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View Full Version : Barn/Facility Design Dos and Don'ts



PeteyPie
Jul. 22, 2012, 05:20 PM
I would like to get input from people about things/features designed into their facilities that they love or hate. I'll start:

Don't Put Paddock Gates Close Together.

The place I board has two paddocks which have the gates next to each other. Such a simple thing, but it causes incredible hostility in the horses. My mares started giving each other the evil eye and putting their ears back a few months in. This would happen when a person would approach the gate. It escalated into a kicking match one day. I remembered the BO telling me about two mares he had had years before who hated each other and got into a kicking match which resulted in serious injuries and months of vet bills and rehab. I asked him which paddocks those mares had been in and he told me it was the same paddocks where my mares are.

I moved one horse down a paddock, but it was not as nice and I wanted them to have company. The only time they showed aggression was when someone approached the gate, especially at feeding time. Although I correct them when I am there, training was not an option because the farm hands don't have time, inclination or knowledge to chastise/correct each time they feed.

The problem was finally fixed when I experimented with feeding each horse in the corner farthest away from the gate. In addition, the dominant horse is fed first, which gets her away from the gate. Each paddock has two built-in feeders along the front fence, about thirty feet apart. My horses get a flake in the feeder and a flake in a big tub, which tends to migrate a little. The solution is simple and obvious to most of you, but the point of the post is that the issue would not have existed had the gates been placed centrally or at opposite ends from each other. I know this because when I moved both horses down one paddock, still in adjacent paddocks but with gates on opposite ends, they never showed any aggression, so I know it was the design, not the horses. What I don't know is how far apart is far enough that they don't feel threatened by each other's approach during feeding times.

CFFarm
Jul. 22, 2012, 05:42 PM
I've posted in these threads before that the best thing I like about my 3 stall shedrow barn is that we put it in the middle between two paddocks with a front and back door. This way I can rotate pasture by just opening a door to either. Also glad that we put in skylight panels. Brightens the stalls.

JB
Jul. 22, 2012, 06:23 PM
Don't put gates in corners either :)

Deciding whether they should swing in AND out, or just in (to prevent horses from pushing one open) is something to consider too, based on preferences, assuming the land allows the option.

TheJenners
Jul. 22, 2012, 07:34 PM
Don't put the water troughs close to the gates!!! I was at a place that had this, and what a mucky nasty mess it made. Which, of course, you had to walk through in order to go get your horse...

PeteyPie
Jul. 22, 2012, 07:44 PM
Do make spigots reachable from both sides of fence.

The spigots are outside the fence so I invariably have to go out, around, pass hose over, turn on water, and repeat when I am done washing water tubs. I can't reach through the fence because the wires are too tightly woven, and my hose attachments keep getting removed because they reduce water pressure and slow down the tub refilling when the farm hands are feeding/watering.

Bluey
Jul. 22, 2012, 09:12 PM
Decide how much time you want to spend on cleaning stalls.
If possible, have outside runs from each stall.
You can't believe how much cleaner the stalls stay for most horses.

Use portable panels and stalls, so you can change as your needs change, without needing to remodel big time.

SMF11
Jul. 22, 2012, 09:48 PM
If the barn is near the pastures, have spotlights on the barn directed to the fields so you can easily feed at night (or see what's going on).

I love my set up, where most of my fields are separated by a lane. However, I have double gates in the fenceline (not for everyday use) that, when fully opened into the lane, connect the fields. That way, I have tons of options; when all four pastures are connected I have about 18 acres they can roam around. (However, I usually don't have it all opened up into one big field).

Automatic waterers in the fields. Divided run-ins.

Dad Said Not To
Jul. 22, 2012, 10:37 PM
If you have the room, put lanes between paddocks-- IMO, 12' is ideal, but 6' is workable as long as you won't have to walk horses past occupied paddocks down such a narrow lane. Lanes between paddocks really cut down on fence fighting, meaning fewer injuries and fence repairs.

For cold-weather climates, the less hose you have to run for filling water tanks, the better. If you're running 150' of hose, it WILL freeze at some point in subzero temps no matter how diligent you are about draining it, and dragging it in to thaw, then back out later to fill tanks will add a considerable amount of time to your day.

Having a good site for the manure pile is important. You don't want it so far from the barn that you have to shovel a quarter-mile path to get to it in the winter, but it should be far enough away that it's not threatening to eat the barn on a monthly basis.

mroades
Jul. 22, 2012, 11:29 PM
OVERHANG!!! And no paddock gates in corners.

PeteyPie
Jul. 22, 2012, 11:38 PM
Do put a catch pen in the pasture.

So useful, especially when there are multiple horses.

