Is Your Horse Barn Wearing the Right Hat? – Why Barn Roof Design Matters

Barns come in all shapes, styles and sizes and so do their roof designs. Selecting the right roof design matters and there’s a lot to know to get it right.

horse barn

In some instances, little attention is paid to whether the horse barn or indoor arena roof has the perfect pitch in design and construction until it’s too late. When calamity strikes and photos of a collapsed barn roof due to heavy snow loads from a storm or pictures of metal roofs peeled back by the wind like a can of sardines hit the newswire, then horse property owners may cast a worried look up at their own horse housing structures and regard the sturdiness of the apparent design.

If worrying about the perfect pitch for your new horse barn is ‘over your head’ then you are not alone. Engineers and architects spend years drafting their skills to include a mind-blowing number of mathematical formulas learning about structural design. Included in their education is how to calculate physical loads on headers and beams and other support systems within a structure.

Every building is different and should be treated on an individual basis. Depending on the geographical area where it is to be built and the present and possible future use of the structure, every horse barn needs to wear its own ’hat’. The initial load calculations work on the basis that the roof is flat and is then amended to take account of the slope or pitch of the roof and its design and material components.

 

The Loaded Question

If you are working with an established and experienced construction company that provides professionally engineered plans and follows legal protocols for building your barn, the nuances of roof pitch and roof support systems will be well-taken care of, and your new horse barn should weather adverse weather conditions just fine. But it doesn’t hurt to have a basic understanding of what’s important in roof design so you can ask the right questions with a decent level of knowledge on the topic.

Three types of load factor into the equations. Live load, dead or total load, and uplift load. As budget concerns also factor into every building design equation, it is easy to be tempted to cut corners by cutting costs and working close to tolerance margins.

Factoring loads will require consideration and review of all structural members of the barn. These items may include beams, rafters and headers, and walls. How these members are tied or joined together is also assessed, as obviously the strength and integrity of how these components fit together is often the weakest link.

roof structure

Total load refers to the passive load that the roof will carry such as the weight of the roof itself, pipe supports and any equipment likely to be added to the roof. This may include insulation attached to its underside or lights or other equipment suspended from its rafters or trusses.

Live load refers to temporary concerns the roof may endure. The most important of these considerations is snow load. If you’ve ever picked up a snow shovel and cleared pathways free of snow through a winter season, then you know that snow comes in different weights and different amounts of drift occur as a result of the amount of water in the snow. So expected wind speeds must also be taken into account when calculating live loads.

As if that isn’t enough temperature also factors into the mathematical formula as by laws of chemistry and physics the rate of ice melt, freeze and thaw and likely shedding rate of the load must be reviewed. And that’s not all.

How frequent is the snowfall likely to be? For example, a barn roof located in Alaska or the Yukon, may be piled high with snow for many months at a time, while an errant snowfall in the Carolinas is not likely to stick around for a long period. The cumulative effect matters. It’s all a matter of combinations and permutations in probability. But let’s not get buried in High School math class.

barn in snow

Ice weighs more than snow. Don’t forget that ice damming and the thermal loss from inside the building that can accentuate the issue of ice melt means how the roof and building is insulated, whether the interior of the building is heated, and the type of roof materials used, must also be incorporated by the savvy engineer into the planned design.

Barn design plans should also address where the entrances to the structure will be placed to ensure that access is possible when the roof sheds its snow load. Therefore, you see entry doors to barns, garages and other buildings placed at the gable ends. A porch roof, dormer roof or ice deflection system may be needed for doorways placed on the long side of the structure to ensure safe passage during snow and ice shed events.

Water in the form of anticipated rainfall should also be assessed. Gutters and drainage systems to take water away from the foundation of the building as it is shed off the roof are essential.

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Yes, its complicated to measure live load and yes, no wonder it is over most property owners’ heads, literally and figuratively.

But wait there’s more! Uplift load is created when the wind hits the walls of the structure and is then pushed to the roofline because of the impact. The angle of the roof and its dead load weight will determine how much uplift force is exacted by the wind. Sustained high wind speed will do more damage than wind that gusts at the same speed.

Issues with uplift load can be addressed with the use of heavier building materials, heavy duty metal ties or substantial mortise and tenon joinery (the strongest form of joinery in carpentry such as those used in timber frame barns) and the style of the roof. For example, a hip roof or circular roof will generally fare better in regions of high wind that an A shaped roof or shed roof.

Careful siting of the structure to address the prevailing winds, hurricane proofing ties and other special joinery methods can address the risk of wind damage given the rules are followed as to what is needed.

How well a building will tolerate disturbance from earthquakes and tremors is another risk that must be assessed in certain areas of the country.

 

The Slippery Slope

Local town councils and their building and planning departments generally oversee and govern the risk assessment and acceptable tolerances for any build. Armed with federal building codes and suggested tolerances for the risk assessed in their geographic regions due to weather, the local building inspector is well-equipped to answer questions and to monitor compliance with requirements.

However, micro-factors such as whether the property is at an extreme elevation and where the structure is to be sited should also be considered. Some examples: Is the structure is to be set on the brow or lee of a hill? What is its overall height? Will the structure be set to face north or with a gable end toward prevailing winds etc.?

If you employ an engineer or architect to design the barn and provide plans, expect them to ask lots of questions. These may include inquiries as to the exact site of the barn, its intended use present day and future, and whether its use will be strictly residential or commercial. The latter requiring considerably more safety measures be factored into the design. These additional considerations will include more than the risk tolerance of the roof. Details such as exit locations, numbers of exits and a myriad of other concerns will be analyzed.

When you purchase a prefabricated or modular horse barn from a reputable company the complicated math science will already have been factored into the designs. Their standard style offerings can be tweaked or adjusted as necessary for set up in your specific neighborhood and a full set of plans (certified by an engineer if needed) is usually available for a fee if a permit is required by your town building department.

barn plans

In certain states it is possible for the construction company to apply or ‘pull’ a permit from your town building department on your behalf. Don’t be shy to ask for advice when purchasing a barn. A good construction company will have assign a Project Manager you can liaise with directly to address any concerns and most questions can be answered before you put down a deposit on a structure.

Because the horse barn is generally considered an agricultural building it is not uncommon for no permit, permission, or review of the building plans to be required. As no oversight is undertaken by the town hierarchy the construction company or property owner is left to do as they please.

Sadly, by default this often results in ultimate adverse consequences in the soundness and integrity of the structure. The obvious ramifications of which are injury or death to humans, their horses, other livestock, pets, and possible damage or destruction to vehicles and equipment, neighboring or adjunct property.

 

Material Matters

Basic understanding of how the ‘hat your barn wears’ is designed and constructed will enable you to make better decisions in what materials you choose for the roof itself too. While different species of wood have different strengths, and grades of lumber offer variant levels of support, most horse owners are indifferent to such details, and these will be managed by the construction company and included in the drafted plans for the build and dictated by what products are locally available.

barn

Prospective barn owners worry about factors such as what color the roof is going to be and whether the roof will be sheathed with metal or coated with shingle. There will likely be discussions on whether the roof will be loud during hail and rainstorms disturbing life inside if metal is used, whether the roof should be insulated, and concerns about the likelihood shingles might blow off in high winds. But it is essential that basic tenets of safe construction are followed throughout the planning process of the design and that ultimate the build accurately follows those edicts.

Realizing that questions of load bearing values are all valid and need to be addressed and how they factor into the big picture in barn design will hopefully not be overlooked.

I speak from experience when I say if you make a mistake in roof design you will only do it once. Consult a professional! It’s worth trotting the extra mile.

