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Need Advice on Making a Stall in Old Cow Concrete Barn

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  • Need Advice on Making a Stall in Old Cow Concrete Barn


    We bought some property with a great condition concrete block barn. It was used as a cow barn and has the barn cleaner and concrete floor, which of course, we are planning to put rubber mats on.

    I am not sure how to build (I'm no carpenter) a horse stall in here, either from scratch or a modular system. First problem, is support posts, in a concrete floor, this is not possible (?), Next how to create the side stall walls and affix them to the back wall. The back walls have concrete block and glass block windows, and the barn is not at all musty, or damp.

    Please any advice is appreciated.

  • #2
    Wow, how much fun.
    Any pictures?

    The portable stalls you can buy are self standing, you don't need posts for them.

    You can add posts to a concrete slab easily, there are concrete anchor bolts you can use, all sizes, some you drill a hole and pound the anchor in there, others you can use a special gun that shoots them in the concrete.

    Then you can add L brackets to bolt your posts to if wood, weld to if you are using metal posts, like pipe.

    I would get many ideas, as you are doing and maybe get some bids, once you have plans, from several local building companies and handy men.
    Ask for references from others locally that have built barns.


    • Original Poster

      OK, I was a little worried about portable horse stalls, since I was thinking they may fall down and not be stable.
      On the pictures, I made a video for my folks back east, but at 2:59 you can see my barn at youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjZA1X2g4r0

      I guess I can do some more investigation, since it doesn't seem to be a problem afterall.



      • #4
        How cool is that! I saw two other out buildings, can you talke to me about those? What will you be using them for? Would one of them actually be easier in some manner to retrofit for horses? It will be nice, though, to have a separate building for storing hay.

        I haven't done this, so am not expert, but I have to say I would be standing there thinking, get the stancions out of there, and place down a heavy plank floor over the cow pit, and build stalls up from that. maybe that's not a good thing to do, have no idea, but that would be my first thought, and would want to know from a builder/ horse person what they thought.,

        I would be ineterested to see if anyone else comes onto this thread who has retrofitted a cow barn into a horse barn and what did the do?

        Where is your new farm?
        Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


        • #5
          My trainer did... years ago. Filled in the "parlor" with concrete and the other area (not sure what it was, but we used it for years as a TINY indoor arena, now it's another 10 stalls plus hay storage) was filled with lots of dirt. I guess what used to be the indoor was once a hole about 15' deep. Took a lot to fill it, but they did. Now, that whole area, minus the inside of the stalls themselves, has concrete floors. That's about all I know about the barn. Other then it sweats :-). It's always a bit damp in there, and a tad dark, but a lovely barn nonetheless.

          ETA: I guess I didn't mention at all about the main barn that has 11 stalls plus a wash stall. Anyways, not sure how the stalls were done (this was all prior to me lessoning/boarding there 10 years ago) but the stalls are all your typical 10x12, I think (maybe 12x12). It works...

          Not sure if that information helped you out at all or not, but best of luck!
          Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
          See G2's blog


          • #6
            I used to work at a dressage barn that had "overflow" stalls in an old cow barn. It was the built-into-a-hillside type, hayloft above and stalls below (partly underground on the hill side). The stall walls were just built up with 2x6"s. Yes, there were support poles in some stalls, but they tried to plan appropriately-- in most cases, the support beam was close to a corner, or a foot off the wall. It wasn't ideal, but it didn't bother the horses at all; still plenty of room to move around and lie down. The half-underground design meant that some stalls were quite dark (little/no natural light), but it also was warm and cozy in the winter. It was also quite convenient to drop hay directly into the stall (or manger) from the loft above.

            If I had a nice, sturdy cow barn I wouldn't hesitate to do some remodeling, it could make a very useful horse stable.
            “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
            ? Albert Einstein



            • #7
              I don't think it's too hard to drill into concrete. Guys who install sump pumps in basements do it all the time. You can probably rent a concrete drill from an equipment rental place. If the concrete is very old it might crumble when drilled, so you might need to figure out how to stabilize the holes so your bolts don't end up loose and wobbly. Maybe by adding fresh cement around the bolts?
              I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


              • #8
                I have done it twicw. Get the stantions out. Cut them or drag out with a tractor. Fill the stayion areas with crusher rock or asphalt/conctrete. O wooden planks. Cover with mats that are leakproof and build away. As long as the ceiling is high enough an old barn is a great horse barn. You can add windows,doors whatever. 30 years ago my husband and I did it all ouselves. A few years ago we hired a crew to redo a sale property. Redoing old barns is fun.


                • #9
                  Good Lord - it's not difficult at all to build stalls on a concrete floor. How do you think houses are built? Walls are put into concrete foundations all the time - load and nonload bearing walls.

                  Pressure treated lumber whereever it touches the concrete, and/or consider a membrane. Use a concrete drill to bolt the lumber to the concrete floor. Build out your walls using standard construction methods and your design.

                  You can build half walls with grills or full walls. Doesn't matter.

                  You'll have a terrific barn that will hold up just fine to livestock. Use good lumber, sized to withstand the load and forces applied to it, bolt it properly, and build it out.

                  My barn stands up to obnoxious spoiled half draft horses.

