Tips for building your perfect horse barn

March 25, 2020

Tips for building your perfect horse barn

 

What does your ideal barn look like? Big, spacious, high ceilings, and a red exterior? Yeah, we thought so. That’s everyone’s mental image of a barn — which we’ll get to at the end of this article. Going back, your barn should be both functional and efficient. Read on to find out more.



A brief history of barns

There are plenty of barns across America from different periods in history, designed for particular varieties of agriculture. We've moved from huge, open layout buildings to constructions based around hay storage and livestock stalls. Barns, once integral to the American livelihood, remain a vital element to working and living on a farm.

According to Almanac.com “…the farmer’s barn had to be built wisely because invariably, it housed his greatest assets. This agricultural building was more important than his own house. Without a way to protect farm animals or store crops, early settlers had few ways to survive.”

Barns were built for the sake of economics, out common sense and usefulness, not style. Every barn since then had evolved into a "new and improved" version compared with its past efforts—not only building techniques but construction material and the efficiency interior workflow. Back in the day, there were no structural plans or blueprints to guide workers. The experienced builder often brought his own knowledge from his home country and also gained experience from neighboring barns in his area. The looks we associate a barn with is the product of evolution.

Years passed and farms started to specialize in different sectors of agriculture, barns came to adapt this same paradigm shift. They soon were built to house livestock, dairy, fruit, poultry, and the like. In the later part of history, barns weren't just a large container to house produce, they soon became economic giants of production.

The majority of what we know about barns is still used today in the small family-owned farms and corporate giants. In the succeeding years, we, too, will use more improved versions of what we have now, continuing the never-ending modification of the barn.



The Evolution of Horse Stables

Stables were believed to have originated in ancient Egypt. According to Equiilifeworld.com, "The stable is typically historically the second-oldest building type on the farm. The world’s oldest horse stables were discovered in the ancient city of Pi-Ramesses in Qantir, in Ancient Egypt, and were established by Ramesses II (c.1304-1237 BC). These stables covered approximately 182,986 square feet, had floors sloped for drainage, and could contain about 480 horses.

They evolved into free-standing stables in the 16th century. These stables were built near the house because of the status horses had as draught animals. Indicators of high status were plastered covered ceilings which prevented dust from falling into the horses eyes.

What we know as horse stables today are British stables. They contain a pitching door and hayloft on the first floor and the doors and windows are symmetrically arranged. The interiors of a British stables are divided into stalls for each horse that normally includes a large stall for sick horses or a foaling mare. The floors are bricked and feature draining channels to prevent odor and debris from building up in the stables.



Building your perfect barn

There are one of three ways for you to construct your ideal horse barn:


1. Purchase a prefabricated one and have it delivered to the site

Prefabricated horse barns are becoming increasingly popular because of how convenient they are. They’re manufactured in industrial scale and then delivered to your site. Cost-wise prefabricated barns are significantly cheaper than traditional barns because they’re mass produced. Prefab barns are perfect for people who house a large number of horses or make horse breeding and selling their bread and butter. This modular design makes it easy to uproot and transport if need be. It’s a cost-effective way of transporting your horse shelter in case of emergency or if you bought a new piece of land and you want to retain the structure. And, it’s a lot faster than building a personalized barn from the ground up. If pieces are available at the warehouse, you can have your barn delivered and assembled in a matter of days. There are, however, quite a few pitfalls to purchasing prefabricated barns. For starter, they don’t have a personal touch. Most of them are ordered off a catalogue. While you can customize them in terms of functionality, there’s isn’t much you can do design wise.


2. Commission a design firm to build your barn

When you commission a design firm to build your barn, you’re taking all the weight off your shoulders and putting it on theirs. All you have to do is give them input, hand over revisions and they’ll take care of all the dirty work for you. Hiring a barn-professional assures you the competence that comes with working closely with outdoor enthusiasts and equestrian. They provide the resources and expertise to ensure the completion of the project. Commissioning a firm to do the work for you is a lot less of a logistical nightmare because they’re well-versed in the nitty-gritty of operational processes. However, you do need to take into consideration the cost of production. Also, production is dependent on the weather conditions. Unlike a prefabricated barn that’s made and stored in a warehouse, a design firm will have to source the materials from different suppliers. Shipping could take weeks, sometimes even months. If you have this kind of patience then good for you, but if you need the barn ASAP then maybe this isn’t the best option.


