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Hi there! My husband and I found our dream property last September and decided it was finally time to convert to the country life.. the best part of the property was a beautiful, historic 2 story barn.
Unfortunately, it burned to the ground a month after we moved in. Luckily, aside from a few cats, there were no animals inside.
Naturally we’re making plans to rebuild in the spring. We’re planning on a 36x40 pole barn. I am hoping to use our insurance money wisely.. we may consider a slightly smaller barn to accommodate certain features.
As we’re inexperienced with livestock but hope to someday have a horse or 2, a couple of goats/sheep, maybe a beef cow or 2, etc- I was wondering what advice would you offer to the novice? Anything from structural advice, inside layout, size of the stalls, size for tack/feed room for the hobbyist, any particularly helpful upgrades or gadgets you find useful in your barn, placement of water access, preferred flooring style.. even considering what type of gravel or surface for dry lot.. any little tidbit you might offer would be greatly appreciated!
 

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WELCOME to the Forum...........

I have a pole barn myself.
I can't make comment on the cattle and what their needs are as we don't have any.
Goats we had but they were separate housed from the horse barn so...no experience their either to combine.
We had a company put up the "pole structure" but my husband and I did all the stall design and creating a finished product ourselves.
So...a few questions..

How far apart are your poles going to be spaced as those poles are fantastic stall corners so here comes part of those dimensions...
I would strongly recommend extending that barn to 48 feet in length cause anything concerning building is done in multiples of 12 and cheaper than off size numbers such as 40 feet will be was told to me by our pole barn company.
I dug out our cost forms to see the difference in price and found based on my numbers from years ago, going the 8' extra to bring you to a even 48' would be an additional $300...that was it and a whole lot more space cause it isn't just 8' but 8' by 36' of space...

So, because your pole barn is {now} 36x40 is not what your finished product will be...
Do ask your barn supplier what the inside of the pole size will be...the usable space you build in...
There is always a bit of "over" on a pole barn...or are they measuring edge of roof to edge of roof already?:unsure:

From our own experience, either insulate the roof or lay plywood under the metal roof so you reduce noise, heated area by sun baking on it in summer and the condensation build-up and dripping you also get in winter.
A rafter height a minimum of 10' so easy access for storing a horse trailer underneath, getting a delivery of a hay truck as close to your feed storage area as possible, and most cause if you do get horses and you have one who rears under the barn he not bonk his head..height also allows heat to rise.
I'm in Florida so good ventilation is a must so plan how you will achieve that but also the ability to close the barn against storms and driving rains and bitter winds and cold.

So on our barn our poles are 12' apart. That gave me 12' wide stalls, and being a really nice size for horses is 12x12...that is what we made.
My horses are near 16 hands and fit very comfortably and I have had a 17+ hand Clyde in that stall size and he laid down and slept with no issues of cramped so all those who make larger stalls...kind of overkill to me.
Most don't need more than 12'x12' and many can go with 12'x10' too...10'x10' to me are to small for horses sized as ours are.
Remember your base size correlates with the spacing of those poles as they are massive and sunk deep.
For us, a pole barn is considered moveable as long as you not concrete the poles in the ground so we are not taxed on a permanent structure either.
Poles are pressure treated but we also painted what was to be buried with think it was a tar product to preserve the wood even more.
Build your barn on a raised pad of dirt to help with rain/snow runoff out and away...we raised out barn 2' and wish now with the settling of the ground it was 3' - 4' higher...sounds ridiculous but amazing how much rain that large roof shall dump on the ground and how fast it can follow a walking trail into the barn area. :rolleyes: Raised has eliminated much of what would be flooding...(y)
Decide what kind of flooring you want when you make that pad to build on.
My feed storage stall, well my entire barn is dirt floor and the dust that filters to where my square bales are stored is crazy many, many years later from building it is still a layer of dust...
I would have had no problem with a fully concreted base for the barn as it is best flooding deterrent if done properly but then it also makes you taxable as concrete is "permanent"...stalls can be made to be very animal friendly but also ease in cleaning too.
Put a ceiling in your feed stall if you can to keep birds and critters from defecating on your hay and walls of some sort to safeguard your food from being visited by animals of all species.
Lighting is another no-no for us if we want to not pay land taxes for a permanent structure...same as water.
We have them but they are not "in" or attached to the barn but right next to the barn positioned on free-standing 4x4 posts.
A short length of hose if you plan on watering in stalls, my horses are not locked in so a large trough with automatic waterer meets my needs.
LED spotlights are cheap use, do not get hot and we only use them if feeding at dark, otherwise not on.
My lights turn on by a switch in the garage we flip and the place is ablaze in bright lights.
I clean stalls mid-day when needed and with natural light through the open stall back wall no lights are needed.
Our stall walls are combination of 2x8, 2x10 planks 4' high then with a livestock panel bought at Tractor Supply on top securely fastened gives me a finished wall a bit over 8' tall.
Our horses can see each other, we get great air flow but no one is in another's face during feeding time so no fighting.
Place stall doors/openings if stalls are 12', place the opening at the 8' mark to 12', or a 4' opening and allows the stall door to swing in or out flush to a wall.
Using this configuration also gives you enough wall space to hang 2 buckets for water and a feed bucket in every stall and keeps the horses from pestering their neighbor if one is in eating and another is loose in the barn looking for trouble.
Your 36' wide allows you to do many configurations underneath of center aisle, or stalls and storage or stalls, storage and then a enormous overhang you can utilize as weather protection and not have to let the horses access the stalls continually...also allows for back-to back stalls with a smaller covered area "alley" in front of each stall so you not get wet feeding during bad weather conditions and your stalls stay dry with just enough to deter driving rains.