Mudroom
Jul. 23, 2012, 10:39 AM
maybe you have already picked your location, but look for a spot where nature provides the best possible:
- drainage
- ventilation

if nature doesn't help you with these, if will be a lifelong struggle trying to create them artificially

sheltona01
Jul. 24, 2012, 11:52 AM
Don't put the gate at the lowest part of the pasture/paddock even if it is closest to the barn. My current barn has this and I hate it.

pony grandma
Jul. 24, 2012, 12:49 PM
Overhangs! they help prevent water pooling/mud at entries, provide shade and protection. Attached turnouts that open to the fields. Anything for shade areas - trees really help keep a place cool!

An enclosed secure barnyard to stop a loose horse from escaping - it amazes me that few places do this - read that insurance thread!

Plan for deliveries and trailer turn around access, best for emergency vehicles also.

IronwoodFarm
Jul. 24, 2012, 01:47 PM
Think long and hard about layout so that you can reduce the amount of labor.

My horses are out on 24/7 turnout and fed on poles. We have the fields centralized so that it is an easy 15 minute circle to get all the fields fed.

We also installed automatic waterers in the fields with hydrants at each field in case we needed to bring a trough in.

We use a covered t-post/electric tape system for our interior fences. We did move fence lines more in the early years, but things have settled. Still, I like having the ability to rearrange fence lines if I need to.

Keep in mind that it is hard to recruit people for manual labor, so figure you will be doing the labor and make the layout work for you.

RedmondDressage
Jul. 24, 2012, 02:49 PM
I think the two best things we did on our property were the gravel sacrifice areas/paddocks off of one side of my 6 stall barn. The horses have 24 hr access or we can lock them in if we need to. The gravel stays mud free in our super wet PNW winters which is a godsend.

The other thing we did that I love is to put a large sliding door on the middle stall that faces the driveway. I only have 2 horses at home at the moment so I use it as a shavings stall - I can back my truck right in to unload and can access it with the wheelbarrow from the aisle when I'm doing stalls. I also have the option of fencing another large paddock off that side of the barn and can use it as a run-in for multiple horses if I want rather than a stall. With a small barn and somewhat limited space (we're on 5 acres) having this flexibility has been invaluable.

TheJenners
Jul. 24, 2012, 04:04 PM
RD, I love to see some pictures of the sacrifice area, and what you put down.

And IronwoodFarm mentioned something about recruiting manual labor that I'd like to expound on: arrange things so that it necessary, the animals can be taken care of by a non-horse person. Imagine if you get hurt and need a friend to go feed. It's easy to write down that the brown horse with black hair and three white feet gets a scoop of whatever and three "sections" of hay, but not so easy to write down how to put a halter on or be careful at the gate to keep the other horse from absconding. Just a thought :). Or you can be like me and carefully hoard horsey friends.

Hippolyta
Jul. 24, 2012, 05:14 PM
everyone has good suggestions for paddocks, etc.

Sacrifice area ++++

also, simply choosing your location for paddocks, barn, etc with consideration of water table & drainage.

lockable (in terms of horses) feed storage area

sliding doors, not swinging

light bulbs out of horse reach or in cage

separate light banks for inside stalls vs aisle

outside lighting

aisle surface not slippery, easy to sweep & not hard to stand on (suggestions?)

removable feeders/buckets for easy cleaning

frost free hydrant with drainage underneath

light colored roof to avoid baking heat, slope to roof for snow

trees placed windbreaks & shade around barn (& pasture)

most important: VENTILATION. stuffy barns = sick horses

screening to prevent birds & bats from nesting in lofts/open areas

manure pile away from barn/buildings/well

lots of gates to get in and out of pastures with equipment- gates at the end of the pasture close to the barn & at the other end.

area where you could potentially have quarantine when needed

place run in sheds & barn with consideration to wind & sun

SmartAlex
Jul. 24, 2012, 05:37 PM
arrange things so that it necessary, the animals can be taken care of by a non-horse person.

Ideally, a non-horsey person ought to be able to do chores without having to lead a horse, or go into an enclosure with one. Run-in access to stalls. Water buckets/tubs that can be filled from outside. Feeders that can be reached from outside. Rings for haynets, and snaps on nets so they don't have to tie them up safely.

Justa Bob
Jul. 24, 2012, 05:50 PM
Think about fire and how the set up is better if one breaks out. How to store supplies / hay that are flammable in relation to the horse barn. Also, lots of plants within 50 feet of buildings adds to the "fuel" load -- so that is another thing to think about. Storing paints and those supplies.

Remember to have a little fun too!

Best wishes and enjoy the planning process!

