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Farm owners accumulate a lot of things. From tack to stall cleaning supplies to pasture maintenance equipment, there is often an endless inventory of items that need a place to live.
When you plan your dream farm, it's important to consider every detail, not just the exciting elements like your stalls and riding arena. If you don't plan for storage, you'll find that housing the amount of stuff required to run your farm will quickly become overwhelming.
It’s fine to designate an area in your barn for storage, but farm owners may want to consider constructing a separate building.
“Storage need is dictated by how many animals are going to be on your property,” said Lorri Hayward of Hayward Designs.
While many barn owners often resort to incorporating a loft into their barns for their storage needs, a loft can actually inhibit the ventilation and natural light that you want to promote in your building. Lofts, specifically lofts designed for hay storage, are also a fire hazard.
When it comes to a functional tack room, you can build too small, but you cannot build too big. Since the tack room is often the center of activity in the barn, how well it’s designed will, to an extent, determine how smoothly your barn operates. A tack room should be no smaller than 12’ x 12’, the size of an average stall.
You may want to consider incorporating 9-foot ceilings into your tack room so you can build storage shelves into the walls and hang vertical storage units for saddles or blankets. Other considerations are:
- Bridle hooks
- Hanging hooks for tack cleaning
- Saddle rack for tack cleaning
- Saddle racks for storage
- Blanket racks for storage
- Small desk or office area for records
- Dresser or chest of drawers for storage
- Counter or table
- Washer and dryer
- Tack trunks
- Smooth concrete floors or durable wood flooring that’s easy to clean
- Heat and/or air conditioning
A single tack room can also serve as a utility and feed room.
A utility room is another storage option that will free up space in your tack room. An organized utility room can double as a feed room. Unlike tack rooms, a 12’ x 12’ space is ample room to contain the items that may live in a utility room, such as a washer, dryer and hot water heater. Other considerations for a utility room:
- 9’ ceilings for added storage space
- Smooth concrete flooring that slopes to a drain for easy clean up (also can be incorporated in tack room)
- 4’ wide doorways
- Countertops or tables
- Double basin utility sink
- Cabinets for storage
- Work bench
- Heat and/or air conditioning
While a feed room can be incorporated into either the tack or utility room, there are several design aspects that should be considered in order to keep feed from spoiling and pests from contaminating it.
If you are building a separate feed room, walls should fit tightly to the floor and there should be no holes or gaps in the walls or corners where the walls meet in order to keep rodents out. The walls and door should also be of a strong material and bolted to the floor to prevent a loose horse from breaking or moving them. Smooth concrete is the best flooring for a feed room, as it is easy to sweep clean and is rodent-proof. In a dry climate, feedbags can be set directly on the floor, but in humid climates bagged feed should be stacked on wooden pallets.
In areas that have a lot of rain, owners may want to consider making the floor of the feed room 4-6 inches higher than the main barn floor to prevent flooding. Other feed room tips:
- You should be able to close off the feed room from the rest of the barn, and the door must be secured with a HORSE PROOF LATCH.
- There are many appropriate feed containers including garbage cans, plastic bins, wooden containers and even old freezers. Whatever you store your feed in should be rodent-proof and inaccessible to horses if they should get loose and into the feed room.
- Putting your feed bins up on low platforms makes scooping less difficult.
Building all your storage space inside your barn is convenient, but in some situations outside storage is essential and efficient. A separate storage building keeps the barn safer and easier to manage. Storage buildings should be close to the main barn, and they don’t necessarily have to be as aesthetically pleasing.
“I like to keep bulk storage separate,” said Hayward. “All barns have front of the house and back of the house activities. The front of the house is what you see when you first drive up. You don’t want the back of the house activities to be seen right away.”
Even though storage buildings don’t have to be fancy, you should still construct them with the same care and thought as the barn. Good ventilation is just as essential in keeping your equipment in good working condition and your hay, feed and shavings from going bad. Considerations for storage buildings:
- The bulk of your hay storage should not be kept above your horses in a loft type setting, as it poses one of the greatest risks for barn fires. Instead, keep a small amount of hay in the barn for feeding and the bulk of it in a storage building away from the main barn. This building should have good ventilation and two sets of doors so you can pull the hay truck through and unload from both sides. Hay storage areas should not have windows, as sunlight will bleach out the hay.
- Shavings should be stored in a similar way, and it’s fine to store them in the same building as the hay.
- If vehicle storage is your main concern, make sure you keep oil and gasoline containers and other potentially hazardous materials a safe distance away from your hay, shavings or feed storage. The smallest spill can contaminate a large quantity of material and increases the potential for fires.
- Higher ceilings are better suited for storage barns because they allow more room for vertical storage as well as vehicle storage. An average garage has 13-foot ceilings, so an ideal storage barn’s ceiling is no shorter than that.
- Floor space of a storage barn varies depending on what and how much you are storing, but like other aspects of your construction, it’s better to build too big than too small.