I know there are many here who have designed and built their own so more ideas on how to do and how to do a layout.
Some here also did not do individual stall space but more a common area the animals share but that not work for me with a bully of one horse and my other will not fight back to keep the bully out of his food...for me that is a issue.

Consider making a journal to record your progress...
A picture book and storyline told...

Enjoy your project.
🐴...
 

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Building a new barn is such an exciting endeavor! I'm sorry that you lost the old barn. I've never built a new barn, so I'll leave those comments to others with experience.

I will say, that perhaps start out with one species of livestock and slowly build from there. Horses, goats and cows all require the basics of food/water/shelter, but they all have their special needs too. If you are not experienced in livestock care (forgive me if you are) it's better to slowly ease into the reality that is farm life. Better to have a smaller herd number in the beginning than being positively overwhelmed from the get go.

I wish you every success and it would be completely great if you shared your journey here with us so we can come along for the ride too!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
WELCOME to the Forum...........

I have a pole barn myself.
I can't make comment on the cattle and what their needs are as we don't have any.
Goats we had but they were separate housed from the horse barn so...no experience their either to combine.
We had a company put up the "pole structure" but my husband and I did all the stall design and creating a finished product ourselves.
So...a few questions..

How far apart are your poles going to be spaced as those poles are fantastic stall corners so here comes part of those dimensions...
I would strongly recommend extending that barn to 48 feet in length cause anything concerning building is done in multiples of 12 and cheaper than off size numbers such as 40 feet will be was told to me by our pole barn company.
I dug out our cost forms to see the difference in price and found based on my numbers from years ago, going the 8' extra to bring you to a even 48' would be an additional $300...that was it and a whole lot more space cause it isn't just 8' but 8' by 36' of space...

So, because your pole barn is {now} 36x40 is not what your finished product will be...
Do ask your barn supplier what the inside of the pole size will be...the usable space you build in...
There is always a bit of "over" on a pole barn...or are they measuring edge of roof to edge of roof already?:unsure:

From our own experience, either insulate the roof or lay plywood under the metal roof so you reduce noise, heated area by sun baking on it in summer and the condensation build-up and dripping you also get in winter.
A rafter height a minimum of 10' so easy access for storing a horse trailer underneath, getting a delivery of a hay truck as close to your feed storage area as possible, and most cause if you do get horses and you have one who rears under the barn he not bonk his head..height also allows heat to rise.
I'm in Florida so good ventilation is a must so plan how you will achieve that but also the ability to close the barn against storms and driving rains and bitter winds and cold.

