You’ve taken stock of your barn; it’s showing signs of wear and tear. Your fencing could also use a facelift. Or you finally have that slice of horse heaven and are ready to build for the first time. Either way, a horse barn plan can help. First, we’ll give you some horse barn and fencing plan basics. Then we’ll give you a listing of barn, barn-accessory and fencing resources.
Building Your Barn
Today’s barn options are many, from a pole barn with dirt floors to an insulated, padded horse heaven. You can build your own barn, buy a prefabricated model, or hire a company to custom-build your barn for you. Typically, building your own is the least expensive choice (if you know what you’re doing), a custom barn is your costliest choice, and a prefab barn lies in the middle of the cost scale. Which type of barn is right for you? Major considerations include type/materials, size, layout/design, cost, and add-ons. Here’s a quick look at each one.
• Type/materials. Barn type and materials go hand in hand. Consider a wood barn if you live in an area with a low fire risk, and would like to build the barn yourself or have one custom built. Note that wood-while cost effective for small barns-costs more and is more difficult to maintain than steel models. Prefabricated barns are made from steel, which is strong, reasonably priced, a breeze to keep up, and great for areas with high fire risk. Steel barns do, however, lack the character and warmth of a wood barn.
• Layout/design. Next, decide how many and what size stalls you need (the bigger the stall, the happier your horse will be), how much feed and hay storage you need, and the size you’d like your tack room to be (if any). Depending on your budget, you might want a wash rack/vet-care area, storage for wheelbarrows and other stable supplies, and even a bathroom or an office. Layout and design is the fun part of barn building, but if your “wants” exceed your budget, it’s easy to get frustrated. StableWise (425/788-4676; www.stablewise.com) can translate your needs into barn plans and provide you with blueprints. It also offers ready-made barn plans and barn-building information. Country Homes and Outbuildings (backroadhome.net) also offers a wide selection of ready-made barn plans.
•Cost. What you’ll pay for your barn varies widely, depending on the type of construction you use. A no-frills pole barn with a metal shell is around $4 per square foot. Custom barns can run you into six figures. Whatever you choose, be sure to factor in materials, insulation, excavation, grading, concrete foundation, water lines, stalls (including mats and fittings), and add-ons. Also consider location. If you build on an uneven surface, an excavator will charge more than if you build on a flat one. If you’re tapping into a preexisting well, be sure that move will meet code in your area. Consider, too, how far you’ll need to lay your water pipes.
•Add-ons. These include such construction features as overhangs, eaves, gutters, flooring, ceilings, artificial light, doors, windows, and skylights. Be sure to give yourself plenty of electrical outlets for clippers, tank heaters, etc. Also, decide if you’d like to budget for an automatic watering system, and/or an automatic fly system.
• Ventilation. Good ventilation is critical to your horse’s health and well-being. Enclosed barns harbor ammonia fumes (from urine), hay dust, and other debris. Constant exposure to such irritants can put your horse at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly known as heaves. To minimize this risk, place your barn perpendicular to prevailing breezes, install a high ceiling, and add plenty of windows. Carve inlets near the ground to draw air in, and place vents and windows up high to let the air out. If your budget can handle it, install a cupola with an air turbine on the roof.
• Natural light. The more light you let into your barn, the better. The sun’s ultraviolet rays kill disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and larvae of internal parasites. Again, this means plenty of windows. Another secret to good lighting is a raised center aisle (RCA) design, in which the roof is split into three parts. Two sides slope down to each eave, and a raised portion runs along the roof line. By placing windows in this raised portion, you can increase light and ventilation.
Selecting a Builder
Unless you’re doing all the work yourself, the next step is to select a builder. You can check out a nationwide builder. Or you may prefer to find a regional builder working in a multi-state region. To find a regional builder, pick up a local agriculture publication or go to a local horse expo, show, or other horse event.
You can also talk to a local builder. To find one, talk to other horse owners in your area, check tack/feed stores, hardware stores, and your phone book. You never know where you might find the best price and the right fit for your needs, so explore all your options. If you drive past a barn you like, ask the owner who built it. (Note: If you go with a regional or local builder, check out other barns the company has built, and ask for references.)
You might find that your barn builder also builds stalls, can finish your tack room, and/or lay a foundation. This may be more cost-effective than subcontracting all the work needed.