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The Chicken Coop – The Top 10 Questions You Asked Google Answered

When you set about keeping chickens there are many questions as to how best to go about it to ensure it is a successful venture.

chick in hands

The Spring influx of fluffy cute chicks at the local feed store has many of us cooing and contemplating how a fresh egg supply from our own well-nurtured hens would add quality to our lives. Then of course there’s the friend or internet post that filters past us offering a flock of hens for free. Tempting indeed.

Whatever inspires your interest in keeping chickens in your backyard, the first place you probably go to get answers to your questions is our old friend Google. Based on their most popular searches on topic here’s a slightly warped and humorous look at the common questions asked and some answers that may surprise even the more experienced chicken keepers.

 

1. Are Chicken Coops Loud?

Obviously, the coop itself is a soundless entity but of course certain noises may emanate from the hens housed inside its confines.

Well, I wouldn’t suggest placing the chicken coop under your bedroom window. But your chickens probably won’t break out and party or invite other neighborhood chickens over to hang out, turn up the music and be discovered dancing the night away. But a rooster is a different story.

These lads often follow their own time schedule and cock-a-doodling can happen anytime, most usually though with the advent of Mother Nature’s cacophony of dawn birdsong for harmonizing help.

Aside from the rooster early wake up call, chickens are live critters and they are capable of making sounds. Cluck. Cluck. Chickens can argue with each other but generally are peaceful to be around and entertaining to watch. When distressed by loud noises or unusual activity in their environment they will usually run off and hide versus stand and fight with a perceived adversary.

nesting boxes

Beware pulling eggs out from under a nesting bird. This can cause loud commentary from the offended hen, and we can’t really blame her for that (and watch your fingers too). Coops designed with nesting boxes neatly provided with access from outside are a boon for quick egg collection and an additional bonus is you don’t have to step in the chicken poop mire or face down the ire of the broody hen to collect your supply.

 

2. What Size Chicken Coop Do I Need?

Chickens don’t follow the human foibles of wanting a big house to impress the neighbor. Whether they live in a coop the size of an apartment, a house, a mansion or even an RV style ‘tractor pull’ unit, the flock will likely be perfectly content to have shelter from the winds and wild weather events. But then of course the chicken isn’t usually the one holding a credit card or writing a check. Though hens have been seen sitting on a windowsill and watching TV, in general the shopper is of the human variety. For humans the size and aesthetic quality of the chicken coop that will likely sit in the view from a window of their house is likely to matter. Though it might be more prudent to focus on the actual comfort and design of the coop for daily functionality and cleaning.

inside chicken coop

If you don’t want your chickens bunked up like college students in a dormitory, and would like to allow them some space to feel the most comfortable with neighbors not of their choosing, the general rule of thumb is to allow 3 square feet of space per chicken inside the coop and 15 square feet of roaming space per chicken outside the coop. Here is an informative article on ‘How To Keep ‘Cluckingham Palace Residents Happily Housed’, for more info.

 

3. Do Chicken Coops Smell?

French beauty houses have not yet made an eau de parfum, cologne or perhaps better titled eau de toilette based on the olfactory delights of chicken coop aromas. The ‘nose’ of the perfumer would likely be offended by most smells to be found on a farm, and chickens do fit into the profile of farm critters.

That is not to say that chicken coops need to be hotbeds of stinky odors and chicken poop. Unless you live in a cold region of the country and are using the deep litter method of leaving hay, straw, or shavings on the chicken house floor to build up with manure and produce a heat source for the chickens in cold weather, the coop can be kept clean with a regular cleaning.

This is where the matter of ease of access and the type of flooring inside the coop comes to light.

Consider your kitchen floor laid with a smooth seamless smooth surface such as vinyl or tile versus an unsealed wide board rough lumber floor. Some floors are more cleanable than others. Then factor in whether the kitchen is littered with chairs, a table and even permanently fixed objects that must be cleaned around. Nooks and crannies are much harder to clean than open areas.

Nesting boxes that can be accessed from outside make cleaning easier, as do polyurea or other coated floors that are properly seamed under the wall of the henhouse and not seamed at the edge where the wall meets the interior space. The roosting bar or perches can be placed to allow the chickens their preferred elevated spot to sleep without being placed above the nesting boxes so that poop can be scooped up and cleaned easily. If the bar is supported at each end versus at intervals along its length, there is less impediment to cleaning.

The interior height of the chicken coop is also important. A chicken coop that is tiny will require more bending down and effort to clean than one that is tall enough for a human to stand up at full height to wield a broom or fork.

Passive ventilation for the coop will also keep the air healthier for the chickens during all seasons and allow obnoxious odors to escape with air movement throughout the structure 24/7. Gable vents, soffits and windows should all be protected from predator intrusion.

 

4. Can You Have 2 Chicken Coops?

Just as you can have more than one stable block or horse barn, you can have more than one coop. It all depends on how many horses you need or want to house, and how many chickens you want to keep.

chicken coops

You can have as many chicken coops as you like but the common reasons to have more than one is actually similar to the reason equestrians add more structures to their properties for horse housing:

  • They bought more stock after embarking on the initial foray into keeping animals at home and need more housing – after all, isn’t there always a reason for just a few more chickens.
  • The purpose of the second structure is for special needs such as quarantine or recovery space for injured or diseased stock – sadly these things happen and having a separate safe zone can be a godsend.
  • The enterprise includes breeding more stock so to protect moms and babies from adverse actions of other stock they have their own space – sometimes females without babies can ‘pick’ or ‘peck’ on the mom’s and/or their babies and cause harm to them despite a mother’s best protective actions.
  • There isn’t room on the property for one large structure so 2 are needed to house the needs of the numbers of critters owned.

 

5. Why are Amish Built Coops So Popular?

If you were contemplating giving your child driving lessons, would you use someone that was a bad driver or who had limited experience behind the wheel? Like their sibling, or their best school pal? If you were buying a high-end car, would you buy one designed by a team that were experienced in designing tractors? Probably not. You’d probably seek a source that was renowned and established for producing the best of what you want to buy.

amish built chicken coop

When it comes to buying most things to do with livestock and agricultural needs, the heritage of the Amish is world renowned for quality of craftsmanship and the use of sturdy materials. Artisan timber peg horse barns, log homes, sheds and storage needs aside, the chicken coop is a mainstay item in Amish lifestyle and has been for centuries.

When you combine Amish know how in design for form, fit and function, with modern day materials like LP Smartside siding and specialist floor coverings and utilize their knowledge and carpentry craftsmanship to build the coop, you can rest assured that the result will be stellar.

 

6. Chicken Coop with a Run?

The sad fact is that chickens are a tasty snack or even plaything for predators and keeping them confined to a covered run can help address safety and security concerns for the flock. Inevitably that chicken will cross the road given the opportunity. Consider the options of free range, fenced yard space or chicken pen as you would letting your kids loose in the garden.

Many of us grew up being told by our parents to go out and play in the garden or take our bike for a ride. I don’t know about you but when Mom thought us kids were bike riding just down to the end of the lane, we were in fact taking great adventures out further than that! When we headed out riding ponies or donkeys (yes, donkeys!) on long summer days and Mom told to stick to the bridlepaths, we were in fact traversing field and stream, riding village to village on busy narrow winding roads. Either playing at being John Wayne atop a steep ravine surveying the territory or trotting our little beasties as fast as possible to the local sweet shop.