So on our barn our poles are 12' apart. That gave me 12' wide stalls, and being a really nice size for horses is 12x12...that is what we made.
My horses are near 16 hands and fit very comfortably and I have had a 17+ hand Clyde in that stall size and he laid down and slept with no issues of cramped so all those who make larger stalls...kind of overkill to me.
Most don't need more than 12'x12' and many can go with 12'x10' too...10'x10' to me are to small for horses sized as ours are.
Remember your base size correlates with the spacing of those poles as they are massive and sunk deep.
For us, a pole barn is considered moveable as long as you not concrete the poles in the ground so we are not taxed on a permanent structure either.
Poles are pressure treated but we also painted what was to be buried with think it was a tar product to preserve the wood even more.
Build your barn on a raised pad of dirt to help with rain/snow runoff out and away...we raised out barn 2' and wish now with the settling of the ground it was 3' - 4' higher...sounds ridiculous but amazing how much rain that large roof shall dump on the ground and how fast it can follow a walking trail into the barn area. :rolleyes: Raised has eliminated much of what would be flooding...(y)
Decide what kind of flooring you want when you make that pad to build on.
My feed storage stall, well my entire barn is dirt floor and the dust that filters to where my square bales are stored is crazy many, many years later from building it is still a layer of dust...
I would have had no problem with a fully concreted base for the barn as it is best flooding deterrent if done properly but then it also makes you taxable as concrete is "permanent"...stalls can be made to be very animal friendly but also ease in cleaning too.
Put a ceiling in your feed stall if you can to keep birds and critters from defecating on your hay and walls of some sort to safeguard your food from being visited by animals of all species.
Lighting is another no-no for us if we want to not pay land taxes for a permanent structure...same as water.
We have them but they are not "in" or attached to the barn but right next to the barn positioned on free-standing 4x4 posts.
A short length of hose if you plan on watering in stalls, my horses are not locked in so a large trough with automatic waterer meets my needs.
LED spotlights are cheap use, do not get hot and we only use them if feeding at dark, otherwise not on.
My lights turn on by a switch in the garage we flip and the place is ablaze in bright lights.
I clean stalls mid-day when needed and with natural light through the open stall back wall no lights are needed.
Our stall walls are combination of 2x8, 2x10 planks 4' high then with a livestock panel bought at Tractor Supply on top securely fastened gives me a finished wall a bit over 8' tall.
Our horses can see each other, we get great air flow but no one is in another's face during feeding time so no fighting.
Place stall doors/openings if stalls are 12', place the opening at the 8' mark to 12', or a 4' opening and allows the stall door to swing in or out flush to a wall.
Using this configuration also gives you enough wall space to hang 2 buckets for water and a feed bucket in every stall and keeps the horses from pestering their neighbor if one is in eating and another is loose in the barn looking for trouble.
Your 36' wide allows you to do many configurations underneath of center aisle, or stalls and storage or stalls, storage and then a enormous overhang you can utilize as weather protection and not have to let the horses access the stalls continually...also allows for back-to back stalls with a smaller covered area "alley" in front of each stall so you not get wet feeding during bad weather conditions and your stalls stay dry with just enough to deter driving rains.

I know there are many here who have designed and built their own so more ideas on how to do and how to do a layout.
Some here also did not do individual stall space but more a common area the animals share but that not work for me with a bully of one horse and my other will not fight back to keep the bully out of his food...for me that is a issue.

Consider making a journal to record your progress...
A picture book and storyline told...

Enjoy your project.
🐴...
Thank you so much for the detailed response!! There are so many golden nuggets in your post!
I hadn’t considered making a journal, either. I think I’ll do that as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Building a new barn is such an exciting endeavor! I'm sorry that you lost the old barn. I've never built a new barn, so I'll leave those comments to others with experience.

I will say, that perhaps start out with one species of livestock and slowly build from there. Horses, goats and cows all require the basics of food/water/shelter, but they all have their special needs too. If you are not experienced in livestock care (forgive me if you are) it's better to slowly ease into the reality that is farm life. Better to have a smaller herd number in the beginning than being positively overwhelmed from the get go.

I wish you every success and it would be completely great if you shared your journey here with us so we can come along for the ride too!
Thank you! We definitely plan on taking it slow.. my daughter needs about 6 more month of riding lessons before I’d considering taking the dive into horse ownership. I am looking forward to some chickens this spring though.
 

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Interesting. What was the cause of the barn fire so others could avoid it?
Honestly, we’re not entirely sure. It was dry as a bone and the previous owner left it full of hay and lots of various other debris. The fire chief said it was probably a spark off of burned out lightbulb (the lights were on and the previous owner had those old, spiral type light bulbs that can spark when they burn out) or a rodent chewed through a wire and caused a spark that lit it up. The dang thing was so dry it was gone almost before we noticed it. People could see the fire for miles around.. it was pretty traumatic. Spent the following day buying all new fire extinguishers for the house and outbuildings and new detectors for house. One of those things you just can’t put off when you move.. we should have had the electrical inspected in that old barn as well as changed out those bulbs.. hindsight and all, I guess.
 

