind, freezing temperatures, ice and inclement weather are added to the mix. Minor tweaks and inexpensive purchases can help make these chores as pain-free as possible. Read on for tips you can apply at your farm:

Horse farm in the winter

      1. While it’s tempting to dress like the Michelin man to venture out for barn chores, mobility remains an issue. Layering is the key to comfort and maneuverability. Once you start mucking stalls and dumping buckets, you’ll warm up fast, so the ability to shed layers is important. Start with a base layer of silk long underwear or leggings to wick away moisture.
      2. Layering latex surgical gloves under your work gloves can help hands stay warm and dry.
      3. Watering is one of the biggest challenges in winter, whether horses live outside or come into stalls. Heated water buckets are a blessing, but even just insulated buckets will help to keep water from freezing solid.
      4. Leaky hose fittings can be more than a pain: They can be dangerous if they leave behind a large patch of ice on walkways or the barn aisle. Repairing or replacing them takes only minutes, but will prevent lots of hassle in the coming months.
      5. Along the same lines, consider purchasing a heated hose or a heated hose cover, which will save you from having to drain the hose after each use or risk dealing with a frozen hose that can’t be used.
      6. Painting a piece of plywood black and floating it on top of troughs to absorb sunlight can cut down on ice formation (though it will still eventually freeze once temperatures dip low enough).
      7. For fishing out ice that has been broken apart, an inexpensive fryer basket is exceptionally handy for keeping hands dry while removing ice chunks.
      8. Consider replacing your plastic pitchfork with a metal one for the winter. Metal tines will work better for picking up frozen manure and are less likely to break.
      9. Like car and trailer tires, wheelbarrow tires can lose air as well. Be sure all tires are well filled for better maneuverability on slippery footing.
      10. We all know what a pain it can be to try to dip out some topical wound salves only to find them frozen solid (not to mention this can cause them to lose their efficacy). Move these products and other liquids to a temperature-controlled area like a tack room, feed room or even inside your home so they will be ready to use when you need them.
      11. While it’s an an expensive investment, if you live in an area that utilizes well water, it may be worthwhile to invest in a generator that can run your well pump. The loss of electricity during a winter storm means the loss of water, which can have devastating effects on equines.
      12. If you store your hay in a building other than your barn, consider hauling it to your horses on a toboggan, which glides readily over the snow.
      13. Place snow shovels and salt, sand or kitty litter near barn doors so they are easy to locate once snowy weather strikes.

Though not necessarily fun, winter barn chores must be done. These hints will help you weather the weather a bit more easily.

Liked this article? Here are others you’ll enjoy:

Keeping Warm During Barn Chores
Preparing for Winter at the Barn
5 Things at the Barn to Clean Before Winter


  1. Never thought of the latec gloves as liners…my gloves are always wet, which means cold fingers. We also use electric heaters in our water tanks, to keep from having frozen water.

  2. Trouph heaters for outside trouphs are a God send. They can be purchased at tractor supply or your local farm supply store.
    I don’t know how I ever lived without them.

  3. I like my metal handle apple picker fork, since the handle is lighter than the wooden type… I wrapped duct tape at the appropriate spots along the metal handle where my hands would be…. then gloved hands aren’t on cold metal and it’s actually a better grip.

  4. I buy the small hand warmers call Hotties that you can get at your local Farm and Barn or hunting supply store. I wear gloves because mittens do not work for me. I put 1 in each hand. They don’t interfere with pail handle etc. Then when I get in the house I put them in a air tight baggy until the next chore time. One pair will last all week if you remove and keep the air away

  5. I use st0ck tank deicers and I love them! I also suggest putting away the wheelbarrow and use the Jet Sled that the snow fishermen use to get the manure to the pile–so much easier!

  6. I’m surprised about the latex gloves. Nothing makes my hands wetter than wearing those! The other tips are great.
    One other thing to mention, leaky water pipes will lead to broken water pipes. Get those fixed!

  7. We use chicken grit (granite chips) on icy surfaces, the angular chips provide excellent traction, and when the ice melts they disappear into the soil.


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