Naturally, you can’t always keep your kids in a fenced yard and well protected and away from possible nefarious preying individuals or harm from moving traffic. Even the family dog may climb or jump a fence or dig out from its limited space in the garden given half the chance. Hens on the other hand are somewhat easier to confine.

chicken coop

If you are home and can keep watch over the flock during the day, then free range or a fenced yard may suit you fine. Losing the odd bird or seeing your flower garden rifled may not bother you. But if you want to ensure the flocks protection and safety, both from their own devices and that of predators a chicken run is a great idea.

And of course, you can always let them ‘out to play’ from time to time when you can supervise. Chickens are great entertainment. While they don’t break out a performance like an AGT (America’s Got Talent) contestant their antics and interactions can be fun to watch.

 

7. Are Chicken Coops Safe?

Well, I’ve never had one jump out and bite me but perhaps that’s not what the asker meant. Is a chicken coop safe for your chickens. I don’t know. Is it? You might ask is a particular car safe to drive or is a horse safe to ride? It will all depend on the car or the horse and in the ability, of you, the person involved in the activity to act and conduct yourself appropriately.

A sturdy and well-built coop, that offers bars or screens on windows, is set off the ground but secure from invasion with a run that is fenced down beneath grade to prevent digging in or chicken Houdini antics is a good start toward safe chicken housing. But it’s not much good if you leave the door open at night either because you forget or because you just can’t get home in time from work. You can address this issue by the way, by adding a secure run to the coop and having automatic door ‘hatches’ from the coop to the secure pen or run area on a timing device. Such devices can even be connected via GPS systems to adjust automatically for the daily minute changes in daylight hours.

Just as you can’t tell whether a car is safe to drive just by looking at it from a distance, an investigation into its road worthiness is required. In the case of the horse, you must watch it ‘go’ or trot up and down to even start the process of whether it is sound for the job, never mind whether it is going to be compliant and obedient to ride. Examine the chicken coop carefully from all aspects.

exterior box of chicken coop

Is a chicken coop safer than no chicken coop at all? Certainly. If you own a horse and let it free range it may be more likely than a chicken to travel far and wide, so unless you have a zillion acres of open range maybe not a good idea. It will likely get hurt or even stolen. Similarly, if your chicken keeping property is in an urban area, near woodland or in a vicinity where aerial or other predators are common (including free ranging neighborhood dogs), a covered fenced area or covered pen may be needed to keep your chickens as safe as possible.

Remember farming is a 24/7/365 activity. There are no ‘off’ days. Any time off the farm for the farmer requires organizing cover from persons qualified to undertake any animal husbandry chores. While keeping a few chickens doesn’t make you a full-fledged farmer, the responsibilities for any critter can be onerous, especially over time. A bit like getting a puppy for the children. Who walks and cares for the dog now!

 

8. Do Chicken Coops Need Electricity?

We could all live off the grid right? Well O.K., perhaps many of us would struggle without all the niceties that electricity provides. Chickens don’t have the same life experience from which to judge so like a kid that has never had a TV or screen to look at and doesn’t miss it in their life, you won’t find your chickens whining endlessly about how much they need electricity even if there are other chickens in the area that enjoy heated chicken housing, electric fans in summer.

Chicken keepers on the other hand may enjoy the provision of electricity to the hen house. While heating chicken houses in winter is not necessary for the chickens (indeed many experienced chicken keepers advocate against it), the option of having lights and power for commercial grade fans (safer than residential as motors are sealed from dust and hence fire risk is mitigated), and the power of power is often appreciated.

chicken coop with solar panel

Electricity can be supplied by many means aside from hard cable. Solar panels, battery hook-ups and other options exist to power the needs of the coop. Do some research. You’ll be surprised at how innovative the methods are for providing power to the coop.

 

9. A Chicken Coop Versus a Rabbit Hutch

You’ve probably heard the expression, “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” We’ll go with that because surprisingly a rabbit hutch can be converted into a chicken coop. I had to look it up. I’d never thought of it.

A rabbit hutch can be secure as a coop. It is usually off the ground and given it has a dark space for sleeping and enough room for the number of chickens that will reside within it. There should be a distinct lack of rabbits currently shacked up inside as the two species don’t co-habitate well. A bit like you and your mother-in-law.

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10. Why Are Chicken Coops Off the Ground?

Would you rather sleep on a Japanese tatami mat (a straw like mattress or carpet) on the floor or off the ground on a mattress on a cot or bed? While space restrictions, communal living spaces, the health of the human back and its alignment, and the idea that cooler temperatures exist at floor level than higher up in humid, hot climates are reasons for the traditional floor sleeping habit in Japan, the chicken enjoy no real benefit of such ideas.

For most Westerners the idea of sleeping on the floor also means too much bending down and trouble getting up, (this is a problem I have encountered with sleeping in a Japanese home). Space is not at such a premium on this side of the planet so aside from the Murphy bed, the bed that folds up into a wall for studio apartment living, most folks appreciate the comfort of a regular bed. Chickens also feel happier sleeping off the floor.

In fact, for chickens there are significant health issues that come with a coop at floor level.

The coop will be more prone to flooding, and water that stands beneath it may cause mold. There will be more pests such as mites, rats, and mice. Plus, there is a higher likelihood of issues with predators digging under the sleeping quarters and entering the coop at ground level. The chickens cannot do what all birds like to do for safety when they sleep, and perch as high up as they are able. This elevation can sometimes provide safety from predators that are not able to climb.

chicken coop with chickens outside

For the human caregiver, cleaning chores, egg collecting and feeding regimens are also easier when the coop is off the ground as less back breaking bending down is required.

 

The Horizon Structures Free Run-In Shed Finds Its Home in Union, Missouri

As temperatures of 105°F seared the landscape at Union, Missouri, Bill Wisdom and his family were pleased to see the small but mighty ‘mule’ from Horizon Structures trundle expertly up their driveway to deliver their free run-in shed.

“It was in place within 15 minutes of being offloaded from the truck. We had made a small driveway to the prepared level site pad and the driver set it efficiently just where we wanted it. An easy experience and no hitches despite us living off the main road,” explained Bill Wisdom, the proud new owner of the 10’x 20’ board and batten structure.

Bill and his wife Sara, and two daughters, 15-year-old Grace and 17-year-old Olivia, were the winners of the Horizon Structures Barn Giveaway Contest for 2022 and were delighted with the quality and craftsmanship of their new building.

“We’ve placed it in a 4-acre field that we have yet to fence. The field is partly trees and partly open and will be the home of my daughter Grace’s first horse. We have the posts in the ground, but the fencing is yet to be run, and meantime we have to buy the horse. Grace has been working at a local ranch as a stable hand and taking riding lessons to earn the money to buy her first horse. Her mother has a lot of experience with horses, so she will be helping in the selection process.”

Bill explained that his youngest daughter is planning to take High School classes in Equine Studies with the prospect of attending college to garner a degree in the subject afterward.

When asked if he had any experience or knowledge of Horizon Structures as the leading producer of modular horse barns in the country, Bill explained that he had been looking online for a shelter and came across Horizon during his search on You Tube.

“I was researching backyard barn options and came across local prefabricated barn builders and others. I saw the Horizon Structures products and saw the Blast into Spring 2022 Contest and thought why not enter. And now here we are! I don’t know how long we will have just one horse to use the shelter. My wife has always wanted to start a 501(c) rescue. She would love to offer shelter for all sorts of animals in the future.”

The menagerie of animals on the 18-acre property located on the outskirts of Union, Missouri, already includes 5 goats, 2 miniature donkeys and chickens.

“One of the goats and one of the donkeys is pregnant. So at least 2 more animals are on the way. And I plan to buy two peacocks. We also have two Great Pyrenees dogs that watch over them all.”