                  That concrete floor is fantastic, expensive and perfect for a horse barn. You'll have fewer rodents, good level footing for your mats, no pooling of horse pee - it will be fabulous.
                  Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                  Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                  -Rudyard Kipling


                  • #10
                    I boarded for over 18 years in an old cow barn. It was the warmest in winter( low ceilings-hay in loft) and coolest in summer( windows on both sides came out). They took out the staunchions, built wooden( 2x6 oak) sides and fronts with sliding doors. They left the back( outside) walls as brick. Each stall had a bright window. Stalls were 11 x 11. there were 18 in the main barn with a center cement aisle. They began boarding well before mats became popular, so bedded very, very deep so the stall floors were level with the aisle. There may have been a layer of sand or gravel underneath. There was never any odor other than nice hay and horses. Every so often they might dig out a stall completly, but never really had the need. A great barn. All day turnout, grew their own hay, 3 meals a day. What more could you want?


                    • #11
                      We ordered our stall fronts and side walls and they come with support beams designed to be bolted to the concrete floor. All you need it masonry bit and a drill with full power. Drill a hole in the concrete, then use a shop-vac to suck up all the dust in the hole, and then bolt the beam down. It is really easier than it looks. Actually it was one of the easiest parts when we built our barn....

                      The stalls we ordered didn't include wood (most don't) so I purchased tongue and groove 2x4 yellow pine from a local lumber yard, cut it, stain it on all four sides, and then tape them into the compartment for the wood. We also make sure the bottom row of lumber is pressure treated. Very time consuming overall but turns out gorgeous. If you want to stain your wood (which is highly recommended to protect your pricy wood), do yourself a favor and get yourself a spray gun....


                      • #12
                        We have cinderblock stall walls that go up about 4 1/2 feet, then bars another 5 feet on top, spaced close enough that hooves can't fit between them. Let's the barn feel more open.

                        The cinderblock is almost indestructible, is cribproof, and easy to clean.


                        • #13
                          It's actually pretty easy to make them in these barns.

                          If you take two peices of lumber, and create a channel system it's really easy and you can move them around. Secure the wood flat against the wall with a space between the 2 pieces just large enough for the wall pieces to slide down between them.

                          At the base of the stall you can lay the wood down on the concrete and secure your stall corner end pieces to them. I know this explanation sucks but I have pictures etc if you want to see.
                          Boss Mare Eventing Blog


                          • Original Poster

                            Wow, I was away from the computer for a couple of days, and I got a bunch of really good ideas. Thanks very much. In the meantime, here near Pittsville Wisconsin where I live, I looked at a couple of boarding places with Indoors, and sure enough, here in Wisconsin, I saw some great places where they built horse stalls out of an old cow barns.

                            I am originally from the Hudson Valley area of New York, but now my dairy farmer husband and I live in Pittsville Wisconsin. The hudson valley area is plumb full of rich weekenders from the city, mostly the wall street money crowd, and shrinks. These folks buy the 700,000 and up houses with CASH (from our bailout money). Normal houses in sitting there unsold because no one is buying. Wisconsin is all almost dairyland and some cranberry bogs. However, it appears that 1/2 of the 19th and 20th century gorgeous barns are sitting vacant and rotting away, and it is such a shameful waste. Newer dairy farmers are using huge free stalls to dairy (except my husband, who still has a 60 barn (the other farm we own). It is horribly expensive to live and have horses in New York State, so folks, if you want a horse farm, come to Wisconsin. Just to give an idea of the prices, I paid 193,000 for my place, taking into consideration we are in a real estate DEPRESSION and we are dairy farmers, grappling with horribly depressed milk prices.

                            Anyways, back to the horse stalls, I talked with one fella who built the horse stalls, and it is much easier than I first thought. You use concrete bolts to get the wood into the concrete, basically that is it, and you build from there.

                            One place even had the old cow barn cleaner (this for horse people, is a "gutter" with moving track that moves all the doo-doo out "automatically" in front of the stalls still). So you don't have to wheel wheelbarrows. You would shovel the manure into the gutter right outside the stall, and then turn the barn cleaner on. The one barn that was using it, did not cover the gutter up. Instead, they piled used manure on the gutter infront of the stalls for the horse to walk on, I guess. didn't see it in action. Our cow barn has a barn cleaner (but it isn't working good), that I am considering fixing/keeping. In the meantime, I would plank over the gutter where the horse walks. My husband originally wanted to fill the gutter in with concrete and put the posts into that, but I have now enlightened him.

                            One person asked about the other pole buildings: One is big enough to ride in (would make a small indoor) but alas, the 1/4 end is concreted floor and built around with a heifer free stall. If one had the will, one could air gun the concrete floor out and remove the heifer stuff, but my husband is a dairy farmer. One of my convincing arguments to buy the place was to put steers in there, and his overflowing equipment, so it would be very greedy of me to take that building and use it all for myself as in indoor, unless I can convince him to use the "other" small pole shed for that. I could only lunge in the remaining area, but also someone mentioned a portable stall, and plan to use the other pole barn as a run in shed, using that portable stall to contain the horse to a specific area.


                            • #15
                              Good Luck on your conversion. I also live in WI and did put two stalls in a very OLD small dairy barn, they are so cute and unique. We also are dairy farmers ourselves but we milk out of a newer barn and the horses are kept in one of the older barns that was no longer being used.

                              Yes if you can I would keep the barn cleaner if it still has the conveyor in it. Many times when a farmer stops milking in the barn everything including the barn cleaner gets removed and sold, so if you still have it I would keep it and use it. I ended up filling my gutters in with gravel and then leveled off and then put mats over top of the concrete and filled in gutters. I only did this because this barn will really not make it forever, its just something to get by with for now.

                              We also did set anchors through the concrete to put up the stall walls, worked very well and is very sturdy.

                              As far as cheap land in WI it really depends on where you are in the state, I am in the Madison area and its very expensive but its also where most of the jobs are. There is a lot of pressure for us to sell our land for development, but we are still milking away