Make sure you feel comfortable working with the representative from the company you’ve chosen. Invariably, miscommunications occur, you’ll change your mind, or you’ll have new ideas for your barn, so choose someone you feel will work with you.
During construction, keep a close eye on the progress, but be flexible. For instance, if the salesman who sold you the barn hasn’t visited your premises, the builder may need to make some changes.
Finally, look for a company that will guarantee its work, and is established. A new company may give you a low bid, but might not be around later. If things start to go wrong, you’ll be out of luck.
If you keep your horse in a pasture all or part of the time, you’ll need good, solid fencing. You can either invest in barrier fencing, which physically keeps your horse contained, electric fencing, which your horse learns to respect after getting zapped, or a combination of the two.
Adult geldings and mares need a barrier fence at least five feet high; stallions need a fence at least six feet high.
Barrier fencing includes traditional wood; vinyl-coated, pressure-treated wood; hollow vinyl; high-tensile PVC rail; coated, high-tensile wire; high-density monofilament; wire mesh; and steel pipe.
• Traditional wood. A nice, white, post-and-rail (or post-and-board) fence is traditional and attractive, but is costly and high maintenance. You’ll need to paint your wood fence often, and repair patches where you horse may have chewed or rubbed. (Note: If you opt for a wood fence, you can add an electric wire to the top rail to keep your horse away.)
• Vinyl-coated, pressure-treated wood. This fencing type looks much like white, plain wood fencing, but actually sports a coat of vinyl. With this coating, you won’t need to paint (and repaint) your fence, and your horse won’t be tempted to chew on or rub against it.
• Hollow vinyl. This fencing type is all vinyl, with no wood core. Like vinyl-coated wood, it looks very much like a traditional wood fence. Although it’s less expensive than wood-based fences (plain or vinyl coated), it’s not as durable-and if it breaks, it can splinter into sharp-edged pieces.
• High-tensile PVC rail. This fencing consists of high-tensile-polymer or PVC rails that enclose 12.5-gauge steel wires. Each strip is attached directly onto pressure-treated or vinyl-coated wood posts and is secured with steel brackets. Your horse will find this fencing as easy to see as wood fencing. However, if he does hit the fence at speed, it’ll “bounce back” or flex on impact, reducing the chance he’ll hurt himself.
• Coated high-tensile wire. With this fencing, 12.5-gauge steel wire is coated with a strong synthetic polymer. This coating makes the wire easier for your horse to see than wire alone-but overall, this fencing has low visibility. Note that this fencing also has a low breaking strength, so if your horse runs through it, it’ll break, rather than hold, for safety’s sake. For this reason (and because of low visibility), high-tensile wire fencing is best when combined with an electric charge (described later).
• High-density monofilament. This fencing is similar to coated high-tensile wire, but is made from a synthetic monofilament (nylon or polyester), rather than poly-coated wire.
•Wire mesh. This fencing type consists of 6- to 14-gauge steel wire cables tied into a vertical or diamond pattern. Openings are typically two-by-four inches, preventing your horse from getting a hoof through. Also in this category is 12.5-gauge high-tensile woven-wire fencing, with 3-by-3¾-inch openings. Note: Your horse may not see this fencing type as well as wood and wood-look fencing. Add a white “sight board” on the top, so he doesn’t inadvertently run through the fence-or try to-and become injured.
•Steel pipe. This barrier fencing is made from steel pipe connected to steel posts. Traditionally, steel pipes were welded to posts and made from plain steel, which is prone to rust and corrosion. You can now find pipe fencing made from polymer-wrapped (and/or galvanized), powder-coated steel, which doesn’t rust. Such fencing also needs no welding. Instead, you simply use an Allen wrench to tighten hardware on specially made connectors at each post.
Electric fencing tends to be cheaper than barrier fencing, because you use an electric charge to contain your horse, rather than relying solely on a physical barrier, thus reducing the amount of material used. Also, the electric shock discourages your horse from touching the fence, which reduces wear and tear. You can use electric fencing alone or add it to barrier fencing to keep your horse from chewing or rubbing, for additional security, and/or for additional height.
There are several types of electric fencing; here’s a rundown.
