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Foaling barn ideas

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  • Foaling barn ideas

    Hi everyone!

    We are potentially renovating our old bank barn to be our mare and foal barn, and I was wondering if I could get some input!

    If you were to build your dream foaling barn, what would it include? How big would you make the stalls?

    We are limited by the existing structure, but I would still love to hear all of your ideas! This barn is in addition to our eight stall competition barn with arena, etc.

    The plan is that this would be the place for mares/ foals, as well as yearlings and two year olds.

    It will be about 6 stalls (am maybe thinking of just doing 5 and making the stalls bigger), with a tack room/ feed room (will be heated).

    I look forward to your feed back!

    Braeburn Farms
    Collingwood, ON


  • #2
    1. Stall size = 2 regular size stalls where, when it's weaning time, you can drop in a wall to subdivide making 2 stalls. (about 12ft x 20-24 ft)
    2. Foaling Camera
    3. Plenty of light (lights which can be directed into the darkest corners, in case vet needs lots of light to deal with "issues" i the middle of the night.
    4. Cordless phone so you can take phone into stall to help horse while speaking to vet.
    5. Heated (protected) wash rack in case you need to wash off mare/foal/horse
    6. Outside lighted parking (close to door) so vet quickly get stuff from his / her truck and see even in the darkest night.
    Now in Kentucky


    • #3
      Here is the one single thing that I found the most important, and useful design item (besides the wiring...absolutely everything in my barn is in heavy duty conduit).

      One of the foaling stalls opens out onto a small paddock. This paddock, in turn, is adjacent to the pasture. It was perfect for the first week - 10 days after foaling. Mare and foal had access to the big stall, with fans during hot weather, and could visit with the other mares/foals/yearlings over the fence. Once the mare was past the "new baby" stage, integration with the others was a complete non-event. It also facilitated the frequent meals lactating mares get. I also had one very compromised foal, whose turnout had to be very limited for 3 months. This "hospital paddock" was invaluable during that time. Easy to retrieve mare/foal several times per day, and the mare had the company of the others in the adjacent pasture.

      One other important consideration....Full length steel mesh doors (at least the doors, preferably the entire stall front) for ventilation. Remember that the foal will be below where the stall partitions are. Air quality is much worse down there, and and air exchange is slower. Full mesh helps immensely with this.
      "No matter how cynical I get its just not enough to keep up." Lily Tomlin


      • #4
        Here in FL I built my dream foaling shed. It would never work in the northern part of the country, but for me it was truly perfection.

        It is 20 by 24 feet. Three sides are solid up to a little over 4 feet, with bars above. Great lighting inside and out. Easy parking for the vet. Two ceiling fans keep things cool. The fourth side is divided into two 4 foot high aluminum mesh gates that are each 10 feet wide.

        I had a room built on one side where I sat before I got cameras. It had a little window that I could peep through to check the mare. It had room for a double door metal storage unit that held all my foaling essentials. I had a hot water on demand unit in the room, a comfy chair. One door in the stall opened onto a concrete covered porch where I did a lot of sitting and watching after the birth, with just a stall chain in the doorway and me in a lawn chair right outside where I had a full view of mama and foal. I spent the first 12 hours there and much of the next few days.

        Later when I installed cameras that were wired to a 4 camera monitor in the house, I did not have to sit in the room, but having all my supplies and hot water there was wonderful.

        My shed opened into a 1+ acre paddock. I like Kate's idea of a smaller paddock as a first step toward the outdoors.

        This shed was also wonderful for a horse in stall rest, as it gave them so much room.

