MILLERSBURG, Ohio – Although a cold, windy day kept some faint-hearted equine owners at home where it was warm, a hardy group of 14 people turned out for the 2001 edition of the Equine Facility Tour sponsored by OSU Extension, Holmes county.
The first stop on the tour was the Aden Schlabach farm. Schlabach explained that when he decided to remodel his dairy barn, he needed to move the horses out of the barn.
Prior to beginning construction on his new barn last winter, he visited several other facilities to see what they were like. In fact, the decision to install side curtains on the barn came from a visit to Jacob Kanagy’s farm during the 2000 Equine Facilities tour.
What works. “I saw the curtains at Jake’s last year and I got the idea there,” Schlabach said. “They are cheaper than windows and healthier for the horses.”
Schlabach thinks the tours are a good idea. “You see different barns and get different ideas and different opinions. It helps to visit other horse people and see what works and what doesn’t work,” he said.
The new barn, which measures 36 feet by 56 feet, has six box stalls, five tie stalls, a tack area and area for a watering trough.
The stall partitions are designed to slide in and out of channels so that the pen size can be changed if needed, or the partitions can be removed if he decides to use the structure for another purpose.
While he has a concrete aisle in the center of the barn, Schlabach found that a layer of gravel and asphalt grindings underneath the bedding provides a firm base for the stalls.
No digging. He also installed a 2-foot wide piece of belting at the front of the tie stalls to keep the horses from digging out the stalls. He added that the barn was designed so that it could be cleaned out with a skid loader.
The barn also has a loft for hay storage and a granary. Schlabach installed doors on both ends of the loft to make it easier to put hay and straw into the barn.
He added that in addition to vents at each end of the barn, a 16-inch overhang between the barn and the roof provides another source of ventilation for the barn. He covered the opening with screen to keep the birds out of the barn.
Schlabach farm. The next stop was the 44 feet by 60 feet draft horse barn on the John R. Schlabach farm. The two-story structure has five 14-by-14 box stalls and four tie stalls.
Schlabach said that he made the aisles 16 feet wide because it was easier to maneuver equipment inside the barn. He also installed an overhead door at the entrance and a sliding door out into the pasture area.
He installed drinking cups inside the barn to give the horses access to clean, fresh water throughout the day. Two bins outside provide storage for grain while hay and straw are stored in a bank barn.
The second story of the horse barn is used to store the family’s buggies or for church services and other events.
Remodeling planned. He also plans to remodel the bank barn to provide additional stalls for his herd of Belgians.
Schlabach added that he tries to foal his mares out on pasture, and also provides run-in sheds in the pastures. Since the 8 feet by 16 feet shelters face east, they make a good windbreak for the horses or provide shelter when it is cold, wet and rainy or snowing heavily. They typically hold two adult horses or five yearlings, depending on the breed and the size of the horse.
Schlabach said that giving the horses access to mineral feeders out in the pasture keeps them from chewing on their pens.
Miller’s miniatures. When Joe L. Miller decided to build a new structure to house his herd of miniature horses, he not only looked at ideas for horse barns, but he also applied the knowledge he gained when building facilities to house his herd of Holstein cattle.
The result was a roomy, well-ventilated, versatile structure that is easy to clean and fits like a glove into the farmstead.
Miller’s Doughty Valley Farm was the third stop on the tour. Just a little over a year old, the 60 feet x 40 feet structure has 14 box stalls with overhead storage for round hay bales.
Miller explained that the barn was constructed to replace an old chicken house that had been demolished. A lean-to along the side of the barn houses replacement animals for the dairy herd.
The front panels of the 12-by-12 box stalls are made from wood, but Miller chose to use gates made by a local manufacturer to divide the stalls. They swing in to allow access to the pen with a skid loader. The smaller 8-by-8 pens are made with the same tube pipe gates. The front of the pens are also made from the tube pipes and have a hay feeder, bucket holder and feed pan.
The benefit to this type of a pen, according to Miller, is that they are not only easy to clean, but it is easy to see the horses. Miller uses a clay and stone base in the pen because it packs down and the horses won’t dig holes in it.
Solar power. The final stop on the tour was a 34 feet by 84 feet general horse barn with 10 box stalls, owned by Joe Raber. The second story of the two-story bank barn is used to store grain, hay and equipment.
Raber explained that the barn has a 1O-foot wide dirt aisle to keep the horses from slipping when they enter and exit the barn. It also has an overhang on each end. The wooden stalls are open, but bars on the stall doors keep the horses from fighting with each other.
The barn is unique in the fact that the Rabers have installed solar panels to provide power for a 12-volt battery, which is used to provide a source of power for the lights. Raber also operates a tack shop, while his brother, Ray, operates a blacksmith shop.