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barn design in the humid southeast

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  • barn design in the humid southeast

    I'm acquiring 8 acres of sandy soil here in hazy, hot, humid northeast NC.

    Planning on a center aisle barn with covered runs going out from the individual stalls . . . into sacrifice area . . . with gates opening to multiple pastures with a view to rotation.

    Many folks say concrete with rubber mats is the best. But since my soil is so well-drained, wouldn't rubber mats over compacted pea gravel be better? Urine that didn't get absorbed by bedding would actually drain away instead of permeate the concrete and get all moldy/mildewy under there?

    I also saw suggestions for drains in each concrete stall. If I'm on high, sandy ground, tho?

    I've had some time since I left my last boarding barn to take care of my two mares on my own. What is clear is that winter is NOT a problem for them here. Plenty of hay and warm blankets and they both got fat during the Arctic Blasts (AND chose butts to the wind rather than small shelter available). However, one mare is very sensitive to heat. My main goal is to create a well-ventilated COOL barn for summers.

    Cooperative extension will be out soon to give layout recommendations.

    What help and insights can you guys offer?

  • #2
    We are also relatively hot and wet (50" of rain per year, more or less). Some things we did:

    Orient the barn such that it will get the maximum advantage from what breezes there might be on the hottest days of the year.

    Build a wide main aisle and high ceilings. Heat rises.

    Add a generous ridge vent or, better, turbo vents to dump the rising heat from the barn.

    Rubber mats in a hot, wet climate sound like a recipe for problems. Would you find resting on a rubber blanket comfortable on a 90/90 day? Better to lay a concrete pad with drain in each stall that empties into a French drain. Then lay 4-6" of crushed limestone over the concrete. Top that with 4x6 treated wood, butted (not tongue and grooved), together. Now any moisture has a place to go away from the barn. And if you do the most basic of cleaning the barn will never smell.

    Fans in each stall. Maybe old time ceiling fans set high. Maybe just box fans. On still days with no breeze a big, industrial fan to pull air out of the barn.

    Make sure the manure pile is remote and downwind from the barn.

    On rare, cold days close the windows and doors but make sure you still vent stale air out of the barn. Horses do just fine down to 15F with no help from us. On the other hand air heavy with moisture, ammonia, CO2, and methane is not a good idea, even if it's warm.

    Excellent idea to get Extension out to help you plan.

    Good luck as you go forward.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

    Comment


    • #3
      I second some type of venting system in the roof or at the top edges of the barn. It's the one thing I didn't do that I regret..

      I am in southern Middle Tennessee and the last few summers we have experienced Louisiana style humidity. I have barrel fans set on heavy duty outdoor timers for each horse. I don't wast my time with fly spray because it doesn't work past the first 15 minutes and the horses know they can stand in front of the fans in the barn, with some hay. FWIW, TSC's barrel fans were not holding up, so we bought the last two from Northern Tool, if you have one nearby

      My barn floor is crushed limestone. The technical term in my area is "1/4-down". I have restaurant grid mats on top of 10" of 1-4-down, shavings on top of the mats.

      i like the grid mats because, even though the holes fill with shavings, urine still drains thru. When I strip stalls, after all these years, I still favor dolomite lime (garden lime) to sprinkle on the mats to kill bacteria and any residual urine odor --- which there always is, in the summer.

      i have solid mats in the aisle way and the counter/prep area.

      Comment


      • #4
        No to concrete under mats in the stalls. It is quite hard. You will feel it when you walk around on it, so I think that's contra-indicated for the floors of our horses' stalls.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Julesandmel View Post
          I'm acquiring 8 acres of sandy soil here in hazy, hot, humid northeast NC.

          Planning on a center aisle barn with covered runs going out from the individual stalls . . . into sacrifice area . . . with gates opening to multiple pastures with a view to rotation.

          Many folks say concrete with rubber mats is the best. But since my soil is so well-drained, wouldn't rubber mats over compacted pea gravel be better? Urine that didn't get absorbed by bedding would actually drain away instead of permeate the concrete and get all moldy/mildewy under there?