        It was a bear to bed though, as I bed deeply and that meant a ton of straw. No wonder I have a bad back these days.
        Mary Lou


        Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


        • #5
          We are in the process now of remodeling our barn. It is an antique, but there are enough things I like about it that we decided to remodel rather than get a new one. The main thing I love is the 24 x 36 interior area for foaling. It is big enough that the mare and foal can move around, I don't have to worry about the mare getting cast while foaling (that happened one year, and moving a mare in hard labor is very, very difficult.) I have found it is great to have an interior area that big for foals who need time in because of an issue. The next great thing this has is an attached 12 x 24 stall and a 90' paddock. Similar to ahf's description, it is great for a mare/foal to get over the newbie protectiveness, or give a foal room to move but not necessarily go over hill and dale. I have a storage room for blankets, equipment, etc., and another 12 x 24 stall for a horse needing confinement for some reason, who can't have a paddock.
          Mystic Owl Sporthorses


          • #6
            I built two "perfect" foaling stalls....one was perfect for me but my mare hated it, so the other one was built perfect for her and not so much for me

            The first one was in the main barn 12X24 with a divider that could be put in to make it back into two 12X12 stalls. This foaling stall was separate from the other four stalls wih the tackroom and wash rack being between them. The tackroom is adjacent to the foaling stall and has a window that I can watch from the tack room. In the tackroom I had a futon couch and TV. The stall was also hardwired to cameras that I could watch in the house or online via marestare. The stall also opened onto a large paddock. Sadly, my mare hated being separate from her pasture mates so the stall never got used for foaling

            Therefore, I then retrofitted her thee sided run-in shed with a stall front so it is a 12X20 stall now that opens up to a paddock that then can open up to their pasture. This stall was also wired with cameras so I can watch in my house and online. This set up she likes, but it is a bit farther from my house and a bit trickier for the vet to drive down to if a problem occurs. However, it works just fine.

            Things that are must for me are cameras and online access of those cameras. I even watched on my smart phone!!!! How cool is that! I also bed deep in straw during foaling time which is a pain to clean but once the foal is doing well in the paddock and pasture I use less bedding as they always seem to prefer lying in the grass anyway. I also installed industrial sized fans in the corners of the stalls during the summer. Helps not only with temperature but is great to ward off flies. I keep my foaling essentials in a large plastic storage box that is moved to the front of the stall during foaling time and then stored in the tack room the rest of the year.

            Again, the best thing ever was cameras and internet access via marestare. This year I might double up with foal alert system as well. I missed one foaling at 8pm once when I took a shower! The foal alert would have sounded and I could have jumped out of the shower.
            Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


            • #7
              We are just renovating our old barn to be specifically a foaling barn. We have a cement floor so we put on a nonslip epoxy (the kind used on aircraft carriers) which we love. We have made our stalls 18 x 14 feet welded steel with slider doors, of course, and a feeder window, which is big enough for them to comfortably put their heads through without ever feeling trapped. The wood is tongue/groove and it will be stained next spring (too cold now). Eventually, each stall will have it's own window which I can open for ventilation/air flow. Each stall has it's own individually switched CFB light with a dimmer so I can control the amount of light needed (dim if we're just on foal watch, brighter when the mare is actively foaling). No point having all the lights on when we only need Stall A lit, so it's an energy savings and doesn't cost that much more to install. The aisleway has a separate bank of CFB lights. Every 2 stalls have a GFCI electrical outlet with cover in case the Vet needs a power source. I don't allow extension cords around horses.

              What's really neat about our stalls is that when we're finally done with the renovations, all stall cleaning will be mostly mechanized which is a HUGE timesaver. Each divider wall is wood in channels of welded steel frame. At the top of each wall are steel rollers and tracking. All we have to do is release the locker latches and the whole wall rolls out into the aisleway. The stalls become an open channel clear to an installed insulated door at the far end. We spend a few minutes pitchforking the bedding away from the walls so it makes a wide row in the middle, then open the exterior door, back the tractor down to the end of the row, and then lower the bucket and push/scoop the straw in one pass out to the manure pile. It literally takes 20 minutes to clean all the stalls down to bare mats.

