Barns: Fancy or Functional
By: By Keith Newton
Have you ever had a horse or cow tell you that they’re just not very comfortable with their living quarters? No, neither have I, but most people can tell if their animals are comfortable or not.
You don’t have to have a big fancy barn to have adequate facilities for horses and cows. My place is not fancy but it is very functional.
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to keep a horse or cow comfortable. Most horses and cows that live outside in the elements just need to get adequate shelter from the wind. If they can get out of the wind, they’ll be OK. But it is also important that they are on a good diet of grain and good hay when the weather is bad. My horses that are on pasture have a barn to get in, but 90 percent of the time when the weather is bad they’re not in it.
The main problem I see with barns is that people don’t build them in a good location. A barn needs to be accessible when the weather is bad. You need to be able to load and unload feed or hay, and you need to be able to get a vet or farrier to it at all times. I’m not saying you need to build your barn in the backyard but build it where you can get to it easily.
There are a lot of ways you can build a barn or work on existing buildings without mortgaging your farm. Most sawmills offer discount bundles of lumber that work great around the barn. When I built my first barn, I tore down old buildings that people didn’t want and salvaged the lumber from them.
You can go to auctions and buy gates and panels and old tin. Put a coat of paint on old tin and it will look like a new barn. And guess what … your horse won’t complain.
The next time you need to do some work on your barn and you’re a little strapped for cash, do some checking around and you can probably save yourself some money. Remember, you can keep a horse just as comfortable in a $2000 barn as you can in a $100,000 barn.
Always be safe and God bless,
Keith Newton is a farrier who lives in the Latham area.