Ibex
Jul. 24, 2012, 05:56 PM
How you position a barn in relation to prevailing wind can make a HUGE difference in keeping a barn cool and the bugs down in the summer without using fans or insect control...

fatappy
Jul. 24, 2012, 06:23 PM
Outlets above the stalls for fans so extension cords aren't dangling.

Removable everything.

Someone once mentioned bullnose cement blocks on the aisleway.

Windows that can be shut and still allow light in.

I don't know if this would work, but laying mats down in the barn then building the stalls on top (so you don't have to worry about cutting mats/ mats curling) or if you could buy rubber rolls (gym supply stores have them) to put down first.

AliO
Jul. 25, 2012, 04:46 PM
Don't put gates in corners either :)

Deciding whether they should swing in AND out, or just in (to prevent horses from pushing one open) is something to consider too, based on preferences, assuming the land allows the option.

I prefer a gate that swings both ways, you never know when it will come in handy, but i also like those latches that will keep the gate shut in one direction or the other.

Preposterous Ponies!
Jul. 25, 2012, 04:59 PM
Do have an area that is accessible for dead stock/easy to pull a horse out. Trying to drag a dead horse out of a 10x10 stall is not easy.

chicamux
Jul. 26, 2012, 07:26 AM
Suggest you look over this University of Maryland, Equine Rotational Grazing Demonstration Farm. Lots of good info about layout of facilities.

http://ansc.umd.edu/ERG/index.cfm?directory=facility.cfm

chicamuxen

creekridgefarm
Jul. 26, 2012, 07:47 AM
DO put human walk-throughs at some point in your pasture. We put ours next to the gates, and BOY are they ever a time saver. Since our horses are out 24/7, I can walk through with hay, grain, brushes, fly spray, etc. And with our one gate challenger (he always wants to come out and work...), it's much easier that sneaking through the gate and quickly shutting it to keep him in. So glad we decided to put in the extra effort with this. Probably wouldn't work too well with hot wire or tape, but wood and/or field fencing should be fine.

I also second the comment about outlets above stalls. We didn't do this right away in our lean-to, and I wish we would have. Sure would have made installing the fans easier.

trubandloki
Jul. 26, 2012, 07:59 AM
Drainage.
Think about and plan drainage. When it rains hard you do not want a river running thru your barn. You do not want a river running right by your gate or right where the horses have to walk to get to their pasture. Water has to go somewhere, plan where you want it to go, not where it wants to go.

TheJenners
Jul. 26, 2012, 05:26 PM
Oh yeah people walk-thrus! As long as you don't have any young stock or determined small stock (donkeys...), they are awesome. I did have one young regular size donk who figured out the ones built at an angle, sort of like a sideways V or arrowhead. I'm not good enough at stick art to show you what I mean... :(. He continued to wiggle through until about age two.

Electrikk
Jul. 29, 2012, 05:29 PM
If you are going to have horses that just live out in a field vs stall and field, make sure to have a dedicated place for their halters, flymasks, and blankets that is convenient so things can be grabbed easily. Trying to figure out if someone left your horse's halter by the gate, in your tack locker, tack box, on a random hook etc gets really old really quickly. For hoses, maybe try one of those hose holders that you crank to roll up the hose rather than doing it by hand-much easier, and it doesn't get tangled as easily. Make sure to plan out the "flow" of the feed room, hay and bedding storage, and the tack room as well as water.

cnvh
Jul. 30, 2012, 09:45 AM
At the barn where I recently moved my horse, they have sawdust inside at one end of the barn (in a garage-like area designed for a truck to back in and dump), and at the other end, there's a lower-level drive-through for the tractor and manure spreader, with a gated doorway and "slide" above where the manure spreader sits (and gets driven out and spread onto a neighboring farmer's field daily)... Both the sawdust pile and the manure-dump are directly accessible from the main barn aisles, so I can clean Horse's stall, dump the wheelbarrow right down the slide into the spreader, go to the sawdust pile, refill my wheelbarrow and re-bed Horse's stall-- without ever having to set foot outside the barn.

I can't even TELL you how much I adore this set-up when it's pouring-down raining, and having 100% dry sawdust available without having to fight with giant tarps covering the pile and the inevitable wet sawdust at the bottom, and having to trudge through wet manure-puddles to dump the 'barrow... I'm almost excited for winter, when this set-up is going to be ESPECIALLY wonderful when I'm not having to fight my way through snow and ice and frigid winds!!

HPFarmette
Jul. 30, 2012, 02:08 PM
Please tell me more about walk-throughs. I don't think I have ever seen one. And I am old.....

cnvh
Jul. 30, 2012, 03:16 PM
If they're like what we have at our barn, they're very narrow openings in the pasture fence (in our case, right next to the gates) that a person can pass through, but a horse can't. Maybe 1' across, give or take?