The Wisdoms have not always lived in Union. The property was purchased just over a year ago after the family sold their 2004 home in Ditmar that they had built.

“Our previous home was a ranch house and was set on two acres, and we always knew we wanted more space. When the market moved up and it was the right time to sell, we were able to sell our home there and found this property that had been sitting on the market a while, so we bought at a good price, and it was good timing.”

Working well with numbers comes easily to the couple, as Sara works for the Federal Reserve Bank and spends 95% of her time working from home remotely while Bill commutes 4 days a week to a stock brokerage house in St. Louis where he is the Director of Regulatory Compliance in Securities for the company.

Bill explained he enjoyed his downtime from his job working on their smallholding, plowing the driveway of snow in winter with his Kubota and making improvements to the property year-round.

“The temperatures in winter here regularly hit below zero, sometimes to -15°F, and snow is hit and miss but 8 to 10 inches of snowfall at a time is not unusual. The run-in shed will be the perfect shelter for the horse. We’ve placed the shed not too far from the house, so plans are to run water to the shed. We currently have an older stable that will house 3 horses, and a 30’ x 60’ pole barn that has a workshop and bathroom that is partitioned with an area for the goats and donkeys to take shelter. If we have needs in the future for more structures, I will definitely call Horizon. The team there has been a pleasure to deal with and we love their product!”

Commercial Builds of Pavilions, Pergolas and Gazebos

From firehouses to State Parks, corporate lunch spaces to community gardens, outdoor living structures that offer some form of protection from adverse wet weather, shelter from the hot sun and possibly storage for supplies, is always a welcome addition.

Deciding between the flexible pavilion that accommodates multi-size gatherings; the elegance of a commercial pergola to define an area of natural beauty and perhaps provide a park bench inside on which passers-by can sit and reflect, or showcasing events on an open commercial gazebo bandstand can improve the enjoyment of a community event and offer sincere benefits to the participants.

One thing is certain. A fixed outdoor living structure offers a permanent advantage over tents with their peg and line tripping issues, concrete lot damage with peg installation, and their ‘Wizard of Oz’ moments. All of which add up to a high-risk assessment with tent use for lawsuits being issued against the town or organization, from people becoming accidentally hurt while attending an event.

Here are a few tips to consider as you embark on embracing the outdoor living structure lifestyle for your project:

Costing and Capabilities

It is inevitable that the question of funding the outdoor living structure will come into play. The least expensive option is not always the best choice, so carefully consider the actual planned use of the space and identify future possible needs when it comes to sizing and siting.

For example, a pergola may be less expensive than a pavilion, but its use will be limited during poor weather. A summer shower can ruin an event, and if the structure is being used for winter holiday events (they make a beautiful gathering spot at vineyards and orchards for Fall harvest events and ski resort mixers on the slopes), it needs to have a roof.

Kitchen appliances and food/buffet dining set ups with hot plates, musicians’ equipment such as amplifiers and instruments, may require electrical service. Keeping these items safe and dry is essential. Thus, in these cases, a pavilion is a better choice than a commercial pergola.

On the other hand, a large gazebo can provide a ‘step up’ from the topography of a flat lawn or garden area, and highlight the event being held. Whether music is played, and singers perform, or speeches are being given, the sound will carry further afield and the audience will all have the opportunity to witness the participants in action.

The site that is chosen for placement of the structure should also be carefully considered.

A gravel path or garden surround can set off the structure adding aesthetic appeal and make access easy and mud free. But if the structure is placed near a pond or water source, there is a risk of flooding and wet ground causing even the most compacted gravel or stone base to move or subside.

Consider if vehicular access will be needed for placement of heavy items such as cookers or multiple items such as chairs and tables will need to be set up in the area and ensure that the structure is not placed in an area where it can be damaged by falling boughs from trees or excessive high winds.

Commercial or Residential… Start Your Outdoor Living Project HERE

Security Concerns and Storage Options

Lighting, fencing and security monitoring via a WIFI device or CC set up may be needed to ensure the structure remains unhindered during periods of inactivity. This is especially important if there are plans to house any supplies within the structure.

Securing a pavilion with overhead doors or curtains is a good way to protect the interior space from snow and bad weather, debris such as dead leaves and offers the ability to lock up the space to safely contain supplies such as tables and chairs and minimize the risk of vandalism or theft.

Corner members of structures can be protected from accidental damage from errant parking incidents with bollards or containers of flowers or shrubs.

 Pave It

Necessarily outdoor living structures used in a community setting will enjoy a lot of foot traffic during their use. Get ahead of the worn grass paths, muddy slip slide and possibility of lawsuits over people tripping or falling over with the installation of pavers or concrete.

Rubber pavers offer a good solution to sound mitigation, and stone or concrete (the latter can be laid with a special machine to both color the concrete and given an effect of paving if preferred to actual stone laying), are all good options.

Cover an apron area around the structure in addition to the undercover space for pergolas and pavilions and for gazebos similarly offer multiple paths and access from different directions to maximize freedom of movement around the structure during crowded events. This will help improve safety for the audience and for the performers and improve event management as it allows the ‘players’ orchestrating the provisions and attendees to come and go freely.

Pathways should be wide enough to allow passing of patrons and not be a single file option. Visitors may be pushing strollers or using wheelchairs, so consideration for disabilities and family use should be incorporated in the design. There is a litany of regulations in this regard, both Federal and State, so do your due diligence if the structure is in the public domain or to be utilized for public access.

Whatever ground surface cover you install make sure it will handle the application of salt or de-icing products if needed during winter and stay weed and maintenance free during summer. Bear in mind gravel paths do not handle snow blowing equipment or plowing well and paved surfaces cannot handle heavy equipment without cracking unless installed to premium cost specifications.

Making the right decision on materials and their application and specifications will help keep your labor costs down for many years, although an occasional reseal may be needed over time.

Roof Designs

The structure’s roof design and material will affect not just its ability to withstand high winds and snow loads, but also how rain, ice and snow are shed off the roof.

Guttering may be needed for a pavilion structure to mitigate dripping rain from the roofline, and the use of shingle versus metal roof products should be considered if icing and snow load is likely to be a problem.

Snow guards or ice guards should not be necessary as the interior/exterior temperature of the space covered by the outdoor living structure is similar but depending on use and location roof materials and design should be evaluated.

Light It Up

One of the great advantages of an outdoor living structure is it lends itself to installation of lights to add ambience and a practical aspect to use of the space from dusk into night.

The structure’s frame members can be hung with lights to achieve a romantic or party atmosphere and corner posts make perfect pillars for heavier lighting fixtures.

By making temporary lighting easy to accomplish with provision of fixed hooks, the hanging lights can be quickly removed and safely stored after events and plug-in speakers and lights can similarly be handled, while security cameras and lighting can remain year-round. The latter should be fastened at a height that makes them difficult to reach from the back of a pickup bed or without the use of a ladder.

Funding Ideas

Grants both private and public, funding from corporate entities or private individuals are all great means to fund the outdoor structure project. Larger manufacturers and providers of outdoor living structures often offer financing options, so don’t be shy to ask for help.

GSA compliant companies may be able to offer special discounts and terms.

Social media funding rounds on community platforms are also a great resource to explore if the community kitty needs replenishment to afford the purchase.

Cover an apron area around the structure in addition to the undercover space for pergolas and pavilions and for commercial gazebos similarly offer multiple paths and access from different directions to maximize freedom of movement around the structure during crowded events.

Chicken Keeping Options – From Free Range to Coops and Everything In Between

When you choose to keep your chickens safe and secure from predators by providing them with their own hen house or chicken coop, the confinement can alter everything from the nutritional benefit of their eggs to their ability to ward off mites by dusting themselves off in dirt.

