How to Build a Barn

Two Methods:Choosing a SiteBuilding the Barn

Barns provide housing for farm animals and storage for the equipment used to care for them. A properly designed and built barn can save time, money and effort, while serving as a comfortable and pleasant place to work in. Here are some things to consider when building your barn.

Method 1
Choosing a Site

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    Know the building and zoning codes for your area. These will determine what kind of barn you can or can't build and provide a starting point for planning your barn.
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    Choose a location that's well drained. Ideally, you want to build a barn on a site with enough slope for water to drain away, but not so much slope that it takes soil with it.
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    Check which way the wind blows. Spend time at your prospective site studying the wind patterns to find which way the wind usually blows the strongest from. Once you determine the prevailing direction, plan the barn layout to be at a 45 degree angle to this direction so that you'll have excellent air circulation without turning the barn's center aisle into a wind tunnel.
    • If the wind blows equally strong from all 4 directions an equal amount of the time, consider building a barn in a square layout with an entrance on each side. You can then open and close entryways as needed to provide adequate ventilation.

Method 2
Building the Barn

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    Organize the barn features according to how you work. Place the task rooms so that the tasks you do the most are clustered together and those you do least are furthest away. Clustering animal stalls together also makes it easier to clean the stalls and dispose of the manure in an efficient manner.
    • If you have a large number of animal stalls, cluster them around the tack and feed rooms.
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    Put in a good floor. Using slab concrete for the base floor provides a smooth surface for doorways and makes sweeping easier, while making it harder for animals to dig under stall partitions. However, concrete can be hard on animal hooves, so it should be covered with asphalt or rubber pavers on the center aisle and layers of gravel and clay in animal stalls.
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    Build wide center aisles and stalls. At a minimum, center aisles should be 12 feet (3.7 meters) wide, although 14-foot (4.2-meter) wide center aisles allow added room for moving animals and equipment. Stalls should be at least 12 feet square, and preferably 14 feet square, with the rafters at least 10 feet (3 meters) off the floor to give animals adequate room to exercise without walking in their own excrement.
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    Provide plenty of air and light. Good air flow keeps farm animals healthy, while good lighting discourages flies from congregating and makes the barn a better place for people to work in. Build your barn with adequate vent windows, placed out of the animals' reach, and add 1 or 2 exhaust fans to help move the air. Supplement the light from the windows with individual stall lights and rows of fluorescent lights in the center aisle.
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    Have adequate access to water and electricity. Ideally, light switches, electric outlets and water spigots should be clustered between each pair of stalls, allowing you to fill water buckets conveniently and not need to use extension cords.
    • You should have at least one 220-volt outlet in addition to 110-volt outlets, for such things as hot-water heaters, clothes dryers or other specialized equipment requiring them.
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    Provide adequate cleaning stations. An outdoor wash stall needs little more than an enclosure and running water to clean animals, while an indoor cleaning stall can be set up to clean yourself, your boots and animal equipment as well as the animals themselves, along with storage cabinets to provide ready access to animal brushes and cleaning gear.
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    Keep tack and feed rooms separate. Keeping tack and feed rooms separate keeps the tack from being covered with feed dust. It also allows for putting storage cabinets in each room to hold related items.
    • You can also put a small refrigerator in the tack room to store animal medications that require refrigeration, as well as a sink for mixing those medications.
    • The feed room should have a week's worth of grain and a day's worth of hay, with the rest stored in a separate building. (Storing more hay than that in the barn may raise your fire insurance premium; some insurers won't cover barns used to store hay.)
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    Use the right doors. For the main barn doors, paired sliding doors that open the width of the center aisle will last longer without sagging, while admitting light even when closed. (If the barn is being built in areas where flies are a problem, hinged screen doors inside will help keep the flies out.) Stall doors should be hinged, and feature wooden lower sections and ventilation bars above.
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    Provide rooms for your own convenience, too. A separate utility room to store stall cleaning tools will help keep the tack and feed rooms cleaner, while a restroom will save you and your farmhand the trouble of running back to the house and tracking mud there if you need to go while working in the barn.


  • Be sure anyone you hire to design or build your barn has his or her primary experience in building barns and is knowledgeable about the requirements as outlined above.

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Categories: Landscaping and Outdoor Building