Do you need help designing and building a barn for your horses or livestock? We would love to help you and if you want, have lots of ideas to make life more comfortable for your animals and easier for you.
Here are some photos of our two horses, Romeo and Legend. We have a lot of fun with them in our own neighborhood and in Acadia National Park, aka Horse Heaven!
I’ve had horse fever all my life and have spent many hours dreaming of the perfect barn, paddock and pasture. What is best for the horse? What is most practical for the horse’s caregivers? If you are thinking about building a barn, I would highly recommend you start by reading Paddock Paradise by Jaime Jackson.
A typical barn has a hay loft overhead, stalls underneath, a tack room, and a large central alley leading to an exit at each end of the barn. The average horse stands alone in a box stall in a dusty barn for at least half of his life. He is fed two to three meals a day. His caregivers need to lead him out of the stall and hand walk him out to the paddock or pasture. The set up for feeding, watering, and cleaning out the stall is inefficient. It could be so much better for the horses and for the people who care for them.
The location of the barn is very important. The ideal is for each stall to open straight out into a large paddock or pasture so your horses can come and go at will 24/7 just as they would in the wild. It also ensures that your horses will never be trapped in a fire. Try to locate your barn on a high spot where there is good drainage and so you can travel downhill with a load of manure.
This may be debatable for some but many vets recommend a free choice method of feeding. Does your horse put on weight easily, then look for a way to make your horse work for his food, just as he would have to in the wild. Your horse’s food should be freely available in small quantities over a 24 hour period. Horses are grazing animals; they are healthiest when they have a little something in their stomaches at all times. I have a Belgian cross and am constantly experimenting with ways to keep him fed without over feeding him.
Feed storage is very important. The feed needs to be stored in a dry, well ventilated and secure room, with as little natural light as possible. Hay is very slippery and conveyors are heavy and potentially dangerous. You could attach the conveyor to a winch to lower and raise it and you could put a solid railing on either side of the conveyor to prevent someone from slipping and falling out of the hay loft.
Access to the feed storage and to the area where the feed is delivered to your horses should be convenient and safe. A straight, not too steep inside stair is ideal. Ladders and outside stairs can be dangerous. Consider installing a trap door over each stall to make delivering the hay more convenient. I am thinking of installing a shaft, like an elevator shaft, with a solid and smooth wire mesh at the bottom in each stall. The hay would be loaded at the top, directly from the hay loft. The horse would have to pull the hay out through the wire mesh at ground level and in small amounts. There would be nothing for the horse to get cut on plus they would be less likely to take an entire flake, shake it all over the stall and soil it.
Prepare for emergencies and make it easy for a non horse person to take care of your horse in a pinch. If your horse has access to the out of doors 24/7, there will be much less need to clean out the stall and a non horse person can deliver the feed without coming into contact with your horse. I discourage my horses from soiling the stalls by not using shavings. Horses urinate in shavings because they don’t like to have the urine splash on their legs. I put a pile of shavings outside of the stall to encourage my horses to urinate there. It is very effective. They seem quite comfortable sleeping on the bare wood floors or in a sunny spot out of doors.
Manure management is another major consideration to which a lot of careful thought should be given. The key thing is to figure out a way to make it as easy as possible and to store the manure in such a way that you won’t pollute the water supply and create flies.
The bottom line is that each barn needs to be designed to suit the site as well as the horse’s and owner’s needs. You will not only end up with a better, safer, and more efficient barn by taking the time to plan it out carefully, you will also save time and also money.
Please call Daggett Builders, Inc 207 354 6177. We would love to help!