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Building the barn... please help with layout!

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  • Building the barn... please help with layout!

    After many, many years of searching for the perfect place, we have finally found it. It is adjacent to a large farm with an indoor, and we are going to build a smaller barn on our property in the same style as theirs. We have to have the barn plans approved by the township this month, so we are in a bit of a crunch. I am trying to figure out layout, but I also need to keep the overall footprint as small as possible.

    Here's my dream:
    *4 12x14 stalls, one of which converts to a foaling stall.
    *1 washrack/grooming stall or I also like these:

    *Sink and tack cleaning area, would love to have some bar stools here and have it double as a little bar
    *tack room
    *feed room
    *loft for hay and shavings storage (not an option to keep it in a separate building)

    I already know we are using Linear rubber to line the entire aisle and the stalls.
    I would love to have a washer/dryer, but we're in the Midwest. Will it freeze? Do we just insulate the barn, or is there an affordable way to do heat (boiler of some sort?)
    We'll also need hot water for the wash rack and sink.

    This barn is just for my family, and it has been a long time coming. I don't want to go insane and cost is a factor, but I want to use space wisely.

    Thanks in advance for advice/suggestions!
    Trinity Farm LLC
    Quality hunters and jumpers at Midwest prices
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  • #2
    Congrats on getting started on a new barn!

    To answer a few questions- friends of mine who have hot water in their barns have the hot water tanks in insulated feed rooms with the washer and dryers. Being in Michigan you could insulate the entire barn for the horses comfort but I think the hot water heater tank would still have to be in a smaller, insulated space.

    In my first barn I had a loft for hay and I ended up not using for hay because it was labor intensive to climb up there and feed hay. It was also labor intensive to get the hay up there. If in your area you have access to the conveyor belt that you can put hay on to get it in a loft then it won't be as big a deal. In our new barn we had built 4 years ago I allowed a 12' by 30 space for stacking hay. That area holds 300 bales with plenty of room for more- I could easily get 500 bales in it.

    If you have a tractor or plan to get one allow some space to park it in the barn unless you have somewhere else to store it. My barn doors are mostly slider doors and a man door but I did put in one overhead garage door with an electric opener. During the worst of the snow/ice storms when the other doors are snowed in or frozen shut I use the over head door and can get in the barn without having to dig out.

    The one fail I made with this second barn was not covering the eaves with fabric to keep the birds out. I've seen many barns where that was done and those barns are so much nicer than mine. This time of year my dark bay and chestnut mares look like appy's because they are dotted with nasty bird poop. If you go with what we call around here an agricultural building- the roof and side of the building meet at a 90 degree angle, birds would not be a problem. However, if you have eaves like we do, plan ahead and don't give the birds a space to use.

    Otherwise the typical drainage, access by vehicles of all sizes and orientation of the building for ventilation should be a factor in picking your site. Put in more electrical outlets than you think you will need. This saves you from running extension cords all over the place for fans, etc. Ditto overhead lights and exterior. A barn can't ever have too many light sockets. A vet could do colic surgery outside my barn when I switch on all the exterior lights.

    Good luck and have fun!!


    • #3
      I insulated my entire barn. The tack/feed room houses the hot water heater, and I installed a wall-mounted convection heater that works great for that space. If I were you I would put the washer and dryer in the heated tack room.

      When I did my lighting I chose one area at the end of the aisle by the doors (which are Dutch doors, glass on the top) and put a fluorescent light bank on the left and right side of the ceiling (NOT in the center - that will create shadows). I did this so there would be a very well-lit place for the vet and farrier to work, which they very much appreciate!

      Plan the barn access very carefully, and take into account the fact that snow pileup in the winter will decrease the amount of space you have to maneuver in during the winter. Think carefully about how you will get a trailer in and out (and where to park it), how hay deliveries will get to your barn, and how manure will be picked up. In general, snow can make your chores a real pain, so when you make your design give a lot of thought to how you will do everything with 2 feet of snow everywhere. Will it block your doors? Can you get a wheelbarrow out to the manure pile? Can you access everywhere easily with a snow blower? My barn has an overhang on either side, one for the horses on the stall side and one for equipment on the other side, and this has been a huge help in the winter. I put a people door under the equipment side overhang so all winter I could walk right into the barn during a blizzard and not have to dig out the entrance just to do night check.

      ETA: My tack/feed room also houses the staircase to the hay loft, so I tucked the hot water heater under the stairs to make use of that space. There is also storage under there. In the hay loft I made little hay drop doors above each stall so when I feed hay I just open the little door and drop each horse's hay directly into the stall. It's quick and less messy. The only downside is that when you have your hay delivered and stacked they cannot stack on the doors, but my loft is really big so it was not an issue for me. I also have a large drop about the aisle so I can drop bales too.


      • #4
        Count how many steps you want to take to do everyday tasks from tacking up, to mucking out to feeding. Your feet will thank you later.

        Your stalls sound like a nice size. Do not skimp on size of aisle way, tack room etc. Take in to consideration that your needs and priorities may change over time. Think 10 years ahead.

        Enjoy it!

        I designed the interior of my barn. If I could change anything I would have added one plug and cut about a foot off my feed area and added it to the tack room.


        • #5
          Dream Barn! We too, built our small dream barn! It is a four stall barn with tack room and wash rack, and has removable partitions between the stalls to convert to foaling stalls. All four stalls and the wash rack are on one side, with two stalls, wash rack, and two stalls. The other side is the feed room, tack room and small office/ apartment with washer/dryer in the bathroom of the apartment/office.

          We ran the pipes over top of the apartment to the horse side so that they wouldn't be buried in concrete in case work needed to be done on them. They are super insulated and have been fine. Lucas Equine Equipment made our stall fronts and doors, also the barn doors and Dutch doors on the back. Their quality is unbeatable, and everything they do is custom, so measurements are not problem even if every stall is different, as with some retro fit barns. We raised the tack room, feed room, office side of the barn up a few inches higher than the barn floor, to let us wash out the barn aisle with a pressure washer without worrying about getting water into the rooms. The non horse side of the barn has heat and air, and ceiling fans and nice windows in the office. No windows in the tack or feed room. We put automatic waterers in the stalls (but not heated ones) because of how the horses manage to get hay up into the waterers underneath. We were worried about fire hazard. We do have heaters in the outdoor waterers. These waterers are life savers and if I were doing another barn, I would sacrifice whatever else I had to in order to have automatic waterers!! My husband put the workings of the stall waterers in the front wall of the stalls with an access panel and lots of insulation, instead of heaters in the barn waterers. Good luck, and enjoy your new barn!!


          • #6
            Originally posted by Spooks View Post
            and how manure will be picked up. In general, snow can make your chores a real pain, so when you make your design give a lot of thought to how you will do everything with 2 feet of snow everywhere. Will it block your doors? Can you get a wheelbarrow out to the manure pile? Can you access everywhere easily with a snow blower? My barn has an overhang on either side, one for the horses on the stall side and one for equipment on the other side, and this has been a huge help in the winter. I put a people door under the equipment side overhang so all winter I could walk right into the barn during a blizzard and not have to dig out the entrance just to do night check.
            THIS, and I'm not even way up north. We had three deep snows in eastern Kansas this winter and the temps during two of those snows stayed very cold for a week so the snow did not melt, at all. At the first fox hunt after the second deep snow I remember all of us standing around in the parking lot asking "how did you get to your manure pile?" Most folks had resorted to dumping soiled bedding into an empty stall or off to the side until they could get their doors to open. It was a real management problem. The man door to my barn was useless because it isn't under an overhang.