Sport
Jul. 30, 2012, 03:55 PM
Do make spigots reachable from both sides of fence.

The spigots are outside the fence so I invariably have to go out, around, pass hose over, turn on water, and repeat when I am done washing water tubs. I can't reach through the fence because the wires are too tightly woven, and my hose attachments keep getting removed because they reduce water pressure and slow down the tub refilling when the farm hands are feeding/watering.

You can get shut off type attachments, that go on the end of the hose, but have little affect on pressure. They look like a splitter that you can put 2 hoses on, but they also have single attachments. They just have a small lever you flip.

NBFarm
Jul. 30, 2012, 05:37 PM
Two very well thought out options that were put on my barn (I can take no credit because I bought it versus built it):

1) A concrete floored bulk bedding bin attached to the barn, with an exterior garage door large enough for a dump truck to back into. It will hold 60+ cubic yards of bulk bedding and has a small door that opens off the back into the main barn aisle. No need to go outside or to a different building for bedding, and no need to buy and store expensive bags.

2) A permanent concrete manure pit. Mine sits below the end of my main barn and there is a retaining wall that butts up to the edge of the barn. Currently I have a dump truck parked in it and backed up to retaining wall. You push the wheelbarrow out the back of the main barn and dump straight into the bed of the dump truck. When the truck is full, off it goes to the nearby compost yard (and it returns with a load of bedding at the same time!). I would still recommend the permanent concrete pit even without the dump truck scenario.

HPFarmette
Jul. 30, 2012, 05:53 PM
Thank you CNVH....

Bluey
Jul. 30, 2012, 06:09 PM
The walk thru gates I have seen were some kind of V made mostly out of wood, some pipe, but look here, there is a commercial one called C:

http://thecgate.com/

One advantage over the V is that you hardly fit with your hands full on the V, but you would in a C gate.

I wonder, would a very insistent critter keep trying and get stuck in there?:eek:

Mosey_2003
Jul. 31, 2012, 10:53 AM
Someone once mentioned bullnose cement blocks on the aisleway.

Huh? :confused:

fatappy
Jul. 31, 2012, 01:01 PM
Huh? :confused:

It's the same thing as a wood quarter round. Sorry, I can't find any images. I haven't ever seen it in practice, but I think it'd be a great thing to have to keep water from sitting in the corner of a stall wall and aisle floor.

Mosey_2003
Jul. 31, 2012, 01:10 PM
Sorry, I still don't get the purpose, but I AM blonde :lol:

TheJenners
Jul. 31, 2012, 01:15 PM
The walk thru gates I have seen were some kind of V made mostly out of wood, some pipe, but look here, there is a commercial one called C:

http://thecgate.com/

One advantage over the V is that you hardly fit with your hands full on the V, but you would in a C gate.

I wonder, would a very insistent critter keep trying and get stuck in there?:eek:


They also have this option, a C & a Half!

http://thecgate.com/cgatehalfcgate.html

Looks more horse safe and less like a determined horse's escape route. While I do love walk-thrus, I've completely eliminated the ability to have one after the purchase of the mini donk, who could easily navigate one in his quest for world domination.

subk
Jul. 31, 2012, 08:27 PM
I have a french drain under the drip line of my barn roof so that all the water is moved away from the barn. I have no mud around my barn--even after our Great Flood with 18" of rain in 48 hours.

PeteyPie
Aug. 1, 2012, 02:35 PM
Frugalannie posted on another thread: "Suggestions, please! I have two "L" shaped arms to hold the rails, and I can stack two small coops under them. But the standards, cavelletti, panels, wall, flower boxes, barrels and white plastic blox are threatening to take over the whole indoor.

If I could come up with a way to manage the standards, that would be great. Does anyone have a system that works?"

This brings up a good design idea, to design a place to easily set aside the jumps and bulky, heavy stuff. I'm thinking a wide gate on the side of the indoor arena accessing a small yard/area. A mid-arena location would mean less distance to drag everything, and once the gate is closed, the stuff is completely outside of the arena. Someone suggested hanging it (I envisioned a system like that for hanging bicycles in a garage) which would work, but there is the danger of something going wrong and having things fall (like that rule in construction: if it can fall it will) and it seems like it would be time consuming to hang each piece. I will keep following that thread to see what people like/dislike in this situation.

I suppose a heavy-duty shelf system would work, like those metal ones at Home Depot, as long as there was space on the bottom for the really large, heavy pieces. Or how about making stands for seating and using the space underneath for storage? Might work. No lifting and it would look neat.