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Barn Design - Help me Decide!

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  • Barn Design - Help me Decide!

    The fam and I will be heading down to our new place in Kentucky the end of this month for a week and need to decide what we'll be doing about a barn. We don't officially move in until December 1st. I've never had to build one from scratch before, so I'm really not sure how I want the layout to be.

    I'm thinking a 30 by 50 four stall barn, probably one of the steel building kits where we do the interior finish ourselves. Because of the lay of our land, we have to put the barn in the pasture, which would not be my first choice, but it will save us a bundle on excavating costs. I can't decide between a center aisle with three stalls on one side and two larger stalls on the other with one of the three being the grain/tack room or having the four stalls across the back and leaving a nice big work area and room to store hay and shavings.

    The storage area isn't totally necessary as there's a nice old tobacco barn on the property, but it would save me having to move stuff around all the time.

    So how is your barn laid out and what do you like about it and what would you do differently? I'd love to hear all about them and pictures would be a definite bonus!
    I would like to think I will die an heroic death...

    But it's more likely I'll trip over my dog and choke on a spoonful of frosting.

  • #2
    My barn is close to size of the one you are talking about- it's 36x48.

    I have a 12 foot center aisle and it's laid out for 4 6x12 straight stalls, 3 12x12 box stalls, 1 10x12 wash stall, 1 14x 12 tack/feed room and a 12x12 storage area for odds and ends (wheelbarrow, shavings, 20 bales of hay, garbage cans, tools)

    The hayloft loft over the aisle projects a little past the front face of the barn- so makes a sheltered overhang over the doors at one end of the aisle.

    Two of the box stalls have dutch doors which can step out to an adjoining paddock- and each of the straight stalls has a window with a sliding door (all four are mounted on the same track)



    • #3
      Do some real thinking about how you want to do horse care, what equipment you'll have, how the facility will be laid out. Tailor the barn you build to the functions it will have. Will horses be housed in stalls 50% of their time, 90% of their time, or on 24/7 turnout with stalls used only for convenience and lay-up? Are you feeding all their hay in the stalls, or mostly feeding roundbales in the field? Go through a typical day and see where you can save steps by smart layout, but always keep the horse's welfare and safety as the priority for building. Different layouts are appropriate for different horse care systems. Be sure to build for the climate you will be living in and do things as they are done in your new area, don't just repeat what you know worked wherever you used to live if it was a different climate.

      Since you have an old tobacco barn, you can store hay and equipment there, which minimizes the fire safety and ventilation/dust issues that come with storing hay in the barn itself. How many bales of hay do you plan on feeding in the barn each day/week? Does it make sense to have a golf cart that you can load daily in the tobacco barn to transport hay to the stable, or to build a "hay cubby" in the aisle of the barn that will store a week's worth of hay at a time, or what? It all depends on your particular horse care needs.
      Hindsight bad, foresight good.


      • #4
        I heartily endorse in/out stalls with runs and an overhang, a laundry sink, the widest aisle you can manage, lotsa windows for an airy vibe, and an open bay for general storage.

        Click image for larger version

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        Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


        • #5
          It is no where near as convenient but it is much safer to store your hay in a separate building
          I wasn't always a Smurf
          Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
          "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
          The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


          • Original Poster

            Plainandtall - what a nice barn and what a beautiful picture! Thanks so much for sharing!

            Badger - I do have my horses home now and am pretty happy with that layout (four stall center aisle). It has three stalls in the main part of the barn with one stall area with a concrete floor used as a grooming stall/tack room. Then there's a huge (24 x 14) attached run in on the back. What I don't like is the very narrow aisle (8'?) so I want to be sure I have enough area to move around in (I have one draft and will be getting another for hubby ). Horses are only in to get grain in the morning and night. I feed flakes of hay out in the paddock when the pasture isn't sufficient. I definitely don't want a loft as the one in the barn I have now makes everything a dusty mess.