3. Hire an equestrian architect to design your barn and build it from the ground up

Hiring an equestrian architect to design your barn and building it from the ground up is by far the most expensive option but is the best way to design your barn. You have two choices here: If you’re handy with tools build the design yourself. If not, hire a private construction firm to supply your project with laborers. An equestrian architect knows the ins and outs, the ideal efficiency of workflow, and nails the aesthetic every single time — pun intended. It has all the cons of the second option we mentioned but the benefits outweigh the risks. Equestrian architects are top tier designers in the barn world. If you want a beautiful looking barn whose functionality is at par with its aesthetic, an equestrian architect is the way to go.



Key components of a good horse barn

 

Ventilation

It can get pretty humid inside a barn, considering how large horses are and the methane gas their waste emits. Natural ventilation systems aren't as costly, but they have limited airflow control and distribution. Barns need proper ventilation to get rid of moisture, prevent condensation, and bring in the fresh air. However, mechanically ventilated barns are intended for year-round conditions. Appropriately spread out air inlets eliminate air spaces in mechanically ventilated barns. Ventilation doubles as temperature control, comfortable barn temperature is between 45 F and 75 F.

Air exchange in horse barns is key to:

  • Controlling and removing moisture
  • Preventing condensation on surfaces
  • Maintaining good air quality. It removes dust, pathogens, ammonia, fumes and other compounds in the air
  • Removing heat and keeping barns cool and fresh during the warm conditions

 

Automatic feeding and watering systems

The key to horse health and well-being is appropriate feeding. Aside from excellent feed quality, horses need regular meals spread evenly throughout the day. Shared trough feeding, which involves extended periods of feeding, is exceptionally advantageous in terms of its high nutritional value as and sustained activity it provides the horses with. Also, the consistent portioning of concentrated and mineral feed triggers increased physical activity in horses.

According to extension.psu.edu: the average horse will intake 5 to 10 gallons of fresh water per day. Water is needed to avoid colic, dehydration and in worst cases death. A horse deprived of feed, but supplied drinking water, is capable of surviving 20 to 25 days. A horse deprived of water may only live up to 3 or 6 days. After lacking water intake for two days a horse may refuse to eat and exhibit signs of colic and other life-threatening ailments. Just like humans, in the heat of summer, a horse will enjoy cool, fresh water, but in cold winter situations, difficulties arise in providing water that is too cold or in a semi-frozen state. Humans enjoy a cup of hot tea, coffee or chocolate to warm their internal system and needs in the winter. Horse owners have discovered that warming the drinking water for their horse during the winter will lead to the horse consuming more water.

 

Tack Room

A tack room is a room in or attached to a stable for the storage and maintenance of riding tack (such as saddles and bridle) and often of stud records or for the display of prizes or other honors of the stable. A properly built tack room should has a place for everything. If it's efficient it doesn't necessarily have to be fancy — but a little bit of sparkle didn't hurt anybody. Even though the fundamental purpose of a tack room is for storage, it can become much, much more. Functionality is the most crucial aspect of a tack room, and if you can give a tack room different functions, it serves its purpose. You can make your tack room a common space to meet your clients or hang out with your friends.

Stablemanagement.com says that benches and seating spaces create a welcoming atmosphere that encourages riders to kick off their boots and chat about their horse’s progress, clean tack together, watch training videos or sit and enjoy one another’s company. Personal touches transform a tack room from a shared storage area into a place of enjoyment. For riders who have achieved success in the show ring, the tack room may become a display area for trophy saddles, bronzes, and buckles.

 

And there you have it! Plus a quick fun fact. Farmersalmanac.com reveals that hundreds of years ago, many farmers would seal their barns with linseed oil, which is an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant. To this oil, they would add a variety of things, most often milk and lime, but also ferrous oxide, or rust. It turned the mixture red in color. Hence why barns are painted red.




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