          I also saw suggestions for drains in each concrete stall. If I'm on high, sandy ground, tho?

          I've had some time since I left my last boarding barn to take care of my two mares on my own. What is clear is that winter is NOT a problem for them here. Plenty of hay and warm blankets and they both got fat during the Arctic Blasts (AND chose butts to the wind rather than small shelter available). However, one mare is very sensitive to heat. My main goal is to create a well-ventilated COOL barn for summers.

          Cooperative extension will be out soon to give layout recommendations.

          What help and insights can you guys offer?
          Asking what flooring for your stalls is like asking what color to paint your house.
          Everyone will have a different opinion and very strong ideas why their way is best.

          Horses have been kept for centuries in Europe in barns that were all stone and concrete floored and did fine.
          Some that are not familiar with that think that, because our human bodies would not do well there, horses won't either.

          The reality, horses will prefer to stand in very flat and hard surfaces, lay down on softer ones, if given a chance.
          We had horses turned out to pasture come to stand in the pens on one old concrete pad, their preferred snoozing spot in acres of pasture, then move over to the dirt to lay down for sleeping.

          We should try to reproduce that, is what we do with stalls that should have a firm surface to stand there most of the day, with soft places to lay down at will.
          Well bedded concrete will provide that, especially with mats.

          There is a reason veterinary hospitals have concrete floors.
          It is not only that is easier to maintain and keep clean and disinfected, they could do that with other flooring if it was better for the horses.
          Since concrete floors are fine, all the other advantages of those make them the best.
          Especially if horses have also runs to the outside and/or turnout time and plenty of time being worked with and ridden, so they don't stand in any stall but part time.

          People make any kind of flooring work.
          Make a list of how you will manage the horses and then decide what fits what you want to do best.
          It may be concrete flooring or any other of the many out there.
          My point, don't dismiss concrete or any other flooring for the wrong reasons.

          Comment


          • #6
            We lived 28 yrs in the hot humid Deep South, we had concrete floors with mats. I much prefer it. Even though we were not in a flood zone, tropical storms and hurricanes could dump many inches of rain at one time and our old barn would flood regardless, I can't imagine the mess we would have had if we didn't have concrete floors. We didn't have drains and really didn't need them. If you have covered paddocks (we had the same set up and allowed 24/7 turnout) horses won't be standing in stalls as much.

            Comment


            • #7
              I would not go with any kind of wood flooring here in the South. Between the humidity and the termites, not to mention carpenter bees, you'll be replacing it. Would definitely either go with a layered approach such as gravel/clay/M10 and mats or the concrete and mats.

              I've also been thinking that if I were ever to finally get to build my own barn, I would have a concrete block barn and forego wood as much as possible, at least for the walls and side; much cooler and not subject to rot and termites; or the rusting of sheet metal.
              Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses on Facebook
              Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses Website and Blog

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by FatCatFarm View Post
                I would not go with any kind of wood flooring here in the South. Between the humidity and the termites, not to mention carpenter bees, you'll be replacing it. Would definitely either go with a layered approach such as gravel/clay/M10 and mats or the concrete and mats.
                I really like mats for cushion and ease of clean-up. We installed them in one stall at my old barn and it worked great. There was a clay base already, we added and tamped gravel, and put interlocking mat in--it worked great! I liked that the gravel underneath had a bit of give to it. Now at the new property I'm on very sandy soil--so I'm trying to decide if I should have concrete base or save money (I think) and install the gravel with mats on top.