The provision of a covered chicken run adjacent to the coop resolves some of the common issues with keeping chickens ‘cooped up’ but not all.

Advantages of the free-range method of chicken keeping are many. Perhaps the most significant is the amount of money it can save on purchase of commercial chicken feed. Of course, you will need to ‘hunt and peck’ to find their eggs around the garden and may miss a few from time to time or scavenge an old egg without realization that it is not fit to eat. But the added benefits of their prowess at finding their own dining delights cannot be overlooked.

The middle ground between free range and cooping chicken keeping is the use of a chicken tractor and/or fencing an area for their safety.

The chicken tractor has become increasingly popular as a viable option for homesteading on a small or large property.

The efficiency of chickens to ‘grub around’ and mitigate pesky insects and bugs notwithstanding, the undeniable fact is that a free-range chicken is at risk for becoming dinner or even worse, entertainment, for fauna further up the food chain.

There are advocates on both side of the chicken wire fence on this topic, and if you are confused as to what method is the best choice it is smart to look at your own individual nature rather than that of the birds.

While certain breeds of chickens may lend themselves better to ownership by the neophyte backyard chicken-keeper than others due to their friendliness and overall egg production quality and quantity, it is you, the owner, who will need to examine yourself as to which chicken-keeping preference you should favor.

Questions to ask yourself may include:

  • Do I have kids or other family members that will be upset by the loss of a bird or part of the flock over time?
  • How much time do I have to search for eggs?
  • Does my garden mean the world to me with flower beds and shrubs or will digging, foraging and dirt patches on the lawn cause no concern?
  • Do I have room to move the chicken tractor about and the inclination and equipment to do it?
  • How cleanable is a coop and what should I do to make sure if I choose a coop for housing the hens that it requires minimal labor?
  • Do I have dogs or other pets that will trouble the chickens?
  • Do I care what my chickens eat outside of commercial feed?
  • How much do bugs in the backyard bother me?
  • Will my kids be collecting eggs? An easy exterior collect coop can be a boon for busy families where you don’t want to walk inside the messy coop in your work shoes.
  • What wildlife is in my environment, and will predation be a major headache?
  • Can I lessen coop workload by using smart technology like coop doors on automatic timers? Can I afford these upgrades?
  • Does your garden offer natural shade options for hot weather and natural shelter in adverse or inclement weather?

Well, you get the idea. There are options but only you can choose the ones that will work best for your individual lifestyle.

Chores can quickly become onerous after the initial excitement of growing chicks up into adults that lay eggs for use in the home kitchen passes, despite the benefits of the ample egg supply of known provenance.

There is a litany of resources on the pros and cons of different chicken keeping methods so no need to repeat them here. But the choice of which to pick will become clear once you examine the realities of the options. Get informed before you start! It’s a lot easier than figuring it out as you go along.

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Barn Design Tips to Help Manage Horses on Stall Rest

Despite our best efforts horses often injure themselves or suffer illnesses that require a period of confinement in a stall. For the equine caregiver the task of managing a horse or pony over several days, weeks or even months to optimize their chances of making a full recovery by restricting exercise can be onerous task fraught with worry.

Thoughtful barn design features can help assuage the negatives associated with horse stall rest. Here are a few tips and some helpful advice on how to navigate the confinement period and keep your horse or pony as happy and healthy as possible.

Divide and Conquer

There are many good reasons to have at least one dividing stall wall in the barn adaptable for combining two stalls into one should needs require. Foaling out a mare; housing a mare and foal; accommodation for a large breed of horse such as a draft horse; housing two or more animals such as donkeys together. In addition, a double stall can provide flexibility in space for the horse that is in rehab and requires more than the usual 10’ x 12’ or 12’ x 12’ stable but is not yet healed enough for turnout.

To help prevent boredom for the horse this stall should be carefully located. Placement of this stall could be close to an area of high activity such as next to a wash stall or tack-up area, a view to an indoor or outside arena where horses are exercised, or at the end of a barn where the open entry way offers some form of entertainment with a view of the house, backyard pool, driveway, or road.

The Lanai Option

Provision of a Dutch door with access to a covered area with limited space outside the barn is a great way to limit the horse’s access to turnout while still providing freedom of movement and a change of view.

Often colloquially referred to as a lanai due to its similarity in features to the popular patio/veranda/porch seen in hot regions such as Florida and Hawaii, it usually features a roof for shelter from the sun and rain and may be screened in some way from pesky bugs if situated in an area where excessive heat and flying insects are a problem.

If the barn design includes and overhang, a simple option is to extend the overhang from 4’ or 6’ to 12’ adjacent to one or two stalls. This will allow enough area to be converted with gates or temporary fencing to make an outside/inside lanai area if a Dutch door egress is provided.

This area could include rubber mats placed over concrete or it could be left as a stonedust surface to allow the later addition of rubber mats or a similar comfort flooring if needed.

Hang Tight

It is possible that part of the horses’ rehabilitation and recovery will require suspending an IV fluid hanger to administrate medicines and supporting fluids. This is a system of pulleys, cleats and ropes that can be mounted as a hardware kit to a wood post on a barn.

All barns should be built with substantial framing members and wood pillars are ideal for mounting these IV fluid kits. Placement in a stall of an additional wood pillar in the center of a front or back wall can be useful for the purpose and if a single stall is converted to a double stall the center pillar may suffice for use. When installed IV fluid kits should be checked to ensure there is no likelihood of a tube, rope or pulley becoming caught up on a pillar or other obstacle.

It is also possible that a sling to keep the horse from putting too much weight on a joint, soft tissue area or hoof will be needed. Substantial additional weight-bearing lumber may need to be installed to accommodate the sling depending upon its design.

While there is no necessity to build a full recovery stall with padded walls and a full veterinary clinic set up, the inclusion of a few simple factors in horse barn design can make the stalls flexible to accommodate temporary medical needs.

Aside from veterinary aids the confined horse will also appreciate toys and other products to minimize boredom. Hanging toys, special feed dispensers and other distractions can go a long way to keeping your stalled equine content.

Hand Walking Areas

The requirement for regular hand walking and stretching exercises should be expected to be part of the rehabilitation protocol after any period of confinement for the horse.

A center aisle barn with a wide aisleway offers the perfect all-weather space to take those first baby steps toward recovery. The exterior doors can be shut for security or left open to facilitate extra room to circle the horse and turn around.

If rubber pavers or rubber mats are utilized to cushion the center aisle and protect the horse from slipping and sliding on a smooth concrete surface, or is s stonedust base is installed and compacted, the center aisle can provide a safe area for hand walking the horse during rehabilitation. Remember to avoid tight turns if the horse has suffered a leg, shoulder, or hip injury.

Power Up

Routine veterinary care and the elevated level of care needed in the case of a stalled horse during recovery may be aided by having additional power sources for equipment, and video monitoring with Wi-Fi access in the barn.

Electrical outlets conveniently located to the stall will minimize the use of electrical extensions and the risk associated with their use, as well as negate the need for the horse to be moved more than necessary for evaluation during recovery.

Monitoring systems ease the mind of the caregiver and can give 24/7 views of the activity of the horse so any necessary adjustments to set up or practices can be made and provide a valuable insight into the horse’s mental condition.

Chew On This

Installation of metal edges for protection from chewing of wood by the horse on all exposed right-angled surfaces and tops of Dutch doors is essential to protect the building from the mischief horses can dish out when stabled.

During periods of extended confinement, the equine occupant is highly likely to ‘rail’ on walls with his teeth, kick out or rear in frustration and chew on the ledges of windows and edges of posts.