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1. Install a 220 breaker box with the maximum allowable circuits for that particular box.

1.1. Put ALL of the wiring in non chewable conduit.

1.2. it will be tough to figure out where to put wall sockets if you don’t put stalls in right away but perhaps an electrician can help you figure that out and do the wiring accordingly.

2. We have insulation in the barn ceiling and the overhang. It stops the sweat from the metal from dripping down, it‘s a noise deterrent, especially with a metal roof.

3. Exhaust fans in the roof or at the peak of the walls might be something to consider.

4. my horse barn is 24 x 40, we have a frost-free spigot outside, at both ends of the barn. If they are not installed correctly underground, they will freeze without a doubt. We cover the handles if it’s going to rain then freeze so the handles won’t get a layer of ice on them.

5. Decide how many stalls you want for horses and make them big enough for comfort. There are varying opinions about that on this forum, lollol. My minimum is 12 x 14 and my Walking Horses are quite comfortable. 14 x 14 would be even better but that wasn’t possible in my case.

6. Are you building a one story barn? Decide where you want hay storage and if you want if walled off from the rest of the barn with a firewall.

7. Put gutters and downspouts on the barn and add water sluices under the downspouts to push the water away from the barn. My barn is 17 years old and has seen rains that go on for several days. It has never taken on water.

8. Flooring is another big debate. I hate cement in a barn - hate it—. I have several inches of crush through the entire barn with mats on top; my stalls have grid mats because I don’t like solid mats in the stalls. The holes do fill with shavings but the urine still drains thru, into the gravel below.

9. Type of horse stalls is another debate. I ended up keeping my temporary pipe panel stalls because my barn ended up being smaller than I wanted and they provide good air flow.

9.1. Hardwood kickboards need installed against metal walls. Pipe panel stalls also need kickboards to preven horses from sticking their legs where they don’t belong.

10. Put enough windows in.

10.1 Think about how many man doors you need and also how many 10’ or bigger sliding doors. One of those big sliding doors should be aimed at the paddock/pasture for the horses. One of my stalls is the run-in from the main pasture. It’s a pass-thru stall but was once used as a regular stall when I had four horses. That stall stays open or partially open to the paddock, unless the weather really tanks like it did last week, then I close the big door.

10.1.1 It really pays to have an overhang above this door - It really pays:)

11. There’s a LOT of responsibility involved with each type of livestock you mention - each having different requirements. Being new to country life, I would not recommend jumping into all of them at the same time. it would be better for the animals if you pick one Kind and give yourself a year’s worth of learning curve before venturing into something else. Others may disagree but that is my opinion:)
 

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Stalls should have a nominal size 12X12 to fit most horses - If you can, I would put a "walk-in" area on one end/side. Probably sized of two stalls (12X24). Put this on the side of the barn where the prevailing and most storm winds are blocked (if you are new to the area, ask an old farmer/rancher and/or look at other barns in the area) This will work best if you have cattle and is also good for horses if you want them to have a walk-in area for more than one. I don't like stalls with narrow doors if more than one horse can access them because a dominant animal can block others in and hurt them.

What is the weather like most of the time? If it gets very cold, you may need the barn more enclosed, but a good option for multiple animals that are typically kept out and allowed to build winter coats (not shown/clipped during winter) is keeping one end of the barn "walk-in" and divide it as needed with fence panels. Enclose one end and sides use sliding or garage door for large opening, possibly walk through door from outside and inside to tack/feed area. If possible, divide tack and feed areas to keep critters attracted to feed away from tack. If you need to be able to enclose the livestock end (open), then have wide openings (8' min if more than one horse or cow per enclosure) with doors that open over the solid wall parts.

Plan for hay storage - if you have another building that can hold hay that is probably better (less fire risk) and you only move over a few bales at a time. How much tack do you have? I have a 12X12 tack room that also houses the well pump/pressure tank and it is too small (not sufficient storage) to comfortably hold feed and all the saddles and other equipment, farrier tools, etc.(will be remodeled at some point after the pasture fences are rebuilt)
 
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