                Originally posted by FatCatFarm View Post
                also been thinking that if I were ever to finally get to build my own barn, I would have a concrete block barn and forego wood as much as possible, at least for the walls and side; much cooler and not subject to rot and termites; or the rusting of sheet metal.
                I LOVE the cinder block concept. Peace of mind in hurricane season. But my husband thinks they're ugly and won't hear of it.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by js View Post
                  We lived 28 yrs in the hot humid Deep South, we had concrete floors with mats. I much prefer it. Even though we were not in a flood zone, tropical storms and hurricanes could dump many inches of rain at one time and our old barn would flood regardless, I can't imagine the mess we would have had if we didn't have concrete floors. We didn't have drains and really didn't need them. If you have covered paddocks (we had the same set up and allowed 24/7 turnout) horses won't be standing in stalls as much.
                  This is really helpful feedback. Thanks very much for sharing your experience.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks for this perspective and insight!

                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                    Asking what flooring for your stalls is like asking what color to paint your house.
                    Everyone will have a different opinion and very strong ideas why their way is best.

                    Horses have been kept for centuries in Europe in barns that were all stone and concrete floored and did fine.
                    Some that are not familiar with that think that, because our human bodies would not do well there, horses won't either.

                    The reality, horses will prefer to stand in very flat and hard surfaces, lay down on softer ones, if given a chance.
                    We had horses turned out to pasture come to stand in the pens on one old concrete pad, their preferred snoozing spot in acres of pasture, then move over to the dirt to lay down for sleeping.

                    We should try to reproduce that, is what we do with stalls that should have a firm surface to stand there most of the day, with soft places to lay down at will.
                    Well bedded concrete will provide that, especially with mats.

                    There is a reason veterinary hospitals have concrete floors.
                    It is not only that is easier to maintain and keep clean and disinfected, they could do that with other flooring if it was better for the horses.
                    Since concrete floors are fine, all the other advantages of those make them the best.
                    Especially if horses have also runs to the outside and/or turnout time and plenty of time being worked with and ridden, so they don't stand in any stall but part time.

                    People make any kind of flooring work.
                    Make a list of how you will manage the horses and then decide what fits what you want to do best.
                    It may be concrete flooring or any other of the many out there.
                    My point, don't dismiss concrete or any other flooring for the wrong reasons.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by walkinthewalk View Post
                      I second some type of venting system in the roof or at the top edges of the barn. It's the one thing I didn't do that I regret..

                      I am in southern Middle Tennessee and the last few summers we have experienced Louisiana style humidity. I have barrel fans set on heavy duty outdoor timers for each horse. I don't wast my time with fly spray because it doesn't work past the first 15 minutes and the horses know they can stand in front of the fans in the barn, with some hay. FWIW, TSC's barrel fans were not holding up, so we bought the last two from Northern Tool, if you have one nearby

                      My barn floor is crushed limestone. The technical term in my area is "1/4-down". I have restaurant grid mats on top of 10" of 1-4-down, shavings on top of the mats.

                      i like the grid mats because, even though the holes fill with shavings, urine still drains thru. When I strip stalls, after all these years, I still favor dolomite lime (garden lime) to sprinkle on the mats to kill bacteria and any residual urine odor --- which there always is, in the summer.

                      i have solid mats in the aisle way and the counter/prep area.
                      I'm very intrigued by your setup and will have to give it some serious thought!

                      Does your muck rake ever catch in the grid? Or do you use plenty of bedding above it? Any particular type that works best with it?

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks very much. Many of those things are on our checklist for getting the heat out and exchanging air. Would you orient the center aisle to the prevailing wind? Or with stall door fronts and backs open allow the main breeze to wash through the stalls from one side to the other?

                        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                        We are also relatively hot and wet (50" of rain per year, more or less). Some things we did:

                        Orient the barn such that it will get the maximum advantage from what breezes there might be on the hottest days of the year.

                        Build a wide main aisle and high ceilings. Heat rises.

                        Add a generous ridge vent or, better, turbo vents to dump the rising heat from the barn.

                        Rubber mats in a hot, wet climate sound like a recipe for problems. Would you find resting on a rubber blanket comfortable on a 90/90 day? Better to lay a concrete pad with drain in each stall that empties into a French drain. Then lay 4-6" of crushed limestone over the concrete. Top that with 4x6 treated wood, butted (not tongue and grooved), together. Now any moisture has a place to go away from the barn. And if you do the most basic of cleaning the barn will never smell.