Smart barn design with properly constructed kick walls, grilled front walls and protected surfaces can greatly lessen the chances of damage to either the horse or the structure.

Seal The Deal

Before you add a horse to the stable in a new barn always protect interior wood surfaces from both chewing and staining by the application of a sealant. Not only will this action keep the walls protected from unsightly stains and marks, but this will also make cleaning the stall easier to accomplish.

Keeping a stalled horse’s environment clean and healthy requires a lot of effort and any labor-saving practice is a good idea to install at the outset.

Fresh Air Everywhere

Fresh air is essential for good health of the horse and should be especially considered in the design of a horse barn. Passive ventilation such as wire covered soffits (this protects from birds setting up house in the barn), gable vents, ridge vents, cupolas, windows, and Dutch doors can all aid in airflow within the structure.

In hot climates supplementing the movement of air by mechanical means such as the installation of commercial grade fans either on the ceiling, floors, or walls, (commercial grade offer sealed motors that are protected from dust and debris for fire safety), may be required for additional help in moving air through the barn and keeping the horses comfortable.

A sick horse on stall rest will need even more help managing his body temperature than a healthy individual, and provision of both safe heating and cooling options should be incorporated into the barn plans if possible.

Resources

Barn design expertise can greatly aid in ensuring that whatever house housing you choose, it has the adaptability to address future needs for medical care.

Choose a construction company that offers a variety of barn styles and will work with you on the budget as well as the aesthetics and the use of modern labor-saving materials that can help defray the need for future repairs and repainting such as siding and roofing options. Don’t be shy to ask for advice from the staff at the company on how to optimize your new barn design to accommodate horses that become ill or require special needs. Specialist horse barn companies are usually horse folks themselves, and have a wealth of experience in the design of horse housing that they are happy to share to help you make the best decision for your individual needs.

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There are many awesome resources that address daily practices for caring for a horse on stall confinement. A suggested place to start is M Libraries, that offers supplemental notes on large animal surgery.

Keeping Chickens Chill in Hot Weather

As temperatures reach 85-90° F and high humidity compounds the ambient heat chickens are vulnerable to heat stress. Just as dogs pant when they are hot as they are unable to sweat to cool down through their coats and skin, chickens cannot sweat through their skin and feathered coated bodies and will pant when overheated. Learn how to keep chickens cool in summer and extreme heat below. 

Both species rely on their feet to dissipate heat and both species will move their tongues back and forth to try and cool down. Chickens will flap their combs and take their wings away from their bodies to mitigate the adverse effects of heat. Lost egg production, lethargy and inappetence are all signs of heat stress.

Chickens dissipate heat through their blood flow through the comb, wattles and limbs. If the chicken’s average temperature exceeds 103° F then this method of cooling the bird will be insufficient to keep it cool. A pale colored, panting bird is one that needs immediate attention.

Also, just as in canines the heavier the breed the more likely it is to suffer from heat stress. Death can result from severe dehydration and overheating, and appropriate measures should be taken to minimize the health risks to the flock during periods of extreme heat.

Choose Your Chicken Breed Wisely

Chickens that are used to constant hot temperatures and humidity generally fare better than those subject to random heat waves where their metabolism and habits have not become used to the climate.

Certain breeds are more heat tolerant than others. The Australian Orpington, the Rhode Island Red and the Campine are all examples of breeds that are good choices for regions where temperatures regularly exceed the 85° F mark.

Ventilation and Shade

Passive ventilation is essential in the coop. When aided by gable vents, securely protected open windows and doors, the airflow in the coop can be significantly improved. Doors should of course be secured closed at night.

Mechanical ventilation by a solar powered or hardwired fan can aid the airflow on very hot days. Be certain to place any wires in conduit and secure them in areas out of the reach of pecking birds. It is also prudent to utilize a commercial grade versus residential grade fan, as commercial fans have sealed motors that mitigate the risk of fire caused by dirt, dust and debris entering the motor of the unit.

Misters and sprinklers can also be used in the run or yard to offer cooling for the birds. Even if the chickens don’t get wet the cooled air will improve their oxygenation.

Shade from a tree or large bush can be helpful but the best practice is to have a secure covered run that allows the chickens the choice to seek their preferred spot to sit out of the sun.

In very hot climates an open-air coop is a good option, but it should be roofed and secure from predators.

Don’t Overcrowd

Chickens generally require 3-foot square coop space per chicken but in hotter climates allowance of a larger space 4–6-foot square is optimal to maximize airflow and avoid overcrowding that may result in heat stress.

Think of the difference in airflow you feel standing in a crowded subway car versus sitting on an open-air terrace with just a few companions.

No Deep Litter – Take the Duvet Off

In cold months the deep litter bedding method emanates heat that is valuable in keeping the flock warm. For obvious reasons this is not desirable during sweltering summer weather. A 2- or 3-inch litter of pine shavings offers a cooler coop environment.

Akin to us removing the duvet and switching in a flat cotton sheet on a bed, a clean fresh bed with minimum cover will help keep the inhabitant cool.

Get A Pool And/Or Dust Bath

Taking a dip in a kid’s paddle pool filled with cool water is welcomed by a hot chicken. Fun to watch but also an invaluable aid in cooling down the chicken’s body temperature, this is a great way to play.

There is some controversary about whether a chicken likes water baths, but if the chicken will use one this method of cooling it down can be effective.

Tossing the chicken in a chlorinated or salt swimming pool is not a good idea!

Dust baths can also be helpful in helping to keep chickens cool. The added advantage is that the right mix dust bath can also help eradicate or mitigate fleas and mites.

Dining Delights – Cuisine Matters

Freezing the chicken feed for one hour or so before feeding can help cool the chicken but also improves the desirability of the feed. This is especially useful for chickens that are lethargic and off their food.

Treat your chickens to frozen watermelon, berries and other high moisture content fruit and veggies. Be sure not to over supplement with these frozen treats as they are no substitute for the regular feed. Less than 12% of the chicken’s regular diet should be in the form of treats.

Cold Water

Cold fresh water is essential year-round but in summer it is ever more important. Keep all water in the shade and as cold as possible and offer multiple sources. A gallon of water per 7 chickens is the norm and providing many sources can encourage drinking.

Photo credit: diyncrafts.com

Ice can be put in the water to keep it cool.

Electrolytes can be added to the water if the chickens show signs of lethargy, but this should be an alternate source not the only source of water. As with horses and other animals it is essential that they have a free choice between the treated water and regular fresh water so their bodies do not become overloaded with minerals and salts.

Remember to clean the water containers periodically with a 10% bleach/90% water cleaning solution and rinse thoroughly.

Treatment For an Overheated Chicken

Effective and immediate reduction of the chicken’s body temperature is best affected by submerging it up to its neck in cool water.

Provision of ice-cold water with electrolytes, placement in an air-conditioned space in an animal carrier, crate or other confinement option or in a cool garage can make a big difference to a heat stressed bird.

Select the PERFECT Coop for Your Flock
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Good Reasons to Add a Water Feature to Your Outdoor Living Project

As you map out your fabulous new backyard project don’t forget to consider the addition of a outdoor living water feature. The gazebo, pergola or pavilion structure set amid a bounty of flower or vegetable beds, winding paths, green lawns, or succulent gardens will provide shade and shelter from the hot sun, but the inclusion of a water feature can elevate the enjoyment of the space to new heights.