            Crone - I do like in-out stalls but plan on having an attached run-in on one side for them be able to get out of the weather/bugs.

            carolprudm - I totally agree!

            Thanks for the responses guys!
            I would like to think I will die an heroic death...

            But it's more likely I'll trip over my dog and choke on a spoonful of frosting.


            • #7
              Take what you love about the old barn and make the new barn work like it, but better. That's what I did when we moved away from a 100 year old converted bank barn in the midwest and built my dream barn. The new barn is very versatile and user friendly. It's a center aisle with two large run-ins, four stalls (two of which separate the open run-ins and have have individual runs off of them, and the other two across the aisle have a swinging divider that converts them into a single 12x24 stall), a washrack, feed/laundry room, and a tack room with bathroom. Each stall has a door onto the interior aisle and dutch doors that open to the outside under a 10' overhang. The wash rack also has a dutch door opening onto the outside for traffic and airflow and safety as it's sometimes nice to have that closed down to a 3-sided grooming bay and other times I want a cross breeze there. I have 12' center aisle with a cubby indentation (taken out of the feed room space) where I store a horse vac, manure tub, feed buckets, brooms, pitchforks, and shovels. I have an exterior hay cubby under an overhang where I store a few bales of hay but most is stored in a hay barn. The barn is built for the south and has a ton of ventilation (full length ridge vent, cupola, cross ventilation from the aisle doors, the exterior dutch doors, and the run-ins). The run ins are each the size of two 12x12 stalls plus a 10' overhang, so end up being 22x24 covered spaces. They come right up to the aisle and the horses can hang their heads over a tall wall into the aisle way. The run-ins are rubber matted. Horses come up to barn for meals, the ones that need separating go in stalls, the others eat from feeders hung on fence, I don't have to spend any steps turning horses out. I feed hay in the pasture slowfeeders and slowfeed nets in the stalls. When weather is bad, shutting the aisle doors and the exterior doors makes it a giant three-sided deep run-in shed and keeps any weather I get here out. In a brutal winter you might want more closure, but for KY if you blanket it would work great. No hay loft because i want the ventilation (and the light from a full length skylight at the ridge) and don't want the fire and air risk of barn hay storage. It was important to me to have outside doors as well as the inside ones for both ventilation and for emergency access. After safety, lots of air flow, light, good shelter and windbreaks, visibility, and saving steps were important to me. Go for at least a 12' aisle. 14' is a wonderful luxury, but 12' is quite comfortable. Fans in stalls and run-ins.
              Hindsight bad, foresight good.


              • Original Poster

                Badger -
                Your barn sounds like a dream! So well thought out (indent for the vac and other tools? Genius!) I would love be able to present a description to the guy we have build our barn, but I think hubby would freak at the additional cost. So I'll have to decide what I can and can't live without. Thank you so much! You've given me some wonderful ideas!
                I would like to think I will die an heroic death...

                But it's more likely I'll trip over my dog and choke on a spoonful of frosting.


                • #9
                  We have a 36X48 4 stall center aisle barn. The stalls are roughly 11.5x11.5 all on one side, they have a covered paddock on each stall and the paddocks open out into the pasture, so they can come and go as they please. The other side of the barn is for hay storage and a feed room. I have a separate tack room in the house. I prefer all stalls to be on one side.
                  "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."


                  • #10
                    most important to me

                    when I built my barn was that I could remove the horses in the stalls from the outside, thus each stall has a door into the hayway and one that opened from the outside in case of fire. It's more expense but WELL worth it IMO.

                    Being in the south, overhangs to keep the walls shaded from the direct sun was another biggy for me. We are in S. Ga, so maybe a bit more hot than Ky but it makes my barn MUCH cooler. The other thing I have NEVER regretted is to make the entire barn w/ a concrete floor. I have thick stall mats and bed accordingly and have not had one problem with the concrete floors and NO erosion in the stalls, obviously. I was told I would regret it, but I never have.