• Electric poly-tape. Top-quality electric tape features 10 thick wires woven with polyethylene yarns. Look for poly yarn that’s treated to resist the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can weaken yarn over time. Invest in a wide tape-1½ to 2 inches-so your horse is sure to see it, and doesn’t accidentally run through it at speed.
• Electric braid. This fencing features a polyethylene core encased in polyester fibers. These fibers are braided with copper or stainless steel wires that conduct an electric charge. Electric-braid fencing offers high visibility and will give on impact.
• Electric-coated high-tensile wire. Like coated high-tensile wire (described earlier), this fencing features 12.5-gauge wire covered with polymer. To conduct electricity, metal fibers are added to the polymer coating.
•Electric rope. This fencing is made up of strong polyethylene fibers contain stainless-steel wires that conduct an electric charge. It’s cost effective and low maintenance.
American Steel Buildings (800) 511-3670; www.americansteelbuildings.com
AmeriStall (888) 234-BARN; www.ameristall.com
Castlebrook Barns (800) 522-2767; www.castlebrookbarns.com
Cleary Building (800) 373-5550; www.clearybuilding.com
Handi-Klasp/Weldy Enterprises (800) 628-4728; Handi-Klasp (weldyenterprises.com)
Heritage Building Systems (800) 643-5555; www.heritagebuildings.com
Kentucky Steel Buildings (800) 955-2765; www.kysteel.com
Lester Buildings (800) 826-4439; www.lesterbuildings.com
MD Barnmaster Inc. (800) 343-BARN; https://mdbarnmaster.com
Morton Buildings, Inc. (800) 444-7436; www.mortonbuildings.com
Universal Steel Structures (770) 449-6588; www.universalsteel.com
Walters Buildings (800) 558-7800; www.waltersbuildings.com
Wedgcor Steel Building Systems (303) 759-2255; www.wedgcor.com
Wick Buildings (855) 438-9425; www.wickbuildings.com
Ag-Co Inc. (800) 522-2426; www.ag-co.com
Armour Gates (800) 876-7706; www.armourgates.com
Behlen Country (800) 447-2751; www.behlencountry.com
Country Manufacturing (800) 335-1880; www.countrymfg.com
Farnam (800) 234-2269; www.farnam.com
J.W. Hall Enterprises Inc. (409) 925-7712; www.jwhall.com
Priefert Ranch Equipment (800) 527-8616; (903) 572-1741; www.preifert.com
Ramm Fence Systems Inc. (800) 434-8456; www.rammfence.com
Rockin J Equine (800) 765-7229; www.rockinjequine.com
Woodstar Products (800) 648-3415; www.woodstarproducts.com
Agromatic (800) 800-5824; (920) 922-1970; www.agromatic.net
Diamond Safety Concepts (800) 842-2914; (760) 942-2914; www.diamond-safety.com
Equustall Stable Floor (800) 788-6223; www.acf-environ.com
Flex-Mats (800) 506-0262; www.flexmats.com
Groundmaster Products Inc. (580) 798-6644; www.groundmasterequine.com
Humane Manufacturing LLC (608) 314-9294; www.humanerubberflooring.com
Linear Rubber Products Inc. (800) 558-4040; www.rubbermats.com
Promat Inc. (888) 337-6265; www.promatinc.com
RB Rubber Products (800) 525-5530; www.ultimaterb.com
Stall Skins (800) 400-3165; www.stallskins.com
Classic Equine Equipment (800) 444-7430; www.classic-equine.com
Brower Equipment (800) 553-1791; www.browerequip.com
Country Manufacturing (740) 694-9926; www.countrymfg.com
Nelson Manufacturing Co. (888) 844-6606; www.nelsonmfg.com
Ramm Equine Solutions (800) 434-8456; www.rammfence.com
Ritchie Industries Inc. (800) 747-0222; www.ritchiefount.com
Woodstar Products (800) 648-3415; www.woodstarproducts.com
Automatic Fly-Control Systems
Accent Fly and Mosquito Control (888) 398-8646; www.flycontrolsystems.com
Farnam (800) 234-2269; www.farnam.com
Pro-Tech Automatic Spray Systems (800) 776-5005;
Pyranha Inc. (800) 231-2966; www.pyranhainc.com
Shoo-Fly (352) 351-5858; www.shoo-fly.com
United Spray System (800) 950-4883; www.bugpage.com