              So the routine is, every morning after the mares/foals go out, we poop scoop off the top which takes just a few seconds per stall. But, every 5 days we do a complete clean-out by tractor, throw down some deodarizer/sanitizer, then roll a round bale of straw down the row and we have instantly bedded the stalls in 2 feet of fresh straw. Slide the walls back in place and lock the latches. Voila.

              I first saw this at my vet's barn - 30 stalls, 20 minutes to clean. The barn doesn't smell of ammonia and it just couldn't be simpler.

              You can't do this if you use shavings as a bedding, but I hate shavings and won't use it in my barn as I prefer to bed very deeply in wheat straw. Straw is cheap, easy to manage, readily available, composts in a couple months, and is regenerated yearly with each wheat crop. The greatest beauty about straw is all the moisture sinks to the bottom and the top always stays dry, so when the mares and foals lay down they're never laying in wet pee and never get chilled.

              We're not finished yet, but I'll be so pleased when it is!
              Last edited by rodawn; Nov. 1, 2012, 04:06 AM.
              Practice! Patience! Persistence!


              • #8
                What a good idea Rodawn! I'd love to see photos! Did you see this idea online, if so do you have a website to see these stalls in action?


                • #9
                  Each divider wall is wood in channels of welded steel frame. At the top of each wall are steel rollers and tracking. All we have to do is release the locker latches and the whole wall rolls out into the aisleway.
                  This is a great idea, and very similar to what a friend is doing with her foaling barn. She says it is a bit more expensive to put in, but it will really help them save on time and labor down the road. She apparently learned about this concept at her brother- in-law's QH operation.

                  How many stalls is yours, Rodawn? My friend is putting in 8 double sized stalls, and will use them both for foaling and weaning (2 weanlings together in a stall).


                  • #10
                    Rodawn, I too would really like to see photos. I'm a bad visualizer.

                    The only thing I don't think I've seen anyone say is I would want a vet area with stocks, a floor drain, and a little containment area off of the head for a foal (so the mare could be worked on while the baby is in nuzzling range and safely confined). A sink and counter would be great. Hot water and great lighting and plug-ins of course.
                    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                    • #11
                      Our barn is very old and we inherited it with the property so it's being reworked into a horse-barn. It isn't done yet and won't be for a couple more months yet. It's taking a bit longer because our stalls are custom sized at 18x14. Barn also has our multipurposed lounge/tack/grain room of 24x14 and hubby's "man cave" workshop.

                      I have been waiting patiently for a new barn and we are in the process of designing that, so I'm excited about that although it will be a couple years before we get around to building. It will have the same stall system, plus extra goodies I don't currently have in the old barn.

                      I took some photos of my vet's barn, whose concept we're copying. He saw the concept in Germany. Pictures of the Vet's barn:
                      Last edited by rodawn; Nov. 1, 2012, 03:34 PM.
                      Practice! Patience! Persistence!


                      • #12
                        My favoirite foaling place...my bed!

                        I am an interior space deisigner. Musts are , double stall on South side of barn with as much sunlight as possible (best anti microbial), good ventilation, coffeepot, refer, reading light plus observation windows and all the foaling kits stuff as others have mentioned. I made 2 windows in my tack/observation room next to the foaling stall. They are tall and skinny. One is just over the edge of my bed and the other is where the chair sits during the season. So, I can set the alarm..wake up, look without getting out of bed, reset the alarm and go back to sleep. Or if I am awake reading I can look out the window at the mare. For me cameras are a waste of money....you have to wake up to see them anyway so why not just look from a window and still be in bed, nice and cozy. Not expensive, we used ponycarbonite plexi glass, wrapped the windows in metal so not chewable and it looks great....


                        • #13
                          Cameras were the best investment I ever made. I also test milk so would have a pretty good idea of what night I'd be sleeping next to the monitor. I am a light sleeper and the sound on the cameras was as valuable as the picture. Mares tend to have routines. When they get close to foaling the routine changes and the restlessness becomes obvious (by sight and by sound). The change always woke me up in time to be at the barn just before the water broke. But, in the meantime I was in the comfort of my home in a bed and I was not distracting the mare with lots of close up checks.
                          Mary Lou


                          Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


                          • #14
                            Very neat! What a great way to save on labor.