                    • #11
                      Insulate the roof and side walls. A concrete isle way will act as a passive temperature store...helping to keep the barn cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

                      Add screens for bug control. I have sliding screen doors at both ends of the barn.
                      If you will be spending any amount of time working in the barn, you will come to appreciate the joy of a bug free zone...and your horses will adore you for it


                      • #12
                        Wouldn't steel be dreadfully hot in the South? I'd think a wooden structure or concrete block would be a lot cooler.
                        I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


                        • Original Poster

                          js - your set up sounds just like what I have pictured if we decide to go that way. Seems like it would be a lot more roomy that way.

                          paintjumper - I definitely agree about the doors and overhangs. Thank you!

                          Ticker - I don't know about the screens to start with, but definitely something to keep in mind for future improvements. Definitely agree with the insulation. I've heard of nightmares where the metal siding and ceiling collect condensation and start dripping. Gross!

                          Guin - I plan on discussing this with the builder. I just assume that because that's pretty much all I see down south and that all the ads for barn kits are woodframe with steel siding its the way to go. I think the trick to keeping them cool is the insulation.
                          I would like to think I will die an heroic death...

                          But it's more likely I'll trip over my dog and choke on a spoonful of frosting.


                          • #14
                            There are lots of wood and cinderblock barns down south, people go to steel to save money and it avoids termite issues. We went with wood frame and hardiplank cement board siding, painted white which makes it cooler. Metal roof is insulated, lined with a reflector, and a light color to reflect heat.
                            Hindsight bad, foresight good.


                            • #15
                              Yup, insulate as much as possible. HUGE difference in interior comfort. Keeps it cooler in hot weather, warmer in cold weather and drier in damp/humid weather. Circulation too...vents and possibly vent fans. I'm in CT and am still mad at myself for not instantly insulating the roof in my barn, it gets stinking HOT in there in summer! Blech. Overhangs are always useful as heck. For anything from parking things, storing things, shelter from weather and to help insulate the interior of the barn from direct sunlight or bad weather blowing in. Plan on storage areas closest to entry doors and a driveway with parking and turning area right up to an entry door. Makes deliveries/unloading so much easier! In/out stalls can help cut down a LOT on bedding and cleaning/labor. (well, if your horses aren't the type to come in just to make a mess, LOL) Stall systems can be handy as heck if you get the type that you can easily move stall walls...lets you make bigger or smaller stalls as needed. Or you can build them on sliders or hinges. (hinged side walls that can swing flush with a back or front wall to double size of stall) Floor drainage...helps prevent flooding from Mother Nature or burst pipes. Also helps to keep barn clean since you can hose it down and not worry about puddles. Our barn had the foundation filled with crushed process, packed and leveled, a few feet deep as flooring. Covered with mats, but water runs to mat seams and drains away easily and fast. Kind of like one big 24 x 40 dry well. I love that aspect of my barn. I love my barn, but there's a few things I'd change if I had to do it over again. Major ones would be *more* insulation and overhangs on most (if not all) sides. Good luck on building! Can you share photos of the process on here? It's fun watching barns being built.
                              You jump in the saddle,
                              Hold onto the bridle!
                              Jump in the line!


                              • Original Poster

                                Great tips MistyBlue! I'd love to do the stall system, but unfortunately, the only thing in the budget will be me and hubby nailing up boards to make it look something like stalls with swing out doors. I'll remember about he overhangs too. Like I said, I want to have an attached run-in, so I'll see how much extra it is to do larger overhangs all around.

                                Unfortunately, I won't even be there to oversee the project, at least not for the main structure. We'll be relying on a neighbor and another friend to oversee the project and I'm sure he'll take some pictures for us and I'll definitely want to post them.
                                I would like to think I will die an heroic death...

                                But it's more likely I'll trip over my dog and choke on a spoonful of frosting.