Floors, dirt or cement? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 08-07-2011, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Question Floors, dirt or cement?

What is better, dirt floor barn or cement? Why? Iím building a barn this fall and would like input. What does the strong smell of ammonia do to a horse? I have been in a few stalls that burned my eyes!
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post #2 of 25 Old 08-07-2011, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by nkieffer61 View Post
What is better, dirt floor barn or cement? Why? Iím building a barn this fall and would like input.
I like dirt, but cement is easier to maintain in my opinion. With cement, though, you will need to have stall mats and good bedding to soften it up.

What does the strong smell of ammonia do to a horse? I have been in a few stalls that burned my eyes!
As you can imagine, ammonia is terrible for a horse's respiratory system. Good ventilation is one of the most critical pieces of any barn/stall that houses horses.

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post #3 of 25 Old 08-07-2011, 09:49 PM
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Cement. Horses can't paw a hole to the other side of the world in cement. Not to mention the ankle rolling sucks when trying to retrieve horse out of the stall and catch a foot on the side of above mentioned hole.

It may be more costly to begin with, but then you won't have the expense of hole filling later on (material + labour + time).

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post #4 of 25 Old 08-07-2011, 10:02 PM
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I haven't seen cement with horses, but I worked at a barn that had cement floors for bulls. There were several bulls that were lame. The people ended up putting a foot thick layer of shavings over the cement to make it softer.

Strong ammonia can cause pneumonia due to lung irritation which is then followed by bacterial infection. You need good ventilation in a barn.

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post #5 of 25 Old 08-07-2011, 10:15 PM
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We have cement with stall mats and bedding. Stalls are cleaned every morning before horses are brought in (in during day out at night, because of the heat) and there is no strong smell of ammonia. Good ventilation is key!

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post #6 of 25 Old 08-08-2011, 12:07 AM
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Stall mats with a solid base are the way to go. Ventilation, adequate bedding, good stall mucking practices, etc. are necessities.
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post #7 of 25 Old 08-08-2011, 12:28 AM
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Our barn has cement floors. I love it. SO much better than the dirt floor barn we used to board at. The dirt would dry out and become dust...and the dust coated and caked on EVERYTHING. Plus, all that dust is bad for the horse to breathe. Now that we are at a barn with cement floors....the dust is practically nonexistent. The floor is easy to clean, and horses that paw (ours don't) cant paw big ruts into the floor like they did at the barn with the dirt floor.

our stalls are dirt flooring covered with with rubber mats. The barn itself, wash bay, aisle, etc is cement flooring.
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post #8 of 25 Old 08-08-2011, 07:58 AM
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Regarding cement: I had to board, for a few years, over 20 years ago. Both barns were converted dairy barns so had cement floors.

One of my horses stocks up on cement (no mats back in those old country days) and they had to bed him really deep. 6" - 8" at least.

I prefer to have dirt floors with several inches of crush, then grid mats on top of that so at least some of the urine has a place to go to besides splattering up between solid mats and hitting me in the legs

My barn is only 24 X 40, and I do have solid mats down in the areas that are open and walkable. As someone else mentioned, they sure do keep the dust down.

Ammonia: As has already been mentioned, the ammonia from the urine can cause respiratory problems --- especially in the high heat & humidity many of us are experiencing and the air is "hanging heavy".

Humans with breathing problems can hardly deal with it, plus it's just plain unsanitary to leave the urine-soaked shavings go without being cleaned for too long.

I pick manure every day and have always deep-cleaned the stalls once a week. This summer has been that rule-breaker. I have two horses that "p** a river" and darn them, they wait until as soon as they come in their stalls at night. I have been deep-cleaning their stalls 2 -3 times a week. The other two get a sort-of-deep-clean twice a week.

Pouring cement is very expensive, so it will probably be a matter of what you can afford and what your personal preference will end up being

If I only had money for cement floors or ventilation, I would spend it on ventilation. Meaning those huge fans that suck the hot air out and are either put into the walls at each end of the barn or in the ceilings. My ex-SIL had them put in the ceiling of her barn and she loves them.
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post #9 of 25 Old 08-08-2011, 11:34 AM
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I absolutely loathe dirt floors, we went through the expense of cement and have rubber mats corner to corner in each stall...they are the best IMO. We also put down at least one bag of shavings about 2-3 inches deep. Our stalls are big though. Like 14-18. Practically birthing stalls. (I don't know the exact measurements of the stalls, but a typical one takes about 12 standard size stall mats to cover it.) It saves their feet and no weak spots in the flooring. I would be so scared of my horse twisting an ankle or something not to mention I twisted and ankle in a dirt floor stall before because I was unaware there was a hole.

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post #10 of 25 Old 08-08-2011, 12:39 PM
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I use the Stall Skins except for in one stall with the piggy horse which has mats because with the Skins deep bedding is required & Mr.Piggy requires a daily strip. With the skins urine flows through & only a small wet spot remains-that is removed daily.
I use a packed road bond type sand for the aisle. It gets really hard but still has good grip. I worry about a horse slipping or falling on concrete.
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