Does anyone know of a company that makes this or has anyone tried to jerry-rig it themselves? I'm thinking of a low heat (but well above freezing, say 50/60 degrees), low maintenance system. Any ideas? I thought perhaps a closed water system circulating water heated by a stock tank or aquarium heater? Just something to take the edge off Vermont's winter with arthritic horses...
I'm trying to find out if anyone has made them- I found one designer who had made radiant concrete aisles in a cow barn, and was wondering if a stall mat were possible. It seems to me that if one were to lay the hose in stonedust or screenings, then put one's rubber mats on top, there wouldn't be any problem with shavings, etc. It would be easier still if one had stall skins, or the stall mattress things.
Basically the in floor radiant heater in the stalls is the same as the one you might install at home. The heat generated should not be concern for fire hazard. However, EXPENSIVE!!! You need to first lay a barrier so you are not heating the earth, pour concrete, lay the radiant heating elements, cover it up with more concrete, and then stall mats. It is probably cheaper to just hang a heat lamp. That is what I do in foaling seasons anyway.
But instead of pouring concrete (as I don't want concrete floors in my stalls), couldn't I lay the PEX or hose in a layer of stonedust, cover it with another layer of stonedust, and then put on a mat, as usual? Heat rises, so it would naturally warm the ground, then up - ? Even something more flexible than PEX - like garden hose - couldn't that work with a low-heat system?
You'd probably be better off with a regular underfloor heating with mats on top. You need the heating elements to transfer the eat to the concrete so that it can hold it. You would be defeating that by using stonedust.
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Wonder how much power they draw? How much would it add to the electrical bill? Also, I would not think they would stand up to shod hooves and I would not take the risk of wear & tear.
I have a HeatTrak for my steps for winter ice. They can be driven over by a car, but not dented or folded or have uneven pressure. IMO NOT suitable for hooves with 1000 lbs pressure. Its electricity running through them.
Electricity + horse shoes + urine + uneven pressure= Baaaad idea.
That said it does keep ice off, but are really heavy.
A normal horse is going to weigh about 1000 lbs. and that weight is distributed over a relatively few square inches of very hard material, often with a "cutting edge." That means any flooring product has to be pretty "robust." Also, you want some sort of "thermal mass" to hold heat so you don't have to run the system for long periods of time (at great expense). I suspect that's why concrete would be the leading candidate for such a system.
But, as noted, you're going to have problems with odor as you're essentially "cooking" your manure, urine, shavings, etc. The barn will have to be very "tight" to hold heat; that will also hold amonia fumes. The respiratory problems that come from this might easily overcome any relief that arthritic horses might enjoy.
As noted radiant heat lamps are probably a better solution.
If you have your heart set on infloor radiant heat, it is probably better to put it in the aisle not in the stalls, as some have pointed out that the ammonia smell will probably knock you out... Also the heating element itself is not strong so you need something strong like concrete to protect it. And even though heat rises up, the energy transfer to its surrounding so if you don't lay a barrier first, well, you will be heating the earth.
If you're convinced heating their legs is going to help them (which is questionable), why not invest in some Back On Track-type wraps and heat the legs, not the barn? Environmentally and efficiency-wise, heating a barn is just really, really difficult unless you compromise air circulation.
overhead infrared heaters.
too much happens on the floor.
Even kennel heating mats are expensive, I can't think of what it would cost for a horse stall- plus as others mention, ammonia fumes because the heat in the bedding will promote the bacteria that create the ammonia.
The overhead heaters will keep your oldies happy and are easy to access or fix if something goes wrong.
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Last year I experimented with turning one of my stalls into a "deep litter" system. WOW. I was completely impressed. It involved a learning curve, but was well worth the effort. I admit to being pretty much horrified at the thought the first time I read it here on COTH but watching my young endurance horse get stiff and creaky in her stall each night through the winter, it was worth a shot.
I have concrete stalls with mats on top. I was bedding deep, but she still just looked 'ouch' when she got up after lying down for a couple of hours.
Basically with the deep litter system, you remove all the manure but leave the wet shavings. The urine soaks to the bottom and sort of "breaks down" the shavings over time. You keep adding a thin layer of dry shavings on top. The shavings that are decomposing on the bottom stay warm with the decomposition process. The shavings on top stay dry and fluffy. There is NO smell, unless you're not maintaining the stall correctly, or if your horse digs up the stall.
A pawer, or spinner could never have a deep litter stall, but for quiet horses, I found it to work beautifully. (After I figured out the correct way to clean out the manure without disturbing the wet stuff.)
My shavings usage in that stall decreased dramatically. The floor was always springy and warm, and the horse was visibly more limber and comfortable.
The downside is that you have to dig it all out and start over 1x a year. I've been working on the stall off and on this summer and just about have it done.
To start with, you need to use like 10 bags of shvings to get a really deep bed. Then just keep picking out the manure, but not the wet shavings. Rake dry shavings over on top of the wet. After about 4 weeks, the whole bottom of the stall is covered in packed/wet shavings, and you maintain a good layer of dry on top of that. I kept my dry layer maybe 5" deep or so. I think I was putting in 1 new bag of shavings about every 10 days. I would dump a new bag in the corner, then sprinkle another 2 forkfulls or so over the stall each day.
If done correctly, there is no smell, and the stall always looks like a clean, freshly bedded stall. The only difference is that the horse can't sink or scrape through the shavings down to the mats. They are always suspended on top of a thick layer of compacted shavings.
Anyway, it does not answer your question, but it might be another option if you can't figure out a way to do in-floor heat.