                        Fans in each stall. Maybe old time ceiling fans set high. Maybe just box fans. On still days with no breeze a big, industrial fan to pull air out of the barn.

                        Make sure the manure pile is remote and downwind from the barn.

                        On rare, cold days close the windows and doors but make sure you still vent stale air out of the barn. Horses do just fine down to 15F with no help from us. On the other hand air heavy with moisture, ammonia, CO2, and methane is not a good idea, even if it's warm.

                        Excellent idea to get Extension out to help you plan.

                        Good luck as you go forward.

                        G.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Julesandmel View Post

                          I LOVE the cinder block concept. Peace of mind in hurricane season. But my husband thinks they're ugly and won't hear of it.
                          I boarded in a very beautiful cinder block barn for several years. There is no reason that they have to be ugly.
                          If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you know any horsemen in the immediate area, you may be able to make appointments to see their facilities and talk with them about what they did and why and what they like. There is nothing quite like local knowledge to capture the issues in your microclimate. They may be more horse-oriented than your local cooperative extension.

                            If you can give yourself a little time to know the property before you commit to your construction, that can be helpful too. Prevailing winds for your region may not be the same as prevailing winds in your particular parcel, especially if there is any kind of terrain or woods in the picture.
                            If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I am in NC but not on sandy soil. My first barn had mats over packed pea gravel. The urine goes between the mats and sits on the packed pea gravel and eventually the mats sink at the joints and the mats shift. I can not describe how nasty it is to pull up those mats and level the floor. Spent 25 years with those stalls. When we moved and I had the opportunity to design a new barn, I agonized about my flooring choices. After 8 years in it, I am still happy. I have asphalt in the stalls and aisles. The stall floors are sloped slightly to the back so if I want to hose out a stall, the water will drain out. The stalls are covered in rubber mats, which have never shifted. The tack and feed room are floored in concrete.

                              I have have good ventilation in both directions. There are overhead fans in each stall. My horses can come and go as they want from barn to dry lot when they are not on grass (they are a pony breed and I restrict their grass time) and they choose to be in the stalls with the fans running on summer afternoons. They have learned how to let me know if I forget to switch on the fans!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                BTW pea gravel in general doesn't compact and isn't really meant to. If you want to compact you usually want an angular rock.
                                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Julesandmel View Post

                                  I LOVE the cinder block concept. Peace of mind in hurricane season. But my husband thinks they're ugly and won't hear of it.
                                  Funny, I find them really innovative and find them much more attractive as they age as the stone tends to hold up better than the wood materials.

                                  Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses on Facebook
                                  Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses Website and Blog

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Here, pads of 4" concrete with rebar, not wire, is 4.-$ a square foot, if you need figures to compare with other materials.
                                    It probably would not be much different where you are.
                                    Calling a couple local companies will let you know.
                                    Here that would be comparable with gravel and labor, unless it is your labor putting the gravel in there and renting a tamper and doing the work yourself.

                                    We made a 2" valley and drain down the middle of 20', to the outside, into a French drain, that is a 3' x 3' hole of 2"-6" gravel.

                                    Our stall floors also have a 2" slope on 18', to the outside, so we can wash them if we want.
                                    That bit of slope you don't even notice, but is just enough for water not to stand there but run off.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by FatCatFarm View Post

                                      Funny, I find them really innovative and find them much more attractive as they age as the stone tends to hold up better than the wood materials.
                                      Same here.

                                      Years ago, a very fancy TB breeding farm, standing a son of Secretariat, was made of concrete blocks with stucco on the outside and looked very, very nice.

                                      All their fences were solid pipe posts and top, with V-mesh wire.

                                      They never had any injuries or horses getting out of that, or other getting in to bother their horses.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Insulate ceiling and sidewalls...use sliding bug screen doors, screen in windows.
                                        A well insulated barn is much much cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Keeping unwanted bugs, vermin and people out of your barn is a big plus no matter where you live.

                                        Comment

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