                            Originally posted by rodawn View Post
                            Our barn is very old and we inherited it with the property so it's being reworked into a horse-barn. It isn't done yet and won't be for a couple more months yet. It's taking a bit longer because our stalls are custom sized at 18x14. Barn also has our multipurposed lounge/tack/grain room of 24x14 and hubby's "man cave" workshop.

                            I have been waiting patiently for a new barn and we are in the process of designing that, so I'm excited about that although it will be a couple years before we get around to building. It will have the same stall system, plus extra goodies I don't currently have in the old barn.

                            I took some photos of my vet's barn, whose concept we're copying. He saw the concept in Germany. Pictures of the Vet's barn:
                            Mary Lou


                            Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


                            • #15
                              Rodawn, I had thought of this for a future barn. If I were building from scratch, that's exactly how I'd do it.
                              Breeding & Sales
                              Facebook | YouTube


                              • #16
                                IMO this is another, to each their own situation. I don’t believe there is a set standard. I have found over the years that most things people do for horses do more for them then the horses. Again to each their own. We only foal out TB mares as many as 30+ in some years. All Thoroughbreds foal between early January to June, most being before May by design. Other then Florida the majority are foaled in states with cold winters. Having spent a number of years in Kentucky I have seen glorified palaces to utilitarian. The majority being the latter. We have several foaling stalls that are 14X14, and 12X12 and if needed 12X10. We have a number of nights when mares have foaled one after another which makes for an interesting evening. We have had our share of difficult births and a few that were tragic. None that would have gone any better or worse because of the size of the stall. That being said I like 14X14 anything bigger IMO is a waste of space and money. Again to each their own. All of our foaling stalls are on the south east facing side of our bank barn, the bigger stalls were built off that side. Using the principles of passive solar they warm up quickly in the winter morning sun. The floors are stone dust, I feel it gives the foals far better purchase when getting the hang of standing up and they drain very well. We only bed on straw, shavings or any other bedding of like is easily aspirated by the foals. We do not bed too deeply until the foal has the hang of getting up and would rather the little bugger have purchase on the stone dust to help the effort. I think if we were only foaling a few mares a year I would put a sliding door between stalls with the one on the other side being empty and freshly bedded. When the foal has a handle on getting up we could move the pair to that side easily and not have to clean and re-bed the foaling stall in the middle of the night. In cold climates it is good to have a “bank” of heat lamps hung from the ceiling. Foals will normally gravitate to the warmest area. But this is only necessary on really cold nights, IMO below 20. A big ole sweater works better then a foal blanket we have found the first night or two. They look a bit silly/cute but they don’t get “hung up” in it. Wireless foaling cams have gotten quite inexpensive, we purchases ours from here, http://www.spyshop2000.com/the_barn_special.htm and they work great. Hanging foam mats on the walls would be ideal also. The foals do have a tendency to “hit the wall” a few times until they get their legs under them. The first day the mare and foal are turned out in a porta-paddock not to far from the stalls. So they can easily be move to a clean area. Depending on how precocious the foal is determines when they will be turned out with the mare heard. Unless the weather is really bad and there are no “issues” never more then a day or two by and large. If there is a lot of snow on the ground we will bring them in at night other wise they stay out 24-7. Their pasture mates always get quite excited and inquisitive, no worries momma will keep them at a bay until things settle and harmony returns. If we were in a warmer climate we would have outside foaling pens on grass with foaling cams in each. Better environment to foal and far easier for the foal to get up and adapt. Again to each their own and this is all just my opinion.
                                An interesting study I read stated that horses are less likely to get cast in 10X10 stalls.
                                Last edited by gumtree; Nov. 2, 2012, 10:35 PM.