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What to put on cement floor of loafing barn?

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  • What to put on cement floor of loafing barn?

    I'm new to having a "horse acreage" ... I have to say, it's great to have horses at home but there sure is a lot to learn!

    Anyway, my property is really an old cattle operation so I have a loafing barn that the horses/donkey are using for shelter. It has a concrete floor and probably a good 6 inches deep of what is probably all old cow manure (with a number of good "fossilized" chunks so that kind of helps me identify it!) Last summer the bugs were exceptionally bad, which might have been partly influenced by area floods, but I'm thinking that for optimal fly management I should probably replace the current flooring with something not manure-based. What would be the best flooring to put over concrete (and how deep?) Right now it's a large area to cover (4 "bays", so I'm guessing about 80 feet long and 25 feet deep?) but I'm also thinking about walling off half of it to put in some stalls and a grooming area. If I do that, would the remaining 40 x 25 area be enough for 2 horses and a mammoth donkey?

    Lots of questions, I know, but I'm afraid it's probably only the start! Thanks for your ideas!

  • #2
    Getting rid of that compacted cow poop will definitely help reduce your fly populations.

    You can use textured mats over concrete (about $36/4'x6' section) or you could use stone dust, or sand. If you don't use mats, you'll need to make sure there is enough material depth that the horses don't scape down to the concrete (slippery and hard on joints).

    If they all get along, your reduced space (after adding your stalls, etc.) should be plenty roomy for your three.
    Patience pays.


    • #3
      I have a 40' x 28' run in shed under the barn, the other 40' are 3 stalls with runs in front of them.
      Since ours was an addition to our Quonset barn, we didn't have a middle aisle and stalls on each side.
      Our aisle is against the barn and the stalls have outside access and individual pens off them.

      Up to five horses that don't fight get along fine under the 40' part.
      I have clay floor, with about 2" or 3" of sand and rubber mats the first 8' on the back side, by the aisle, to feed on.

      What you have there with the manure for floor is what some call deep litter, which is fine for cattle and many manage like that for horses also, only cleaning those sheds twice a year or so.

      Your idea of adding something to the slick concrete for a run in if you will be cleaning regularly down to concrete is good, as horses can slip easily, if they run around in there.


      • Original Poster

        You can use textured mats over concrete (about $36/4'x6' section) or you could use stone dust, or sand. If you don't use mats, you'll need to make sure there is enough material depth that the horses don't scape down to the concrete (slippery and hard on joints).
        Would I use just mats, or mats and then something on top of the mats? I had mentioned to my farrier about maybe bringing in sand but he was pretty adamant that might not work well, especially for my one horse who I'm struggling to help through a bad case of hoof cracking from all of the wet weather followed by massive stomping from the flies!

        All 3 animals get along well. The mare is boss but she is mostly a benevolent dictator and is very attached to the gelding, who likewise is in love with her (yes, I am also working on herdbound issues when I ride one out, which is why I now have a donkey .... I didn't used to!!) The donkey gets along well with both.

        So actually the lay-out is that there are no individual runs. They all can go into the loafing barn at will. Around the loafing barn is a concrete "apron" that extends about another 15 feet or so. That then ends into a large paddock (that is rapidly turning into my "dry lot") that in turn opens into a big pasture. So they don't tend to "run around" on the concrete since they have the dry lot around the loafing barn connected to the large pasture to run around in but of course they could run across bare concrete on their way into the loafing barn if they decide to do that. So I guess that raises the question of whether I ought to cover up that concrete, too!


        • #5
          I would put down mats and then bedding on top. If there is nothing on top to absorb some urine/poop, all of it will get down in between the mats and on top of the concrete. Unless it is sloped and/or has some drainage, the more that gets down there probably means the more often you'll have to pull the mats up and clean underneath. (And I mean once a year or every other vs. twice - not a huge deal).
          It is nice to have some sort of drainage underneath, but when you dealing with something already in place, you make the best of the situation!


          • #6
            If it's "really old" poop in the "really old cattle barn", then it should be entirely broken down and not attractive to flies, I would think.

            If it were my barn, I'd leave it, at least for the time being. My built-for-machine-storage barn has a 40' by 16' run in running down the side of it- with concrete footing. That concrete is the bane of my existence! Because horses are bursting in and out when playing or arguing, the mats slip all over the place. It's a different environment than an enclosed stall. When the wind blows rain in, the tops of the mats become super slick. I had a yearling bone-bruise her pelvis last winter I expect horseplaying on a wet night.

            The safest footing that has ever been down in my run in was when I had a full load of shavings dumped right in the run in and spread so they were about 9-12" deep, when packed. We just picked the top layer and occasionally spread some fresh shavings down. Because it was a run in, and it was deep, there was never an ammonia smell and I could tell my older mare laid down more that winter than she normally does, because it was very soft.
            my horse trailer was stolen from kentucky horse park. Seen it?


            • #7
              3/4" thick/heavy rubber mats (recommended) are about $40 at TSC. To cover this space (40'x25') you will need 28 mats for a total of $1120 plus tax. This will leave you with 1 foot along the front where the concrete isn't covered. Still, it will be much easier to clean and you can still throw some shavings or something absorbent in there to make it even easier to clean. Otherwise you could put a load or two of sand in there. You'll lose some sand when you scoop the poop out and their tootsies will drag some out of the shelter but it is an option.

              I don't know how much sand is but I would probably do the mats since it will last much longer.

              ETA: I calculated wrong. Sorry. It would be 60 mats for a total of $2400.
              Altamont Sport Horses
              Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
              Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
              Birmingham, AL


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the great suggestions! And pointing out some aspects I hadn't thought about before.... like that mats are prone to get slippery when wet. (It's making me boost the priority of installing a gutter along the edge to direct rain coming off the roof away from the entrance!)


                • #9
                  I "bed" our run in sheds with washed river sand. Works well, is cheap (compared to mats!) and comfortable for the horses.
                  Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts


                  • Original Poster

                    Does the sand have any "drying out" effect on the hooves?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kj2H1D View Post
                      Thanks for the great suggestions! And pointing out some aspects I hadn't thought about before.... like that mats are prone to get slippery when wet. (It's making me boost the priority of installing a gutter along the edge to direct rain coming off the roof away from the entrance!)
                      The mats will get wet from urine also which would make them slippery. Mats would get slick, clay would get slick. I would probably go with sand or just plain dirt.
                      Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
                      Bernard M. Baruch


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by kj2H1D View Post
                        Does the sand have any "drying out" effect on the hooves?
                        Yes it can, but you can always add moisture to hooves with topical hoof dressings. It is much easier to moisturize dry hooves than trying to "dry" soft, wet hooves out.
                        Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
                        Bernard M. Baruch


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kj2H1D View Post
                          Does the sand have any "drying out" effect on the hooves?
                          I don't think so. Our climate is dry, most of the time and our soil is very sandy. We haven't had any dry hoof issues.
                          Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts


                          • #14
                            Mats can be anchored down, my friend had all over hers "screwed to the concrete floors to prevent sloppage.
                            Sand does not pack and will give way on concrete.
                            How do you dispose of peed up sand?
                            Maybe sawdust spread over the mats since it will pack and give some grip as well as absorb and you can dispose of several times a year???
                            Being inside a building gives you the abilitey to have fans installed to help combat flies.
                            I would get rid of all the old cow pooh because it gets dusty and who wants to inhale that stuff