In certain cultures, water is a central theme in any garden design and is given pride of place. For example, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean gardens consider water a primary focal point as it represents wisdom and renewal. While gardens in these regions were created as places for reflection, rituals and prayer, Zen gardens are dry spaces with no water. A ‘Short History of Water Gardening” written by Kit Knotts, explores the use of water for irrigation and the development of aquatic plants we have come to love such as the Lotus and the Water Lilly. The latter so ‘impressed’ the impressionist painter Claude Monet that he painted over 250 paintings of the plant at his home in Giverny, France.

A backyard water feature can be a small fountain, a rill or a large pond. A trickle or a ripple, a still reflective surface, or a waterfall of sound. Whatever your preference, the benefits of including moving water in a garden are many.

  • Improves air quality
  • Gentle sounds of running water are soothing and add a relaxing ambience and tranquility
  • The sound of moving water can mitigate neighborhood noise pollution
  • Softens hard landscape lines in the garden
  • Adds a textural element to the space
  • Can be used to water plants
  • Provide an eco-system for wildlife
  • Increases property value
  • Perfect garden for small urban spaces

A Variety of Options

The simplest outdoor living water feature to include in a garden is a bird bath. It requires no pumps or involved installation or excavation and will encourage wildlife to visit the garden. Water walls and rain curtains, pondless and standard waterfalls, scuppers, sconces, and water jets are all options to consider depending on your preference and budget.

The garden pond is a popular choice of water feature as its installation is relatively simple, but the amount of maintenance required should also be a consideration in the selection of a water feature. Running water will generally require less maintenance than still water to keep clean, but each feature will require some form of attention and care.

Fishing For Fish

Much pleasure can be derived from creating a fishpond and filling it with your favorite fish. Goldfish, Koi, Guppies, Minnows, Pond Loach and Molly Fish to name a few. But you will need to protect the fish from predators who see the pond as their perfect restaurant with plenty on the table.

Netting, fish line across the pond (doesn’t impair the view as much as netting), the inclusion in pond design of tunnels and caves and floating plants where the fish can hide, decoys, and lights and water sprayers hooked up to motion sensors, are all good methods to protect your fish habitat from unwanted intrusion from predators.

It’s not just birds like Blue Herons that will take advantage of the handy food source in the pond, raccoons and other night visitors including feral cats can also be a hazard to the well-being of your fish. Motion sensor products that emit light, sprays of water and noise are the best deterrent for these visitors.

The Natural Beauty of Aquatic Plant Life

Avid gardeners love the added dimension of water features as it broadens their opportunity to explore new plant life and learn new growing and nurturing habits for a myriad of flora.

Elegant Lotus plants and floating Water Lilies and Water Poppies add sophistication to the garden while other species such as Rodgers Flower and Water Smartweed are perfect for masking muddy spots and can be prevented from rooting and spreading by placing them in pots around the edge of the pond to curtail their inherent ability to quickly root and cover the floor of a pond.

Horsetail and Purple Pitcher offer height and the former is a medicinal plant that can be harvested as can Creeping Jenny.

Some plants actively help mitigate algae bloom in the pond. The purple Water Hyacinth being the most used pond plant of all for this reason. Others to consider are Water Lettuce and Pickerel. Certain plants actively help oxygenate the pool such as Water Iris and Dwarf Giant Papyrus offers the help of a natural water filter.

Mosquitoes can be a problem around any standing water and the provision of a water surface plant cover can help defray their ability to lay eggs on the water surface. Mosquito fern is a good choice for this purpose.

Variety – The Spice of Life

Whatever backyard water feature you choose to add to your garden design, the enjoyment of the outdoor space will be enhanced as water provides occupants with additional input to their senses of sight, sound, smell and even touch.

Picture yourself dining by a cooling mist of a waterfall ensconced in your screened gazebo or lounging under the dappled light of the pergola reading a good book listening to the gentle babble of a rill. We all need time to sit and be mindful, to reflect and to relax and unwind from the stress of our busy lives. Nature brings us gifts galore to help us. Why not meditate on adding a water feature to your outdoor design and enjoy its benefits.

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Beat The Heat Strategies in Horse Barn Design

Cold winter months may dampen the spirit with the arduous chores breaking ice, digging out from snowfall, and switching blankets on horses, but summer heat poses its own set of challenges.

Hot, humid days with their sultry still air can cause horses and their human caregivers to become dehydrated. The impact of direct sunlight can cause sunburn around sensitive areas of the horse such as eyes and muzzle. If you’ve ever seen a pink-nosed horse standing with his head over the water trough on a humid day trying to improve his own oxygen intake and cool down, then you’ll probably also experienced rushing to the pharmacy for diaper creams and sunblock supplies in an attempt to fix sunburn that your horse suffers as a result of his effort to stay cool.

As with all things health wise, prevention is better than cure. When considering how you design and set up your horse barn it’s smart to plan for those ‘dog days of summer’ and add barn ventilation features that will be useful daily to mitigate the negative effects of high temperatures and humid days.

Passive Ventilation and Mechanical Intervention

Cupolas, Monitor style horse barns with gable venting and a high ceiling with a long line of windows that can be opened, plus stall windows that can be opened in every stall can all aid in passive barn ventilation.

Siting the barn so that the sun arcs over the center of the building rather than along one side and for center aisle barns facing the entrance doors toward a prevailing summer breeze can all improve air circulation within the building.

Roof and wall insulation can further mitigate ambient heat from metal roofs and/or siding.

Mechanical intervention via commercial grade fans (any fan used in a barn should have a sealed/enclosed motor that is protected from dust), ceiling fans and fans located at the base of a cupola can all aid in moving air throughout the building.

The addition of shades on windows or shutters, can prevent the sun’s rays from entering the building and heating up the interior.

Shelter From Direct Sun

Horses turned out should have some form of shelter from direct sun. Ideally a large run-in shed that is sited to catch summer breezes without direct sun glare to its open side is best.

The addition of a grill protected window on the rear of the shed can improve airflow across the horses’ backs when they shelter inside the space.

A stand of mature trees, a wall of a large building that is close by a pasture may offer shade and some protection from the sun.

Figure out how to keep your horse cool and how you can manage your horses’ turnout times to minimize their exposure to sun during the heat of the day. The routine of turning horses out at night after dusk and bringing them in early in the morning works well if your pasture has no available shelter from the sun.

For horses prone to laminitis, grazing grass during night hours also minimizes the risk of hoof inflammation as the sugars are lowest in the grass stems during this time.

Water and Wash Stalls

Incorporating a designated wash stall within a barn may seem like a waste of space when stall space is at a premium, but it is a significant boon to have a wash stall available especially during the summer months.

Standing outside the barn with a hose at hand also works, but you will have to deal with the biting horseflies and won’t be able to escape the sun.

An outside wash stall space with a pavilion style roof can also serve well if a frost-free faucet or other water source is readily available outside.

A cold-water wash down using a sponge and bucket of water is also a great way to cool down a hot horse. Pay especial attention to the large muscle groups of the hindquarters and neck area.

Horses dehydrate quickly in hot weather so ensure a supply of fresh clean water whether the horse is inside or outside.

If you suspect your horse is overheated and application of cold water hasn’t lessened his respiratory rate after 15 minutes, then call the vet as this indicates sincere heat stress and requires medical intervention.

When designing your horse farm property or horse barn, a permanent year around water source is essential. It should be accessible, regularly cleaned and refilled to keep it fresh and prevented from icing up in winter or drying up or becoming contaminated with algae and other detritus in summer months.

Freedom to Choose ~ Let the Horse Decide

The beauty and benefit of adding Dutch doors to stalls that open to enclosures where the horse can decide it’s preferred spot to hang out during different times of day is a boon. The addition of an overhang to the barn design further enhances the opportunity to shelter from the sun and allows the horse to pick the best possible location for its comfort.

