View Full Version : Sustainable barn design

Nov. 23, 2009, 06:45 PM
I'm wondering who has incorporated green design into their horse facilities? I'm thinking about straw bale construction, green roofs, living walls, solar panels and the million other green design products and ideas out there right now. Does anyone have ponds/wetlands were they deal with runoff from their fields and barns? What are you doing to make your barn sustainable?

Nov. 23, 2009, 07:32 PM
Does algae growing on the north wall count?:lol:

I've put lots of thought into water run-off, mud-free areas, manure composting and control of pile "leakage" into the stream at the back of my property, but I've not giving thought to redesigning anything about the barn itself.

I have an existing metal barn--the metal will last many years and is recyclable--perhaps a greener choice than all-wood design? I recycle as many things as I can that come into the barn. But...what do you do with things like pellet bags (I do pack them with composted manure and sell those) and plastic bale twine?? I buy my vitamins in paper bags, but the darn manufacturers of grain are using plastic lined paper now, which my local recycle place won't take.

Nov. 23, 2009, 08:14 PM
I've been eyeing this book, and wonder if it has any good tips that I haven't heard of yet...


You might see if it has anything good to offer.

There was a short excerpt with a few pages worth of tips in one my horsey magazines this summer, but I can't remember which magazine it was in....

Nov. 24, 2009, 09:39 AM
Interesting topic; I have found that there are certain waste issues I can't seem to avoid -- empty pellet bags, even empty feed bags (while paper)...what to do with them? And the worst....baling twine. If only I had uses for these things! I don't sell my manure, I use it, so I don't have a good use for those plastic pellet bags. I am thinking about using my feed bags for weed control between rows in my garden next year but don't think I'll need too many, so that still leaves quite a few without a good use.

We are considering solar panels on the house and the barn for our own electricity. More expensive than buying electricity at this time, but obviously a more sustainable choice. We have a fair bit of research to do first; I don't know enough about the "sell back" options and want to understand what happens in a regional power outage if we are hooked to sell back -- would we still have our power?

We do a few minimal things to be more sustainable at the moment -- use our own manure for pasture maintenance, garden, etc. I feed hay in varying areas of my pasture this time of year to try to overseed bare spots rather than buy seed. We use swept up hay for the same rather than just chuck it in the manure pile. But that's about as far as we've gotten. :(

Nov. 24, 2009, 09:47 AM
In terms of building the barn, no, I didn't make any special changes that you'd call "green". I was on a pretty tight budget and there really weren't that many options in terms of alternate building materials, etc. that any local builders offered. For me safety and ventilation were priorities, and my barn is open to the elements so things like insulation to save heat, etc. are sort of moot. :) We did insulate the heck out of the tack room, and it doesn't take much to keep that at 40 degrees in the winter, which I have to do to keep the water pipe from freezing.

However, I do try to be thoughtful of these things, and I didn't build more barn than I need (save on materials), I keep the hay in the barn (save on building another structure), I use only compact fluorescent lighting where it's workable, I built with a great deal of consideration of runoff and the location of streams and creeks. I manage my manure with the same in mind. I have kept the creek running through the property "natural", avoiding clearing it just to make it "prettier". (constant battle with my husband on that one!)

Bedding bags, that's a huge peeve--I try to buy with paper bagging when I can, but for the past year the only bedding available in paper is crappy and I wind up wasting so much it sort of negates the effect of avoiding plastic. :sigh:

I don't waste water--we have an auto waterer so I don't have to dump buckets all the time, and when I do dump anything I make sure it's on the garden or something that needs the water. I do use some fertilizer and weed-killer, but only at a minimum, and I do a lot of "manual weed control". ;) We recycle.

I'm sure my "grade" as far as being earth-friendly would not be an "A", but maybe a "B". ;)

Nov. 24, 2009, 11:14 AM
Go to horsesforcleanwater.com.

Nov. 25, 2009, 12:48 PM
For everyone dealing with bedding bags:

Is it possible to get sawdust in the bulk from a sawmill? That's what my BO does for bedding, so we never have all those bags. It's also very cheap around here and biodegradable in the crop fields.

I understand that that sawdust may not be the best option for horses with respiratory problems, but it's defintely worked fine with healthy horses. You can also reduse the dustiness by lightly hosing it.

Nov. 25, 2009, 02:54 PM
No sawmills around here, and I've no place to store bulk bedding.

Nov. 25, 2009, 05:52 PM
I've no place to store bulk bedding.

That's the bigger issue. I can stack 85 bags of pellets in my storage room and still have room for lots of other stuff. If I got bulk sawdust I'd need an extra stall or build some sort of holding crib somewhere/somehow. We do have saw mills in the area; I know several people that use it so it is possible but definitely not as easy in a small barn.

I am going to start thinking about alternate uses for bags & baling twine. I wish there was a way to recycle them!

Nov. 25, 2009, 06:03 PM
If you have the honest to goodness baling twine, and not the poly twine material, you can make darling little Christmas tree wreath ornaments out them. :) You just need floriest wire and a plaid fabric to make the complete wreath. I make a bunch every year and add them to Christmas gifts with the name tag.

Nov. 25, 2009, 06:09 PM
For those up here in BC Genesis Recycling in Aldergrove takes twine and silage bags.

www.islandhorses.com has more information - organized by Jill Ackerman which takes all agricultural plastic.

My curbside paper recycling picks up feedbags.