The inclusion of Dutch doors in the barn design can also facilitate additional airflow throughout the interior of the barn.

Moving still sultry air is essential to mitigate the negative effects of humidity on the horse’s ability to cool down and dispel body heat.

Riding High

Horses don’t get to choose when and where they are ridden. If you are riding high on your passion for working your horse in readiness for a competition, or schooling in a hot dusty outdoor arena focused on the task at hand, it is easy to overlook the stress you are subjecting your horse to by working him hard in hot weather.

Ensure your horse is fit enough for the job you ask him to do by building up to the workload. If possible, avoid riding during the hottest times of the day. Choose the shady forest trail over the hot sandy mountain ridge, pick showgrounds that have good facilities such as barns with mist fans outside, mature trees for shade etc. that is, use your common sense.

Take lots of breaks between schooling sessions, provide electrolytes either in an additional water bucket to his regular water supply, or by administration of electrolyte pastes if necessary.

Always wash sweat off a horse at the end of a workout or if he has sweated up in a stall as the latherin and salts/minerals in the coat will hamper the ability of his skin to breathe and to continue to perspire to cool down if sweat is left to dry. There are different types of ‘sweat. A horse that has lathered into a white foam versus a stall bound horse that is perspiring to help dispel body heat both require a thorough wash down but the need for intervention with electrolytes may be different.

Age Matters

Pay especial attention to the very young or older horses, as both ends of the age spectrum are more readily affected by dehydration and ill effects from high temperatures and humidity than other equine age groups. This is because their ability to regulate their body temperature is compromised.

Whatever age your horse, you owe it to him to pay extra attention to his needs during extreme weather conditions. And don’t forget to manage your own too!

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Let the Head Rule the Heart ~ Horse Barn Selection by Logic

Making the dream of owning your own horse barn a reality is not an easy task and let’s face it, building a horse barn is not an inexpensive endeavor. The size and scale of the structure that horses require for housing needs means a capital outlay that, despite financing options, horse owners often cannot contemplate being able to afford. But don’t despair, there is a logical way forward to realizing the dream of horse barn ownership.

Financial constraints should not dim the dream of keeping horses in the backyard for the horse lover or put equine aficionados off starting their own horse training/lesson or boarding business. But it is essential that the horse owner allow their head to rule their heart and ensure that logic is the driving force in their horse barn selection. Otherwise, there is a good chance that the entire project will fall apart, possibly even resulting in financial failure that requires foreclosure on a property.

Think Big Start Small

The most common mistake folks make when developing a horse property is to think too big. Going big can mean not going home with your horses at all. While budget overruns can pop up in any project, the savvy shopper nails down their prices with ‘to the penny’ quotes, not estimates with open ended language, and does their due diligence when it comes to who they choose to collaborate with on every aspect of the building process.

Planning Perfection

Success in any project will be determined by having a clear idea of the start and finish point of the venture and how each step will be achieved throughout the process. In terms of a horse property, areas for service lines such as water, electricity and possibly sewer, vehicular and pedestrian access, fencing needs and the horse barn itself all factor into the plan.Avoid Critical Mistakes When Choosing the BEST Location for Your New Barn READ THESE EXPERT TIPS

While fencing may be temporary and moved or added to later with the use of electric rope/wire, and overhead electric power lines can be moved and new wells drilled, the reality is it is not easy to move a substantial structure like a barn. Even if you have the stalwart Amish attitude and manpower to make it happen. Aside from a run-in shed with tow hooks installed on its corners that facilitate moving the structure from A to B with a tractor or large ATV/UTV, the barn’s positioning and size will likely dictate the rest.

Barns Big and Small

When on the hunt for a horse barn builder search for a company that can provide barns big and small in a myriad of designs. This will provide maximum choice as well as offer a great deal of flexibility later if you decide to add to the initial design and want buildings to match.

For example, a straight shed-row barn can easily be added to later with adjacent buildings placed to either side in an ‘L’ or ‘U’ configuration to create a courtyard to the inside. A neighborhood of large run-in sheds placed in a line can provide hay and equipment storage opposite a center aisle barn built in the future but be used in the short term as shelter in fields and placed later in the perfect position to serve as storage or even be finished across their open sides as quarantine stalls in a location set distant from the main barn.

There are many advantages to working with a modular construction company over a stick-built on-site construction crew. Two key factors are the accuracy on pricing and the ease with which the design and details can be ‘nailed down’ too. Shopping for a new horse barn should be painless and fun. Choose your collaborative partner with due diligence, to ensure a happy experience.

There probably isn’t any simpler or less stressful way to add a new barn to your property. Delivery is straightforward, site prep minimal and there is no upheaval caused by the yard becoming a worksite with all the negatives of noise, mess and traffic that entails.

Think Outside the Box

The advantages of working with a modular/prefabricated barn building company are without question the nailed down price, and the almost instant set up and readiness for use as soon as Day 1 (for a run-in or shedrow barn) but typically not later than 1 week (for a modular, center aisle barn) after arrival. Monitor barns that arrive in three sections via truck and then are cleverly placed 2 in parallel with the 3rd on top offer a neat way to have the advantages of a center aisle barn in a budget friendly manner.

Consider the placement of each structure in relation to its future neighbor barns carefully. Dutch doors that open to large runs outside can save on labor cleaning stalls and moving horses back and forth to pastures. They can also offer an ideal ‘dry lot’ for equines prone to laminitis or in rehabilitation following an injury they may have sustained that requires limited freedom of movement during recovery.

The Indoor Arena Expense

A great way to utilize your planned riding arena space is to first finish it regarding footing and drainage as an outdoor ring and provide in advance any special requirements for the addition of covering it as an indoor when funds allow.

These factors may include increasing the overall size of the ring to facilitate an apron around the building later, laying in services such as electric and water to the site, and leaving plenty of space around the area for construction equipment such as cranes and large trucks.

It may be prudent to avoid siting the outdoor arena close to neighbors’ property lines or mature trees where their roots may compromise construction, or their swaying canopies pose a hazard to the structure during high winds. Ensure the location offers sufficient space for parking and tractor access ideally on multiple sides of the building for arena grooming later, as well as plenty of room for construction material deliveries that will be required for the big build.

The Budget Bear

Unless you are blessed with unlimited financial resources managing the budget for your backyard horse property project or envisioned full-blown horse boarding and training enterprise is an absolute necessity.

Most of us must deal with unexpected increases in running costs such as hay and feed prices, electric hikes, pasture management expenses and wear and tear on the property such as driveways and fences. The more logic you apply now to how these direct and indirect costs will be managed and how they factor into the capital outlay you anticipate for the new barn and horse property development, the better off you will ultimately be managing the issues that will surely arise.

The most significant component of running any successful business is cash flow. If you have good income but high costs too, eventually the lack of profit margin will limit not just your opportunity to expand your business or horse owning project, but it could also lead to a cash crunch crisis that takes you down a road nobody wants to travel.

Be realistic with your expectations when it comes to building a horse barn and equine property development. There is a great deal of pleasure in building as you go and doing some of the work yourself along the way. Over time many initial ideas become irrelevant or impractical and needs and wants do change as more experience is gained in managing a life with horses in your care, custody, and control.

When building a barn work within your budget and immediate needs to get what you need now and add what you want later. Remember, going big can mean not going home with your horses at all.

Don’t be afraid to dream but at the same time, don’t be tempted to jump in with all four hooves and build too big out of the gate if your funds are limited. Stay the course and plan your best route but take it one fence at a time.